When to Surrender in Blackjack

What is Surrender in Blackjack?

When you play blackjack, whether live in a casino or in online casinos, surrender is a strategy that allows a player to fold before drawing cards. Not all casinos allow this option, and when you play blackjack you must know the particular stance of the House when it comes to this rule.

The surrender option may sound like a dire choice in a game where winning is the goal, but there are several scenarios where it is actually the right choice. Nonetheless, there are differences in opinion as to whether it should be used in blackjack, as some players think it turns players into quitters and others love it as a strategy.

Minimizing the House Edge

As we know, at the table, the house edge is present at all times, and anything that can be done to minimize the house edge is advantageous to a player.

When you surrender, you give up your hand after the dealer’s initial deal. Before you do this you should make sure you have little chance of winning the hand. When a player chooses to surrender, he gets to keep half of the original bet, and the other half is forfeited to the dealer.

In blackjack, there are several ways to indicate to the dealer that you would like to surrender. When you are at a table at a casino playing a live game of blackjack, the proper procedure to indicate surrender is to swipe a finger behind the bet to indicate your intention and recoup half of your wager.

Man signaling a surrender with his finger to the dealer in Blackjack

In online casinos, you must press a button to indicate surrender.

Whether to surrender depends on whether the dealer hits or stands on soft 17. In actuality, there are only 4 scenarios when a player should surrender if a dealer stands on soft 17.

There are only four instances when a player should surrender when the dealer stands on soft 17. There are seven times a player should surrender when the dealer hits a soft 17. Players should surrender 16 against a 9, 10, or ace when the dealer stands on all 17’s. The exception is a pair of 8’s. Those should still be split against any dealer door card and never surrendered. A 15-hand should be surrendered versus a dealer’s 10-value card.

The rules change a little when the dealer hits a soft 17. The surrenders in the stay on 17 games also apply to the hit 17 games. Players will also surrender 15 and 17 against an ace. A pair of 8’s is still split against every hand except for when the dealer has an ace. In that case, it should be surrendered.

Timing of Blackjack Surrender

There are two options when it comes to this strategy: Early surrender, and Late Surrender.

Early Surrender

The practice of early surrender is not a common one because casinos don’t like it. Early surrender is when you opt out of the hand before the dealer checks for blackjack. It is the most advantageous form of surrender and the house likes to keep its edge. If early surrender is allowed in your game, the best scenario would have you surrender when the dealer has an ace and you have hard 5-7, 12-17, or pairs of 3, 6s, 7s, or 8s.

Late Surrender

Late surrender is more common at blackjack tables. This is where you surrender only after the dealer checks for blackjack.

In certain situations where a player’s hand is weak and the dealer’s upcard is strong, late surrender can serve as a useful strategy. For instance, if a player’s hand amounts to 16 and the dealer’s upcard is 10, they may opt for surrender to avoid losing their entire bet. Nonetheless, exercising late surrender should be done with caution and only when necessary, as it can result in the costly mistake of giving up a hand that could potentially be improved with additional cards.

When to Surrender in Blackjack

The main factor in determining whether to surrender in blackjack is the cards that the dealer is showing. If, based on the cards showing, it doesn’t look like your hand will beat the dealer’s, then taking a surrender can mean the difference between staying in the game or losing.

The goal in blackjack is to reduce the House’s edge in each hand and ultimately beat the house. The best way to do that is to achieve 21, but several strategies can help achieve a better hand and this is where the strategy of surrender comes into play.

Downsides and Upsides of Blackjack Surrender

No one likes to give up playing blackjack and exercising your right to surrender can often be a letdown to the player who was excited about playing their hand. But doing so may just be the difference between staying in the game and leaving the game.