Complete Blackjack Surrender Strategy to play Blackjack a version of Pontoon


Blackjack surrender

Blackjack surrender strategy is the rule to surrender your hand when playing online blackjack. Though this rule doesn’t work at all casinos but some do offer this specially after comparing your initial two-card hand against the dealer’s upcard, you think your chances of winning the hand are not very good. You can forfeit playing your hand and surrender (or give up) half of the amount of your wager. If you decide to surrender, the dealer will remove half of your bet and then take up your initial two cards and place them in the discard tray. 

Most players do not use the surrender option because they much prefer to try to “win their hands,” rather than out and surrender them. For many players but surrender can be a smart play if you know which hands to surrender. 

Math behind surrender

You know that when you surrender a hand you will lose 50% or half of your wager; therefore, it makes sense to surrender only those hands when your expected loss from playing the hand to a conclusion is greater than 50% i.e., when your chances of winning are less than one out of four hands. The latter means that statistically if playing a hand has less than a 25% chance of winning and consequently greater than 75% of losing, you will save money in the long run by surrendering the hand instead. Suppose you are dealt a 10 and 6 and the dealer’s upcard is a ten. This is the worst blackjack hand that you can get when you are playing. You have three choices on how to play the hand: hit, stand, or surrender.

The above percentages mean if you stand on your 16, you can expect to lose the hand 77.2% of the time and win only 22.8%; therefore, you can expect to lose $54.40 for every $100 bet on the hand. Hitting improves your outcome slightly; your expected loss is $53.20 per $100 bet. It is like when you surrender your 10-6 against a dealer 10 upcard, you will lose exactly 50% of your bet, meaning for every $100 wagered, your expectation is to lose $50. So ask yourself is it better to lose $50, $53.20, or $54.40?

The basic strategy for Blackjack surrender

Basic strategy for Blackjack Surrender

The blackjack basic playing strategy for surrender in a six-deck game with the dealer standing on soft 17 is:

  • Surrender hard 16 (but not 8-8) against a dealer 9, 10, or Ace upcard
  • Surrender hard 15 against a dealer 10 upcard
  • Though the above strategy differs slightly depending on the number of decks of cards being used and the mix of playing rules. If you are not sure if a casino offers surrender, contact the casino beforehand or just ask the dealer if you happen to be in a casino. Usually, if a casino offers surrender, it will state it on the placard that summarizes the rules that is located on each table.

Casinos in Vegas you can only surrender your hand after the dealer peeks at his hole card when he shows an ace or ten-valued card, to determine if he has a blackjack. If he has blackjack, the surrender option is no longer available, and you will lose your entire bet unless you also have a blackjack. This is known as “late surrender.

Another type of surrender, known as “early surrender,” and is more prevalent in European and Asian casinos where the dealer does not take a hole card until after all players have acted on their hand. With the early surrender option, a player can surrender his hand to a dealer’s ace and/or ten-value upcard before he checks to determine if he has blackjack. Early surrender is a much more favorable rule for players than late surrender, and it has a much different playing strategy than later surrender.

Blackjack surrender policy

In some casinos you must verbally announce to the dealer that you want to surrender your hand by saying, “surrender.” Other casinos have implemented a hand signal for surrender, which is to draw an imaginary line from left to right on the felt with your index finger.

Implementing the late surrender playing strategy will reduce the house edge by about 0.07% in multiple-deck games. Surrender also will stabilize your bankroll compared to a game where surrender is not offered and you have to play your hands to completion.

Surrender is also a valuable playing option for card counters because it will moderate the swings in their bankroll. Also, knowing when to surrender a hand based on the count should definitely be employed by a card counter. Finally note that not all online casinos oofer the surrender option in their blackjack games. Check the summary of the blackjack rules on the online site to determine if surrender is available. (Inputs to this article were taken from Henry Tamburin who is one of world’s most respected blackjack experts and a world-class player. He is the author of the Ultimate Blackjack Strategy Guide, and Blackjack: Take The Money and Run)