Blackjack Strategies: When to Surrender? Should You Take Insurance?

One of the most dreaded situations that players would not want to face in the game of blackjack is when the dealer draws a blackjack – and prevents all other players from winning, even if they have blackjack themselves. Casinos however, offer a way out by allowing you to surrender or take insurance and preventing you from losing all your bet to the dealer’s blackjack.

The surrender option is given because there are many players that are still inexperienced in the game and will most likely surrender on hands like 12’s or 13’s. But just like any other blackjack strategy, you must learn how to use the surrender and insurance options properly or you’ll end up wasting a lot of your money.

What Does it Mean to Surrender in Blackjack

You can surrender your hand after you are dealt with your first two cards and you can do this in two ways. You can verbally tell the dealer that you surrender or make a signal using your hand, particularly by putting your finger on the layout and move it from right to left – a signal preferred by most casinos. You then forfeit your chance of playing the hand and the dealer will immediately take half of your bet.

Not all casinos offer surrender so it would be best to take a quick look at the rules card or ask the dealer if the option is allowed. It may seem like a coward’s way out but using surrender properly can increase your chances of walking away with your money instead of losing it all on the tables.

When to Surrender Your Hand

The most obvious reason for surrendering is when you have a slim chance of winning your hand. If the odds are definitely not in your favor, it would be logical to lose only half of your bet instead of losing it all. The rule of thumb when surrendering is when your chances of winning is less than 25% which means the casino has 50% or more chance of winning the hand and getting all your bet. The following are hands that you should surrender to:

• If you are dealt with a 16 and the dealer has an up card of a 9, 10, Face card or Ace

• If you are dealt with a 15 and the dealer has an up card of a 10 or Face card

Do not surrender when you are dealt with a soft 15 or 16 or an eight pair. The Ace is counted as 11 but you can still add more cards without the fear of busting even with a 10 or Face card. When the dealer has an Ace for an up card, you cannot surrender until he checks for blackjack. If there is no blackjack, and you have a 15 or 16 you may or may not surrender. However, this is not advisable since the house end at this point is not greater than 50%.

What are the Odds of Winning Insurance Bets?

Insurance is an option that many blackjack players see as an option where they will not lose money if the dealer draws a natural blackjack. With insurance, players can get their original bets back and will not lose it all when the dealer draws a blackjack. However, expert blackjack players say that taking insurance is bad for their blackjack odds and should not be included as part of their blackjack strategies.

The dealer has to have a 10 in the hole to get a natural blackjack and for you to break even with your insurance bet. The odds of this happening are 31% in a single deck game. The odds that the dealer will not get a natural blackjack and get any of the other nine cards is 69% — which increase the odds for you losing your insurance bet.

Just looking at these odds will tell you that taking insurance is not a wise strategy and will only end up with you losing more money from your insurance bets. Even if you win insurance four times and eventually lose it for another nine time will end up with you not breaking even and losing more money than what you expected. This is what casinos prefer and that is why insurance options are allowed and encouraged – for it is definitely a money-maker for them.

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