Blackjack Surrender

 Blackjack Surrender

I once was playing in a casino that offered late surrender in blackjack. What that means is that after the dealer has checked to make sure he or she doesn’t have a blackjack, you have the option of surrendering half your bet instead of playing out the hand and risk losing it all. There’s also a version called “early surrender” in which you have that option BEFORE the dealer checks for blackjack, but it’s very rare.

On this night in this casino with late surrender, I was dealt a 9 and a 7, while the dealer had a 10 face up. That’s prime surrender territory, when you have a hand in which the odds are long against you winning.

“Surrender,” I said, and the dealer took half of my $10 bet and pushed the other half back to me.

A woman at the table said, “I didn’t know you could surrender here. How does that work?” A sullen gent sitting at third base snarled, “It depends on whether or not you came to gamble.”

I came to maximize my chances of a winning session, and surrender helps do that. In a common six-deck game in which the dealer stands on all 17s, basic strategy calls for us to surrender on hard 16 if the dealer has a 9, 10 or Ace, and also to surrender on hard 15 if the dealer has a 10 up. If the dealer hits soft 17, make all those plays, plus surrender on hard 15 against an Ace.

Hard hands, of course, are those that do not include an Ace being counted as 11. Surrender against 9, 10 or Ace when you have 9-7 or 10-6, but not Ace-5, which is a soft 16.

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