When Should You Surrender in Blackjack?
Far too many people seem to take Winston Churchill’s stirring speech to heart when it comes to blackjack, with a never surrender mantra.
While never surrender might be a powerful concept during war or personal hardship, in blackjack it can actually make the house edge rise rather than fall.
So, if surrender is sometimes a good idea, when should you do it? And how?
We’ve got you covered, with all the details about when should you surrender in all forms of blackjack. Use these blackjack tips to win even more in your favorite casino game.
We’ve also got a more in-depth blackjack strategy guide here if you are interested in learning more than just about surrendering.
What does it mean to surrender in blackjack?
When you surrender in blackjack, you give up your hand following the initial deal if you have little chance of winning the hand.
You’ll keep half of your original bet, rather than play the hopeless hand and lose your whole bet. Instead of going down swinging, so to speak, you save your chips for when the cards are on your side. In blackjack, it’s important to play it as an endurance game instead of expecting to win big money from a single hand.
Unlike hitting or standing, most dealers at physical blackjack tables prefer for you to use verbal cues and not just hand gestures to indicate that you want to surrender. Online blackjack will have buttons for you to click or tap for the various options, including surrender when available.
Early surrender blackjack strategy
Early surrender is a rule that you’ll find less often at casinos, both online and offline. That’s because it’s the most advantageous form of surrender, letting you opt out of the hand before the dealer checks for blackjack.
The option for an early surrender against an ace or 10 increases your return to player rate by 0.39% and 0.24% respectively. Considering that most blackjack odds are up against less than 1% house edge, these improvements can make a substantial impact on your overall gameplay and chances.
That said, most casinos offering early surrender will counterbalance it with other rules that bring the house edge back up.
If your game allows for early surrender, an ideal blackjack strategy means that you surrender when the dealer has an ace if you have the following hands:
- Hard 5-7
- Hard 12-17
- Pair of 3s, 6s, 7s or 8s. If the dealer hits on soft 17, you should also surrender with a pair of 2s
Additionally, you should surrender against a dealer 10 with:
- Hard 14-16
- Pair of 7s or 8s, unless the 8s come in single deck blackjack that allows for double after split
There are notable exceptions to these blackjack strategies depending on the version of blackjack you’re playing. If you’re playing single deck blackjack, don’t surrender to the dealer’s 10 if you have 4+10 or 5+9. Similarly, don’t surrender to a 10 in double deck blackjack if you have a 4+10.
Late surrender blackjack strategy
Late surrender, a more common rule at a variety of blackjack tables, means that you can surrender your hand and lose half your bet only after the dealer checks for blackjack.
The ideal blackjack strategy for late surrender varies depending on the rules you’re playing with and how many decks are included in the game. Except when you’re dealt a 17, which you should only surrender if the dealer is showing an Ace and hits on soft 17 or if you’re playing single deck blackjack and have a 10+7.
If you are dealt a 14:
- Surrender in single-deck blackjack against a dealer’s 10
- If the dealer hits on soft 17 in single-deck blackjack, surrender with 7+7 against the dealer’s ace
If you are a dealt a 15:
- Surrender in single or double deck blackjack if the dealer is showing an ace and hits on soft 17 if your hand is 9+6 or 10+5
- Surrender to a dealer’s 10 if your hand is a 9+6 or 10+5 in games with 1-6 decks of cards
- With 4-8 decks, always surrender to 10 as well as aces where the dealer hits on soft 17
If you are a dealt a 16:
- In single or double deck blackjack, surrender to a dealer’s 10 or ace
- With four or more decks, surrender to a dealer’s 9, 10 or ace
- If you’re dealt 8+8 in a game where the dealer hits on soft 17, only surrender to an ace if double after split is not allowed
Why you should surrender (and other blackjack tips)
When it comes to blackjack strategy, the most important thing to remember is that the goal of the game is to beat the dealer. While hitting 21 is ideal and gives you the best chance of doing so, winning blackjack tips are about achieving a better hand than the dealer.
That’s why the main concern is what the dealer is showing and rules regarding hitting or standing on soft 17.
As a result, surrender can play an important role in your blackjack strategy. If in all probability your hand will not beat the dealer’s, it’s far better to surrender the hand and move on to the next one than to burn through your chips playing each hand.
Sure, it can be frustrating not to play a hand, but blackjack is more about making the most of your gambling session rather than taking big risks and getting huge rewards from a single hand. It’s best to follow a winning blackjack strategy and reduce the house edge on each hand, resulting in a better chance of coming out ahead when you’re finished playing.
Don’t worry, most blackjack tables, whether you play online or at a physical casino, move quickly. Just because you surrender this hand doesn’t mean you’ll miss out on all the action, with the next hand getting dealt usually within a minute or two depending on how many other players are at the table.