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The Surrender Option and When to Use it in Blackjack

April 1, 2013

Many blackjack games will have an option to surrender under specific circumstances. The surrender option allows you to give up half of your bet in exchange for giving up your hand. In theory, you should always surrender if the dealer has such an overwhelming advantage that you will expect to lose your bet more than half the time. There aren't many situations where this comes up in multi-deck blackjack because the house advantage on this game is fairly small. It should come as no surprise that there are no places where you should surrender whenever you have a soft hand because those are the hands where you tend to have a big advantage yourself. Even with this in mind, by effectively cutting your bet size in half in the worst possible situations, you can drastically improve your bottom line in the long run.

There is exactly one situation where you should surrender with paired starting cards in multi-deck blackjack. If the dealer hits on a soft total of 17, then you should surrender whenever you have two eights against an ace. This is the absolutely worst starting situation that you can have in blackjack with paired cards, so it's not all that surprising that you should surrender here. If the dealer stands on a soft 17, however, then you should actually split instead.

With hard hands, your worst total to have is 16. You should always surrender with a hard 16 if you are facing a dealer nine, ten or ace. This is the same no matter how the dealer plays a soft 17. With a hard 15, you should always surrender against a ten. Strangely enough, it's slightly better to hit than surrender with a hard 15 when facing an ace if the dealer stands on a soft 17. If the dealer hits on a soft 17, then you should just go ahead and surrender. As you can see from these examples, the dealer has a bigger advantage in these situations if he or she hits on a soft 17.

One of the most difficult spots to remember in blackjack, and the last of the situations you should remember when it comes to surrendering, is when you have a hard 17. Most people think that you are always supposed to stand with soft 17s. That's almost true, but if you're facing an ace with a dealer who hits on a soft 17, then you should surrender instead.