Ask Dr. Blackjack: Surrendering and Riding in Blackjack


With casino gaming being one of the most attractive recreational activities in the United States and over 500 casinos to choose from, AY Magazine would like to help you enjoy your gaming experience in the casinos when playing blackjack, the most popular table game in history, by letting you ask professional player and author of Ask Dr Blackjack, Sam Barrington, your puzzling questions.

If you have a question about blackjack, please contact AY Magazine or Sam Barrington directly at Your question and the answer will be shared with our readers (anonymously, of course, if desired) in subsequent magazine editions.

Follow AY Magazine to find out the dates and times of free blackjack seminars by Sam Barrington.

So, let’s get to the questions!

(My private seminars have been cut a little short lately. A few of the Mississippi casinos have asked me to present seminars to some of their invited guests on a fairly regular basis so that endeavor has kept me a little busy. I still plan on giving local seminars as often as I can so check in with AY Magazine for dates and times.)

RELATED: Read our most recent Ask Dr. Blackjack article!

From Tommy in Covington, LA:

“I have heard of a term called “Surrender” in blackjack. What exactly is that and is it a wise play?

Sam says: “If you can find a table that offers surrender, it is one of the very best options available to a player. Surrender is not offered at many casinos because it favors the player too much. Say you are sitting there with the dreaded hard count of “16” and the dealer is showing a “7” or better as the “up-card”. You can surrender your hand and the dealer will take one half of your wager. You are probably saying that you’re not giving up your bet without a fight. Give it up. That’s a smart bet. Now, there are two versions of “Surrender”. There is the “Early Surrender” where you can surrender as soon as you see the dealer’s “up-card”. By “Early Surrendering,” you will come out better by 5.21% against the “7”, 5.35% against the “8”, 11.94% against the “9”, 19.68% against the “10” and a whopping 30.68% against the “A”. Most places do not offer the “Early Surrender” but do offer what is called a “Late Surrender”. “Late Surrender” is the same as “Early Surrender” except the dealer always checks for a blackjack hand and if he has blackjack then no “Surrender” is available.”

From Paisley in Little Rock:

“When the pit boss brings out fresh cards and opens the box, they make a big production of spreading the cards and looking at both sides. What’s really up with that?”

Sam says: “There are three things that the dealer and pit boss are looking for during this extravaganza. First of all, they want to make sure all the cards (52 of those babies) are all there. Secondly, they are looking for any kind of marks on the back of the cards. And the number three thing is to make sure all correct cards are in play. I have been at a table when a high-roller has come into a game when cards are in play and the player would ask the pit boss to fan the cards so he (the player) can make sure all the correct cards are in play. Did you know if you pull a “10” count card out and replace it with a “5” it gives the “House” almost a full 1% (.989) advantage?”

From Nick in North Little Rock:

“My friends tell me I should always let a little of my winnings “ride” over to the next hand. What is your opinion on that philosophy?”

Sam says: “If you win a hand, in the long run, you will lose the next hand 57.64% of the time. Why would you give the “House” a 7.64% edge? By the way, do you know the chances of winning four hands in row is only 4.62%? I, personally, would go the opposite direction and use a Martindale theory of doubling up if I were to do anything just a little squirrelly. Do you know you’ll lose, on the average, five hands in a row only 3.92% of the time?”

RELATED: Read more from Dr. Blackjack!

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