Same Blackjack Shoe: Surrender Adds $250 vs. No Surrender

I’ve preached the benefits of using surrender* as part of a successful blackjack strategy for the past few years.  I’m convinced that using surrender is one of the most important pieces to a profitable blackjack session since it gives the player a little more control over the flow of the game.  I tell anyone who will listen that they need to use it and I don’t get very excited to play at casinos that don’t offer it.

I wanted to find a way to ‘prove’ surrender is better to myself in tangible terms.  Obviously I’m a big fan, and the math nerds say that using surrender increases your odds of winning slightly, so I came up with the best way I could think of to test the difference between using surrender and not – an A/B test of the same shoe played both with and without surrender rules.

An A/B test is fairly simple – you test two alternatives by keeping all other variables constant.  In this case the other variables are the cards and betting strategy.

I’m no scientist and this was only one shoe so I don’t contend that this either a perfect test nor an exhaustive study, but here is how I constructed my test:  I took my 6-deck blackjack shoe and played it with a $300 buy-in and $25 minimum bet using surrender rules first and when I had the first surrender event (16 vs. dealer 10) I noted my chip count (405) and from that moment on kept the cards in the exact same order as they were dealt so that I could play them back again using non-surrender rules.

At the end of the surrender shoe – during which I surrendered twice – I ended with a total of $585.  A profit of $285.

At the end of the same shoe using non-surrender rules I ended with $335.  Still a profit at $35, but $250 LESS than the same shoe using surrender strategy.

One shoe does not equal a definitive study and I’m certain there are many shoes out there where playing non-surrender strategy will net out to a higher profit.  In this case the results played out in a way to support my theory and I truly believe that this same test would produce similar results, if not as dramatic, on a consistent basis.

I’m going to replay this test in future home sessions in order to have more data points for comparison.  I’ll continue to report the results here so I can keep track of the cumulative results.  Until I see differently for myself I’ll continue to sing the praises and play surrender strategy in my own game.

*Surrender in blackjack is when you ‘give up’ your hand after the initial deal for half of your bet amount – so if you have a $50 bet and your cards are a 16 and the dealer has a 10 showing you can surrender your hand at which point the dealer will take half your bet ($25) and give you half ($25) back.


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