How To Use Surrender In Blackjack

SurrenderSurrender is one of the most misunderstood rules in blackjack. On the surface, it sounds like a weak move; where one is allowed to give up one’s hand early in the game and in exchange for forfeiting half of one’s bet. The hand is never played out. Most players think it’s a sucker bet that favors the casino.

In reality, it is one of the most powerful and, if  played correctly, advantageous rules in blackjack, similar to the “fold” move in poker. It’s actually a great deal, when chances are, you would lose your entire hand by either standing or hitting (such is the case with a player 15 or 16 vs a dealer 10 in games where the dealer stands on soft 17).

These days, the most common version of surrender is "late surrender", where the dealer checks for a blackjack, and you may only surrender if he doesn't have it. If he does have it, you lose your entire bet without being given the surrender option. "Early surrender" games, where you are allowed to surrender before the dealer checks his hole card, are very rare in land casinos (not offered in Las Vegas), and we have yet to find this option anywhere online.

When should you use it? If the expectation is to lose more than 50%, you should surrender instead. If you are playing simple basic strategy (not counting cards), SURRENDER in the following games and conditions:

surrender chart

In 6-8 deck games where the dealer STANDS on all 17s:

Player Hard 15 vs a Dealer 10

Player Hard 16 (except pair of 8s) vs a Dealer 9, 10, or Ace

In 6-8 deck games where the dealer HITS on Soft 17:

Player Hard 15 vs a Dealer 10 or Ace

Player Hard 16 (except pair of 8s) vs a Dealer 9, 10, or Ace

Player 16 (formed with a pair of 8s) vs a Dealer Ace

Player Hard 17 vs a Dealer Ace

How to use surrender: After the first two cards are dealt and the dealer checks his/her hole card (in late surrender), on your turn, simply drag your pointer finger across the table in front of your cards. You can also say "surrender" to be extra clear. The dealer will take your cards and return half of your bet to you. This concludes your round.

If you use the surrender option correctly in basic strategy, your edge will increase .1%. To determine how other rule options change the casino's advantage see our Blackjack House Edge Calculator. With counting cards, the edge goes up as the count goes up. Card counters also use surrender to camouflage their play, since most casino officials see it as scared play by amateurs. The greatest advantage of surrender is found when using basic strategy to catch streaks in the game, by using our Easy Money Blackjack System.