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Nov

16

2017

When Should You Surrender in Blackjack?

One challenge facing blackjack players is that the rules aren’t precisely the same in one casino as another, or even sometimes at one table as opposed to another in the same casino.

There are a number of optional rules, including late surrender, which after the dealer checks to see if he has blackjack, allows you to give up half your bet instead of playing it beyond your first two cards.

I received a note recently from a player who found late surrender offered in an eight-deck game. He wondered if the specific cards in his hand made a difference in surrender strategy.

“I seemed to get a lot of 16s against dealer 10s,” he wrote. “My question is about the composition of my 16s. Does it make any difference whether the 16 is 10-6 or 9-7? I should split 8s instead of surrendering, right?”

Basic strategy for late surrender in an eight-deck game where the dealer hits soft 17 and surrender is allowed is to surrender with hard 15 against a dealer’s 10 or Ace; surrender hard 16 against 9, 10 or Ace, and surrender hard 17 against an Ace.

There is an exception when the 16 is a pair of 8s. Then, the best play is to surrender only against an Ace, but to split against all other dealer cards.

Anytime you surrender, your loss is 50 cents per dollar wagered. That’s by definition — when you surrender, you give up half your wager instead of playing out the hand.

Given the hand compositions the player mentioned, the average loss per dollar wagered if you hit is 54.1 cents if you have 10-6 and 53.8 percent with 9-7. Either way, your average loss is higher if you play out the hand than if you surrender.

If you start with a pair of 8s, splitting the pair leaves you an average loss of 49.4 cents of your original wager. That’s lower than the 50 cents for surrender, so you split.

 

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