Online Blackjack Games with Early Surrender – Do They Exist?

Blackjack is all about strategy and decision-making, with hitting, standing, splitting, and doubling being the four main moves players can choose from when acting on a hand. A fifth move known as surrender is possible, although most beginner players are unfamiliar with it due to its rare availability.

There are two versions of this move, late and early surrender, and while both benefit the player in certain situations, the latter brings far greater gains than the former. As you shall see shortly, the early surrender play is rather advantageous to players, so much so that it has become nearly obsolete.

Early surrender is so uncommon that most strategy charts altogether omit it as a viable option. Blackjack fans will be hard-pressed to find it at online casinos but early surrender has not entirely disappeared yet. Online blackjack variants with this rule are hard to come by but do exist nonetheless.

The Surrender Move in Brief

The Surrender Move in BriefWhen surrendering, a blackjack player folds a hand and gets half of their original wager back while the dealer collects the other half. Players should evidently make this move only with really bad starting totals that bear little to no improvement. Surrender is not available at all blackjack tables and many beginner players have no idea about its existence.

Surrendering is possible only at the very beginning of a round after the initial deal. Players cannot exercise this move if they have already split, hit, or doubled down on a hand.

Surrender Rules in Blackjack

We already mentioned there are two versions of this rule, namely late and early surrender. Late surrender is far more common than early surrender, and you can find it in various online blackjack releases by major software studios like Playtech. So what is the difference between the two types of surrender? It all comes down to what happens when the dealer’s exposed card is a ten or an ace.

Early Surrender
Late Surrender

Situations That Call for Early Surrender

Situations That Call for Early SurrenderEarly surrender is so rare that many players have never even heard of it. Others are familiar with this move but mistakenly assume it is a bad play. A third group of blackjack players recognizes surrendering offers some value but is still averse to taking advantage of this option even when available.

With that said, you should never overdo it with this play. Surrendering is only a viable option when your starting hands puts you at a severe disadvantage against particularly strong dealer upcards. Some inexperienced players surrender more often than basic strategy recommends and end up losing a lot of money as a result.

It is worth mentioning that some of the basic strategy plays for early surrender differ from those for late surrender. Most of the differences concern weak hard totals against solid dealer upcards like aces and tens.

Early Surrender in Multi-Deck Blackjack Games
Early Surrender in Single-Deck Blackjack Games

Early Surrender’s Impact on Players’ Expected Value

Early Surrender’s Impact on Players’ Expected ValueEarly surrender is as rare as hen’s teeth where online blackjack is concerned, but this is unsurprising considering how sharply it reduces the house edge. The opportunity to surrender early against a dealer’s ten takes away approximately 0.24% from the casino’s advantage.

The house loses another 0.39% of its edge if early surrender is available when the dealer shows an ace. This makes for an overall house edge reduction of more than 0.60%, which enormously improves players’ expected value in the long run.

By means of comparison, reducing the number of decks in play from eight to one has a lesser impact on the house edge than early surrender. Late surrender also offers some value to blackjack players, albeit to a much lesser degree. It decreases the house edge by approximately 0.07%.

This figure may seem negligible but it still has a positive effect on players’ long-term profitability. If you consistently bet in increments of $10, for example, the late surrender rule can save you approximately ¢50 per hour over the long haul.

Early and Late Surrender Effect on Expected Value
Early Surrender vs. the Dealer’s 10 0.24%
Early Surrender vs. the Dealer’s Ace 0.39%
Late Surrender vs. the Dealer’s 10 0.07%
Late Surrender vs. the Dealer’s Ace 0.00%
On rare occasions, players have the option to use late surrender after splitting a pair. Making this move unfortunately has no effect on their long-term expectation, neither increasing it nor decreasing it.

Early Surrender in Online Blackjack Games

Early Surrender in Online Blackjack GamesOnline blackjack games with early surrender are a rare find but they do exist. One of the very few variations to implement this rule is Big 5 Blackjack Gold by Microgaming. Do not be too quick to get excited, though. The software developers have incorporated several unfavorable rules into the game to offset the impact of the early surrender and restore the house advantage.

The variation derives its name from the fact it uses five full decks of cards. Additionally, this is a no-peek game where the dealer does not take any hole cards. Instead, they receive a single faceup card at the initial deal and draw a second one only after players have made their decisions.

To add insult to injury, early surrender is only permitted against the dealer’s 10, which takes away 0.39% of your expected value. Other than that, the rest of the rules are rather decent as you can see below. The variation is available in multi-hand format, allowing you to play up to five betting spots simultaneously.

Rules of Big 5 Blackjack Gold


The dealer hits on soft totals of 17


The dealer does not peek due to the absence of hole cards


Players can double down on any two-card total


Players can double down after they split pairs


Splitting is possible up to three times to form four hands


Split aces receive only one card


Players can split unlike ten-value cards (eg. K/Q, J/K, 10/J)


A split ace next to a ten-value card counts as a regular 21 and returns even money


A split ace next to a ten-value card counts as a regular 21 and returns even money


Blackjacks pay at odds of 3 to 2

All these playing conditions combined result in a long-term theoretical return of 99.55% for a house advantage of 0.45%. However, these percentages are accurate only on condition players consistently implement the correct basic strategy for this game.

The correct plays for early surrender against the dealer’s 10 under this ruleset are to fold when you have hard 14, 15, and 16. Early surrender versus the dealer’s ten-value card is also recommended with paired 7s and paired 8s.