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Blackjack Surrender Strategy – Who, What, Where, When and Why?

Blackjack Surrender Strategy – Who, What, Where, When and Why?

Blackjack Surrender – Surrendering in blackjack is a great move when used in the right situation. Unfortunately most blackjack players either ignore this option completely or surrender when they really shouldn’t. Knowing and using optimal surrender strategy helps reduce the house edge for casual blackjack players and increases profitability for card counters. Let’s take a closer look at the “who, what, where, when and why” of surrendering in blackjack and see how this valuable player option might be able to help us at the blackjack tables…


So who is it that you’ll see using the surrender option at the blackjack tables? Is it a fearful player that quickly throws in the towel? Is it a superstitious player trying to change the flow of the cards? The truth is that it’s the smart blackjack player that takes advantage of great surrendering opportunities. There are certain situations in blackjack when the expected value of your hand is a loss of more than 50% of your bet. When that’s the case, clearly you’re better off surrendering and getting half of your bet returned to you rather than playing out the hand.

Here’s a look at the expected loss on a $100 bet without card counting. The reality is that whether you’re keeping track of it or not, there is always a count. The more positive the count goes, the higher the expected loss is when hitting this 15 or 16…


For those that are new to blackjack or just haven’t played many games where surrendering was an option, let’s clarify exactly what surrendering is. When you surrender in blackjack you are immediately forfeiting your hand and getting 50% of your bet returned to you. An example would be if you bet $100 and were dealt a 16 versus a dealer’s 10, you might prefer to “surrender” the hand and get $50 back instead of potentially losing the entire $100. You’re taking an instant loss of half your bet in order to save the other half of the bet. Surrendering is only an option on your first two cards before you take a hit. Once you have taken a hit you can no longer surrender and must finish playing out your hand.


So where is blackjack surrender offered? Surrendering is usually only allowed on certain shoe games that use 4, 6 or 8 decks. There are only a handful of exceptions that I’ve seen on the west coast (none in Las Vegas)…

Double Deck Blackjack with Surrender (Southern California)
Barona Casino
Sycuan Casino
Harrah’s Rincon Casino
* Pechanga and Pauma no longer offer surrendering on double deck.
3-Deck Blackjack with Surrender (Tucson, Arizona)
Casino Del Sol
Typically it’s going to be the 4-8 deck games dealt from a shoe where you might find the surrender option. Here’s a list of the larger casinos on the Las Vegas Strip, plus a few noteworthy mentions off the Strip. I’ve noted where you will find surrender available, if at all…
Aria (City Center) – high limit 6-deck, $100 minimum
Bally’s – 3:2 paying 8-deck games, watch out for the 6:5 tables!
Bellagio – all 6-deck blackjack
Caesars Palace – high limit 6-deck games and some 6-deckers on the main floor
Circus Circus – surrender not allowed
Cosmopolitan – all 6-deck and 8-deck blackjack
Encore – all 6-deck blackjack
Excalibur – surrender not allowed
Flamingo – surrender not allowed
Green Valley Ranch – high limit 6-deck, $50 minimum
Hard Rock – high limit 6-deck, $100 minimum
Harrah’s – surrender not allowed
Imperial Palace – surrender not allowed
Luxor – surrender not allowed
M Resort – high limit 6-deck, $50 minimum
Mandalay Bay – all 6-deck blackjack
MGM Grand – all 6-deck and 8-deck games
Mirage – all 6-deck and 8-deck games
Monte Carlo – all 6-deck and 8-deck games
New York, New York – all 6-deck blackjack
Palace Station – all 6-deck blackjack
Palazzo – all 8-deck blackjack
Palms – high limit 6-deck and all 8-deck games
Paris – high limit 6-deck and all 8-deck games
Planet Hollywood – all 6-deck blackjack
Red Rock – high limit 6-deck, $50 minimum
Rio – high limit 6-deck, $50 minimum
Riviera – some 6-deck games
Sahara – surrender not allowed
Stratosphere – surrender not allowed
Treasure Island – all 6-deck blackjack
Tropicana – surrender not allowed
Venetian – high limit 6-deck and all 8-deck games
Wynn – all 6-deck blackjack

So when is the right time to surrender? That depends on the blackjack table rules (S17 or H17) and whether or not you’re counting cards. Even without card counting, knowing the correct basic strategy surrender moves will help to reduce the house edge. Here’s a comparison of some 6-deck blackjack games with and without the surrender rule available…

Blackjack Surrender

A general rule of thumb is to never surrender against a dealer showing a 2 through 7. Surrendering should only come into consideration when the dealer shows an 8, 9, 10 or ace. Let’s have a look at the correct basic strategy surrender moves on a 4-deck, 6-deck or 8-deck game…

Dealer Stands on Soft 17
Surrender 16 vs 9, 10 or ace
Surrender 15 vs 10
Dealer Hits on Soft 17
Surrender 16 vs 9, 10 or ace
Surrender 15 vs 10 or ace
Surrender 17 vs ace
Surrender 8,8 vs ace
Card counting gives you some additional info to work with. Assuming you’re not using any cover plays that involve surrender situations, here are some easy-to-remember surrender moves that will save you money…
True Count of zero or higher: Surrender 16 vs 9, 10 or ace… Surrender 15 vs 10
True Count +2 or higher: Surrender 15 vs 9 or ace
True Count +3 or higher: Surrender 14 vs 10
True Count +4 or higher: Surrender 16 vs 8
If for some reason you’re a numbers freak and want to know every precise surrender move that exists when dealt a 14 through 17 against a dealer’s 8 through ace, you can contact me for a complete guide. This will get extremely detailed, for example you would want to surrender a 14 versus an ace (S17) at +6 or higher, but against an ace (H17) at a +4 or higher. In my opinion such extensive knowledge is overkill and not at all necessary to play a profitable game of blackjack. Stick to the four surrender points shown above and you’ll be fine.


The bottom line of why we want to surrender at the appropriate time is that we’re doing everything we can to gain and maintain a mathematical advantage over the house. I make my living off of maximizing my odds at the blackjack tables. Knowing optimal surrender strategy is definitely a key piece of the puzzle. Remember, surrendering is not about giving up or lacking courage, it’s about taking a smaller expected loss to improve overall results. Card counting or not, using correct surrender strategy is just plain smart.

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AP Nick


Hi my name is Nick, welcome to my site... I’ve been a Professional Blackjack Player for over 13 years now. I live in Southern California, but travel all over the US playing blackjack as a business. When it comes to blackjack, casinos and card counting (which I can train you to do), I’ve seen it all and done it all. Stay tuned to my site for all the latest going ons and updates from the blackjack world