Blackjack Surrender Strategy Guide
Generally regarded as the standard blackjack game online that has the best potential payout rate, Blackjack Surrender is a title produced by Playtech that is one of the most popular online blackjack variations ever produced. Correct strategies for this game allow you to get a payout rate of more than 99.6 percent, which is outstanding for any title online.
Introduction to Blackjack Surrender
Playtech is one of the most prolific developers of online casino software in the world. They have produced software for virtually every sector of the online gambling industry, but their Blackjack Surrender game is still one of their most well-known and popular titles.
The popularity of Blackjack Surrender comes from the action-oriented strategies required to play well at the game along with its particularly high potential payout rate with correct play.
This game is a strategic blackjack player’s dream because it requires non-standard options like surrendering, doubling and splitting a lot more often than most multi-deck games, and that adds a layer of excitement and requirement for strong strategy that you don’t always see.
House Advantage and Payout Rates
The real story here starts with the potential house advantage of only 0.39 percent with correct play. Even with occasional mistakes, it’s fairly easy to keep the house edge under 0.5 percent, which is tremendous, as long as you put in some work to learn the right strategies that we’re going to outline here.
The resulting payout rate for Blackjack Surrender is a whooping 99.61 percent. That is one of the highest payout rates you can find anywhere for a standard blackjack game from any software provider, and that’s a major reason why this game has remained so popular among table games and card games fans online for such a tremendous period of time.
Important Rules for Blackjack Surrender
The key rule used that gives this game its name is the ability to late surrender. What that means is that you have the option to surrender (ie: to receive back half of your wager and give up your hand) no matter how many cards you have, and that can help you to drastically lower the edge the house has against you in some of the worst spots available.
The rest of the important rules that you’ll want to know about from a strategy standpoint are as follows:
- The dealer stands with a soft 17.
- The dealer peeks for blackjack with any ace and any ten.
- You can double with any two cards.
- You can double after splitting, but you cannot re-split.
- A seven-card Charlie rule is in effect for an even money win (if you get seven cards without busting, you automatically win the hand).
The ability to double with any starting hand has a key role in the strategies for this game, and the late surrender option also creates some interesting strategic possibilities with some spots that would normally be very much in favor for the house.
Strategies for Blackjack Surrender
Since there are no non-standard gimmicks for this game, Blackjack Surrender strategy is all about simply being solid with each available situation that you can be put into.
In what follows, we’re going to break things down conceptually instead of just throwing a chart at you so that you can understand why you need to make the recommended plays. We’ll do this by breaking up the right strategies for this game into sections based on the type of spot you’re facing.
Playing Hard Hands Correctly
Your bread and butter strategy in Blackjack Surrender is in the regular hard hands. A hard hand is a hand without an ace that could be counted as an 11, and these will make up the majority of the spots you face. Fortunately, they’re not too difficult to learn to play if you follow what we’re going to put in front of you here.
We’re going to start you off by breaking up all hard hands into four core groups to tell you what you should do with each of those four groups if no other options are available. From there, we’ll show you what the exceptions are to those four core groups.
First, the four main groupings for hard hands:
- Player total of 17 or higher – Always stand, no exceptions
- Player total of 11 or lower – Always hit with exceptions for doubling
- Player total of 12-16, dealer has 2-6 – Always stand with certain exceptions with 12
- Player total of 12-16, dealer has 7-A – Always hit with certain exceptions for surrendering
Now, consider these exceptions:
- Player total of 11 or lower – Double with 9 against 3-6, double with 10 against 2-9 and double with 11 against 2-10.
- Player total of 12-16, dealer has 2-6 – With a total of 12, hit against a dealer 2 or 3 instead of standing.
- Player total of 12-16, dealer has 7-A – Surrender with a 15 against a 10 or with a 16 against a 9, 10 or A.
We also want to point out that these spots in the final bullet point above are actually the only situations in which you’ll surrender in the entire game. Surrendering in any other spot is a bit of a trap and actually loses money compared to playing normally according to our basic recommendations above.
Playing Soft Hands Correctly
Soft hands make up in the ballpark of a third of the hands that you’ll see, and almost all of them are really easy to play on your first decision. With that having been said, they almost always turn into decisions that have to be made with hard hands, so we strongly suggest that you learn how to play the hard hands (as noted above) first.
With that having been said, here are two rules of thumb that you can use to determine how to play almost all soft hands with an exception down below for when to double:
- Player total of 17 or lower – Always hit except when doubling
- Player total of exactly 18 – This is a special case that we’ll tackle below
- Player total of 19 or higher – Always stand with no exceptions
If you have a soft total of 18, you’ve actually ran into the most complicated part of the overall strategy for this game because things get a little weird. As a default, you will stand unless you’re facing a nine or ten. Outside of that, you will also be doubling a soft 18 if the hand falls inside of the Rule of 23 section just below.
Learning to play all soft hands in Blackjack Surrender is really not that difficult as long as you start with the overly complicated case of having 18 and then work backwards from there.
The Rule of 23
The Rule of 23 is a rule that applies in a lot of different blackjack games when learning how to double with soft hands. However, there’s one very important part of this rule that’s very important to know right off the bat:
The Rule of 23 only applies if you’re facing a dealer with a 2-6. If the dealer has a 7 or higher (including an ace), then this rule does not apply because you will never double a soft hand when facing a 7 or above.
With that out of the way, the Rule of 23 is actually fairly simple:
- Add your hand’s total to twice the amount of the dealer’s card.
- If that sum is 23 or higher, then you double.
- If it’s 22 or lower, then you hit.
For example, if you hold 15 and are up against a dealer showing a 4, the sum you do is 15+4+4 to get 23, which means you double.
The Rule of 23 is something that most people can understand after they work through a few examples, but you absolutely must remember that it only applies if you’re facing a dealer showing a six or lower. Also remember that it applies for totals of 18 as well despite the wonky rules for hitting or standing with that total.
Playing Paired Hands Correctly
Paired hands make up a small minority of the situations you’ll run into, and you can mostly just wing it until you really have the hard and soft hand strategies down pat.
In Blackjack Surrender, the strategies for dealing with paired hands are very similar to what you’ll find in other multi-deck games, so we’ll only offer a brief summary for reference purposes. In short, you should play the hands like usual hard hands with the following exceptions:
- 2s, 3s, 7s – Split against 2-7
- 4s – Split against 5-6
- 6s – Split against 2-6
- 8s, As – Always split
- 9s – Split 2-6 and 8-9 (but not against a 7)
That’s really everything there is to know about playing paired hands. There aren’t any special cases to know, which makes the strategies for these lesser-seen hands a lot easier to learn.
Learning how to win at Blackjack Surrender is all about keeping the house advantage down as much as possible with correct strategies. We’ve outlined the strategies needed in each part of the game to get the payout rate as high as you can to show you exactly what you need to do to get the best chances of coming out ahead in your sessions.