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Jake Hamilton
After covering the online gambling industry for over a decade, Jake is a passionate casino enthusiast and a meticulous fact-checker. Well-versed in online slot mechanics and live casino intricacies, he goes the extra mile to analyse the small print and show you the big picture.

The Meaning of Blackjack Surrender Explained

What does surrender mean in blackjack? Well, blackjack is a simple game, and most players are familiar with the basic rules – hit, stand, double, split, and double down. Depending on the house rules, players can significantly lower the house edge and perhaps boost their winning odds while playing blackjack by surrendering. The blackjack surrender rule allows you to fold bad hands and get half your bet back. This also means that if a player decides to surrender, they accept losing half of their initial bet. 

If you are playing online blackjack games, you can use this feature by clicking on the surrender button. In land-based casinos, you should draw a horizontal line behind your bet with your index finger and verbally declare that you want to surrender. Let’s explore the two main types of blackjack surrender rules that I have tried in most online casinos

Early Surrender Option

The early surrender option allows you to play a blackjack game with a significantly lower house edge if you know how to use it. Once the first two cards are dealt, blackjack players can consider surrendering their hands before the dealer checks. This means giving up half of your original bet before the dealer checks their hole card for a natural blackjack. I prefer the early surrender rule because it can decrease the house edge by 0.62% and consequently increase my odds of winning. Here are my recommended moves when surrendering early in blackjack.

ScenarioDecision
The dealer’s Upcard is an AceSurrender if you have a hard 5-7 or 12-17
The dealer’s Upcard is a 10-value cardSurrender if you have a hard 14-16 or 5-7
The dealer’s Upcard is a 9Surrender if you have a hard 15 or 16
The dealer’s Upcard is a 7 or 8Surrender if you have a hard 14 or 15
The dealer’s Upcard is a 6Surrender if you have a hard 12-16
The dealer’s Upcard is a 4 or 5Surrender if you have a hard 14 or 15
The dealer’s Upcard is a 2 or 3Surrender if you have a hard 12-16

Late Surrender Option

The late surrender rule allows you to forfeit blackjack rounds with bad hands that are less likely to beat the dealer’s hand. However, this is only allowed once the dealer checks for blackjack. In other words, the dealer has to check their hole card to see if they have a hand value of 21. This option is allowed if the dealer’s face-up card is an ace or a 10-value card.

You will get half your bet back if the dealer’s hand is not a blackjack, and the other half goes to the casino. I usually consider late surrender in blackjack if the first two cards dealt add up to 14, 15, or 16, but there are other scenarios where you can use this option, as shown below.

ScenarioDecision
The dealer’s Upcard is an AceSurrender if you have a hard 15-17 or 8-10
The dealer’s Upcard is a 10-value cardSurrender if you have a hard 16-17 or 9-11
The dealer’s Upcard is a 9Surrender if you have a hard 17 or 10
The dealer’s Upcard is a 7 or 8Surrender if you have a hard 15-16 or 9-11
The dealer’s Upcard is a 6Surrender if you have a hard 14 or 8-10
The dealer’s Upcard is a 4 or 5Surrender if you have a hard 14-16 or 8-10
The dealer’s Upcard is a 2 or 3Surrender if you have a hard 12-16 or 7-11

When Should You Surrender in Blackjack?

Knowing when to surrender in blackjack can help you lower the house edge, even though you have to lose half your bet in the process. If you are following the total dependent rule, your decision is solely based on the totals of the first two cards. However, experienced players also consider different groupings of cards when making a decision. This is commonly known as the composition-dependent blackjack surrender rule. Both options can be helpful if you combine them with other blackjack game strategies recommended by Turbico’s experts.

Surrendering in blackjack mostly depends on the player’s first two cards and the dealer’s upcard. Although there are many situations where you can use the blackjack surrender option, you want to do it when the odds are against you. My advice is that you should surrender if you have a hard hand total of 14, 15, or 16 against the dealer’s ace or 10-value card.

When the Player’s Hand Total is 14 or 15

If the house rules are reasonable, you should consider surrendering when the dealer draws a 10-value card and you have a hand value of 14 or 15. This option is also recommended if you have pairs of 7s as your starting blackjack hand. However, you should not surrender 15 if the dealer has 10 in a single-deck blackjack game. It can also be advantageous to surrender a hard 14, 15, or a pair of 7s if the dealer’s face-up card is an ace. In case you are wondering when to surrender, you can do it late or early if you have 14 or 15.

When the Player’s Hand Total is 16

Blackjack surrender is a viable choice if your first two cards add up to 16 and the dealer’s card is a 9, 10, or an ace. Surrendering is also recommended if you have 16, the dealer’s card is a 9, and there are four or more decks in the game. What about a pair of 8s? Well, you can still surrender, but the best move for me would be to split and play two separate hands. If you are surrendering late, you should always surrender 16 if the dealer hits a soft 17 or stands on all 17s.

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Important Blackjack Surrender Rules to Follow

Some blackjack rules may vary depending on the casino. With a full guide on how to play blackjack, you can learn the basics and know the right time to take a certain action. Here is what I have learned while playing blackjack games with the surrender rules. 

  • Availability of the Surrender Option: Not all online casinos I have seen offer blackjack surrender options. Casino operators can set specific terms and conditions. You should familiarise yourself with the house rules for blackjack tables before playing.
  • Surrender After Splitting: Some blackjack casinos will allow you to surrender after splitting. Others do not offer this option. This is especially important to note if you wish to split pairs and play a second hand to boost your chances of winning.
  • Number of Decks: The odds can be favourable or against you if you surrender, depending on how many decks are available. If there are more than four decks, for instance, you can comfortably surrender to a dealer’s 9, 10, or ace if you are dealt 16.
  • Dealers’s Upcard Restrictions: There are casinos where the blackjack surrender option has restrictions based on the dealer’s upcard. 
  • Blackjack Table Limits: Each casino has its own minimum and maximum table limits that players must bear in mind before playing blackjack with the surrender option.
  • Local and Regional Variations: The rules for surrendering in blackjack can vary depending on the region and the available online blackjack games.

Why Surrender in Blackjack: Pros and Cons

Pros
Huge loss prevention
House edge reduction
Odds boosting
High-limit table play
Cons
Limited availability at casinos
Round termination upon surrender
Bet loss of 50%

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FAQ

What Does It Mean to Surrender in Blackjack?

A blackjack table with the surrender option allows you to give up half your bet if you have a bad hand. It helps if you think the dealer has a natural blackjack or is more likely to win the game.

Is Blackjack Surrender a Recommended Strategy?

Surrendering can be helpful if you take the right action, depending on the situation. It allows you to save half of your bet in case the dealer has a winning hand.

What Does Early Surrender Mean in Blackjack?

Casinos with early surrender rules give you a chance to forfeit your hand and keep half of your bet before checking for the dealer’s ace or 10-value card. It depends on the casino’s terms.

What Is the Benefit of Late Surrender?

If you choose late surrender in blackjack, you can only fold your hand once the dealer checks the hole card for blackjack. This also means giving up half of your bet.