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Best of Fred Renzey

Gaming Guru

 

Don't Confuse Surrender with New Blackjack Gimmicks

8 February 2008

These days, there is a veritable glut of new "gimmicky" options you can take at many blackjack tables besides the basic play of your hand. Casino Surrender, Lucky Ladies, Royal Match, Pair Square and Super Sevens are just a few of the new propositions that have been dreamed up to pad the casino's bottom line at blackjack.

Some players say these side-bets make the game more fun – and they might. Others insist they're a good bet – and they're not (except that some may be, under very unusual circumstances). None of those new propositions, however, should be filed into the same category with an old player's option called just plain "Surrender". It stands alone as the one player's option that is a definite benefit to the player and should be used regularly.

The old player's "Surrender" rule is an available option at maybe 15% of all the casinos in the USA. Here's how it works. On your first two cards, providing the dealer doesn't have blackjack, if you don't like your chances, when it comes to your turn you can announce, "Surrender". At that point, the dealer will take away half your bet and your cards, getting you out of the hand.

It's a simple enough rule, yet even at casinos where it's available, most players never use it. The typical gambler's philosophy is that it's treason to give up your hand without a fight. Not only that, but some players believe that since surrendering rather than just hitting must be wrong, a player who surrenders is messing up the "holy order" of the cards for everybody else. How's that for compounding one lame-brained notion into another?

A couple of casinos in my locale used to have the player's Surrender option, but took it out after a while. When asked why, one pit boss explained that they received too many complaints from players who objected to others at the table changing the "flow" of the cards by not playing their hands out.

Fact is, Surrender is a darn good move for the player if he does it with the right hands. Here's a prime example. Suppose you're dealt a two-card 16 against the dealer's 10. This will happen about once every forty minutes, on average. Do you suppose you'll be able to win that hand even one-fourth of the time? The answer is – No, you won't.

Well, anytime you've got less than one chance in four to win your hand, you're better off surrendering it. Here's why. Suppose you play a few hours today and have that dreaded two-card 16 against a 10 four times. If you gave up half your bet and surrendered it all four times, you'd be down two full bets on the four hands, right? But if you played those four hands out, you'd need to win one and lose three to be down those same two full bets – and on average, you can't do it.

There are a few other blackjack hands that give you less than one chance in four to win it, but 16 against a 10 is the classic example. It's the key hand to remember to surrender, and will save you the most money over time. What are all the proper "Surrender" hands? In a multi-deck shoe game, if the dealer stands on soft 17, you should surrender:

15 against a 10
16 against a 9
16 against a 10
16 against an Ace

When the dealer hits on soft 17, you also should surrender these three additional hands along with the four above:

15 against an Ace
17 against an Ace
8/8 against an Ace

Remember, you must exercise your Surrender option before you take any hits to your hand, and you won't even get the chance to do it if the dealer has blackjack.

So how much is this precious Surrender option worth to a solid player if he plays it "by the book"? It's not enough to make an overall winner out of a good basic strategy player, but it will cut his long term dollar losses by about 15%. If you know all your other hand plays and lost $1000 last year at blackjack, it probably would've been around $850 with Surrender.

Fred Renzey
Fred Renzey is a high-stakes, expert poker player. On a daily basis he faces--and beats--some of the best players in the country in fierce poker room competition. Now for the first time, Renzey offers his perceptive insights on how to play winning poker. For Fred's 13-page blackjack booklet "Ace/10 Front Count", send $9 to Fred Renzey, P.O. Box 598, Elk Grove Village, IL, 60009

Books by Fred Renzey:

Blackjack Bluebook II

> More Books By Fred Renzey

Fred Renzey
Fred Renzey is a high-stakes, expert poker player. On a daily basis he faces--and beats--some of the best players in the country in fierce poker room competition. Now for the first time, Renzey offers his perceptive insights on how to play winning poker. For Fred's 13-page blackjack booklet "Ace/10 Front Count", send $9 to Fred Renzey, P.O. Box 598, Elk Grove Village, IL, 60009

Books by Fred Renzey:

> More Books By Fred Renzey