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Blackjack Surrender Strategy
Some online blackjack variants allow the player to make a move that is known as "surrender". This move functions in the following manner. The player is dealt his two cards and the dealer is dealt one card face up and the other card face down. If the face up card is an ace then the dealer checks for blackjack. If the dealer has a blackjack the hand is over the player loses his entire wager. If the dealer does not have a blackjack then the player has the option to surrender. The player can, without making any other move, surrender and forfeit half his wager. In blackjack variants where dealer does not check for blackjack or does not receive his second card upfront the player can surrender as soon as he is dealt his cards and the dealer is dealt his face up card.
There are three main factors that determine whether or not a player should surrender. As in other blackjack moves these factors are the player's hand value, the dealer's face up card and whether the dealer hits or stands on a hand value of soft 17. In this lesson each of the above factors will be taken up one at a time and the decision whether to surrender or not will be discussed.
Dealer stands on soft 17
Under this rule the only time a player should surrender is when he has a hard hand value of 15 or 16, subject to the dealer's face up card. A hard hand value implies that there is no ace in the two cards dealt. Therefore a hand value of hard 15 can be achieved by the player having 10 and 5, 9 and 6 or 8 and 7. In such a case the player should surrender only when the dealer's face up card is 10.
A hand value of hard 16 can be achieved by the player having 10 and 6, 9 and 7 or 8 and 8. If the player has a pair of 8s then he should split his hand irrespective of the dealer's face up card. In the other two cases the player should surrender only when the dealer's face up card is 9, 10 or ace.
Dealer hits on soft 17
When the dealer hits on a total of soft 17 he has an advantage because there is a likelihood of his ending up with a valid total greater than 17. Therefore the player is forced to go on the defensive and surrender more often. Again players should surrender only when they have hard totals.
When the player has a hand value of hard 15 he should surrender only when the dealer has 10 or ace as his face up card. When the player has a hand value of hard 16, except when he has a pair of 8s, he should surrender only when the dealer's face up card is 9, 10 or ace. However he should surrender even with a pair of 8s if the dealer's face up card is an ace. When the player has a hand value of hard 17 he should surrender only when the dealer's face up card is an ace.
There is a mathematical basis to the above described strategy for surrendering in blackjack. When the player's expected chance of winning is less than 50% it is better that the player forfeits half his wager and thus salvages the other half.
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