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HOME > > Sometimes It Is Best to Surrender

Sometimes It Is Best to Surrender

27 April 2021

By Frank Scoblete

In the glory days of blackjack, and maybe even in some casinos today (maybe in the remote hinterlands), there was an option called “surrender.” If you didn’t like your hand you could give up half your bet. This was an excellent option if used correctly.

If you were saddled with a 16 and the dealer showed a 10, you could figure you were going to bust or the dealer was going to have a high hand, so you would say, “Surrender.” And that would be that. The dealer would take half your bet.

I remember once using this option in Tropworld (now the Tropicana) in Atlantic City and the dealer kept busting my chops by saying, “You coward! Don’t you have the courage to play out your hand?” I probably should have told this guy to “shut up” or “take a hike” or “swim out into the ocean as far as you can.” I didn’t; I’d just smile. The option was helping me; the dealer wasn’t.

I haven’t found this option in casinos lately. Too bad; it did reduce the house edge somewhat and that’s always a good thing. I guess it is sometimes good to be a coward if you get a chance.

Roulette has two surrender-type options at some casinos. You can probably still find one of these options in Atlantic City and the other of these in some of the European or Asian casinos.

In the American version the option is called surrender (take that you Tropworld dealer!). In the European game, the option is called en prison.

The American double-zero wheel (0, 00) has 38 pockets for the ball to fall into. The payout is 35 to one for a hit directly on the number wagered. The house edge on these straight up bets is 5.26 percent. That means an average loss of $5.25 per $100 wagered over time.

However, there are even-money proposition bets, the high/low, the red/black and the odd/even wagers, that will pay one to one. You bet $10, you win the decision, and you are paid $10.

The player has 18 ways to win one of those proposition bets and 20 ways to lose it. The house edge would still be 5.26 percent unless the casino had the surrender option. That option means that if the 0 or 00 hits, the casino will only take half of your even-money bet. This reduces the house edge to 2.63 percent – nowhere near as bad as the other bets at the game.

In the European single-zero game (0) the even-money bets still pay one-to-one but, if the 0 hits, again you only lose half your bet. The dealer does not take the bet; instead he or she leaves the bet up for the next decision. This option is called the en prison rule – your bet is locked up (as that dealer from Tropworld should have been).

En prison reduces the house edge on the European game down from 2.70 percent to 1.35 percent; one of the lowest edges in the casino.

The recommendation here is clear; if a casino has surrender or en prison you would be crazy to not make this your exclusive bet at the game.

All the best in and out of the casino!

Frank Scoblete’s web site is www.frankscoblete.com. His books are available at Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, Kindle, e-books and at bookstores.

This article is provided by the Frank Scoblete Network. Melissa A. Kaplan is the network's managing editor. If you would like to use this article on your website, please contact Casino City Press, the exclusive web syndication outlet for the Frank Scoblete Network. To contact Frank, please e-mail him at fscobe@optonline.net.

Frank Scoblete
Frank Scoblete is the #1 best-selling gaming author in AmericaFrank Scoblete is the #1 best selling gaming author in America. His newest books include Slots Conquest: How to Beat the Slot Machines; Everything Casino Poker: Get the Edge at Video Poker, Texas Hold'em, Omaha Hi-Lo and Pai Gow Poker!; Beat Blackjack Now: The Easiest Way to Get the Edge; Casino Craps: Shoot to Win! and Cutting Edge Craps: Advanced Strategies for Serious Players.

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