Early Surrender vs. Late Surrender: What is the Difference?

As you know, blackjack isn’t pure chance. A mathematical approach can easily penetrate the deck and control the house edge. Card counters were able to come up with various strategies to outsmart casinos and earn a lot of money. However, casinos still have the discretion to come up with new rules to stymie the winning chances of their players – one which is the blackjack strategy surrender.

The Blackjack Surrender rule is usually used on the classic American blackjack. This rule lets you surrender your hand to reclaim half of your original wager. Players use this as a way to salvage a portion of their bankroll when chances are high that they will lose against the dealer.

Still, not all casinos and blackjack variations allow the surrender rule. The likes of European and UK blackjack may opt out of the surrender rule, making the house edge slightly higher.

But if the table allows, it’s still quite tricky to decide if you should surrender your hand or not. With this, we came up with a short guide that you can use for your game:

Who should use this guide?

This brief guide is best for those who are playing with the basic strategy chart. Remember that deciding to surrender is different when you’re card counting. As much as learning the basic strategy is a must, deviations may tell a different story as compared to the suggestions below.

What is the benefit of surrendering?

Many newbies think that surrendering isn’t a good choice since you’ll be losing the chance to gamble with your hand. However, as much as your hand is playable, going on with the round may cost you more money.

In short, the surrender rule will give you a chance to control the game in a way that you have the option to quit a hand at any given opportunity. It allows you to lose only half of what you wagered.

For high-rollers who bet $100 to $200 per hand, this is a life saver. The surrender online game is also available.

Still, you’re not supposed to surrender by gut feel alone. Though your hand may look weak, you always have to consider what the dealer gets on his side.

Early surrender vs. late surrender

In blackjack, there are two different surrender rules: the early and late surrender. In early surrender, the player can forfeit half of his bet even before the dealer peeks for blackjack. This rule is a rare one but still found on some casinos.

When it comes to the late surrender, the player can give up half of his wager only after a dealer peeks for blackjack.

So how does the two differ? First of all, the early surrender reduces the house edge because whenever the dealer gets a blackjack but you surrender ahead of time, you lose half of your wager alone. But if you’re only allowed to late surrender, the dealer will peek for blackjack, and if he has one, you lose everything. In short, you can only enjoy the benefit of surrendering when the dealer doesn’t have a blackjack.

Sadly, early blackjack strategy surrender is slowly disappearing from both online and brick-and-mortar casinos. This makes sense because gambling houses want to gain as much edge that they can manage.

Here’s Shawn Tinling to give us a background about the blackjack surrender strategy:

Early surrender strategies

Whenever the dealer gets an Ace or a 10-card, you’ll be offered an early surrender option if the table recognizes the rule. However, don’t decide hastily just because the dealer’s up-card is intimidating.

You should only use the early surrender opportunity on these conditions:

Surrender if...

????The dealer gets a 10 and you got a pair of 8s or 7s

????The dealer dealts a 10 and you got a hard hand of 14, 15, and 16

????Dealer has an Ace and you got a pair of 8s, 7s, 6s, or 3s

????Dealer has an Ace and you got a hard hand of 17, 16, 15, 14, 13, or 12

????The dealer gets an Ace and you got a hard hand of 5, 6, or 7

It may sound like you should grab early surrender whenever the dealer gets an Ace or a 10 up-card. Sure, this may yield a natural blackjack, but remember that the odds aren’t always in the house’s favor. So if we are to follow the tenets of the basic strategy, DON’T early surrender on the following hands:

DO NOT surrender...

????Don’t surrender when the dealer gets an Ace (H17) and you got a pair of 2s

????Do not early surrender when the dealer gets a 10 and you are dealt with a hand of 4-10 on a double-deck game

????Don’t early surrender when the dealer gets a 10 and you got a hand of 4-10 on a single-deck game

????Don’t surrender when the dealer gets a 10 and you got a pair of 8s on a game where doubling after splitting is allowed

Remember these hands and you’ll have a better advantage when playing with the early surrender rule. Still, you can opt out if you’re card counting.

Late surrender

The late blackjack strategy surrender rule has varying strategies than the early version. We have to focus on the number of decks in the shoe to decide whether it’s good to grab the opportunity or not. Remember, the only goal for late surrender is to dodge the possibility of getting beaten by the dealer through a higher hand.

Once the dealer peeks for blackjack and s/he has one, your wager gets collected and you have no way to surrender.

Here, I’m going to give you the suggestions in line with the basic strategy and the number of decks. Also, pay close attention as I included the Ace supposing that the dealer stands at Soft 17 (S17) or hits at Soft 17 (H17). This works even for surrender online game:

Single deck

*Once the dealer gets a 10 and an Ace (S17) and you acquired a hand of 15, don’t surrender. When the dealer gets an Ace and hits at Soft 17, do surrender.

*If you have a hand of 16, surrender when the dealer acquired a 10 and an Ace for both S17 and H17.

*For a hand of 17, surrender only once the dealer gets an Ace and hits on Soft 17


*When you have a hand of 15, surrender only when the dealer gets a 10 or an Ace (H17).

*Always surrender a hand of 16 when the dealer acquired a 10 or an Ace in both S17 and H17.

*Surrender a hand of 17 once the dealer gets an Ace and hits on Soft 17.

Four and more decks

*If you have a hand of 15, surrender only when the dealer acquired a 10 or an Ace (H17)

*Always surrender if you have a hand of 16 and the dealer gets 9, 10, and an Ace (both S17 and H17).

*If you have a hand of 17, surrender only when the dealer gets an Ace and hits on Soft 17.

How card composition may affect surrendering strategies

The above-mentioned moves are in line with the rules of the basic strategy. However, if we’re going to use the C-D or Composition-Dependent Strategy, there would be differences in the techniques. We’re no longer just considering the hand total. With the C-D strategy, we will factor in the cards that compose your hand.

This is a more complicated process and will need more memorization and practice. Still, this is more effective and useful if you’re planning to count cards.

Let’s take this as an example: you have a hand of 15 in a single-deck game. If we are to follow the mentioned moves, we’re supposed to surrender once the dealer gets an Ace on an H17 setup.

However, if we’re going to check the composition of your hand, surrendering is a strong decision if you have a 10+5 or a 9+6. Why? You only have one 10-card on your hand and it’s possible that the dealer will have one too. Even if s/he doesn’t, there’s a chance that the dealer only needs at least a five-card to beat you.

The same goes on four or more deck of cards and you are dealt with a hand of 15. Still, following the basic strategy with the late surrender moves above is enough to increase your advantage even a little.

Should you take insurance?

The classic blackjack rule states that the player can take insurance whenever the dealer gets an Ace up-card. So the question here is should you early surrender alone or place an insurance wager?

For the most part, experts will tell you that it’s best to skip side bets. This is very much true, especially if you’re a newbie and only using the basic strategy. It’s better to keep the bankroll on your pockets instead of blindly waging it on a bet reeking with a house edge.

Besides, taking insurance will only defeat the benefit of early surrender which is saving a part of your wager.


Before you play any blackjack game, always ask first about the rules. Clarify if they offer early or late surrender. As you see, the difference goes a long way on your game.

For beginners, it doesn’t hurt to master the basic moves I discussed above. But once you know the ins and outs of basic surrendering, level up your game. You can also count cards to have a more informed playing strategy.

Remember, both the basic and blackjack strategy surrender has its limits.

Leave a Reply