What is Insurance in Blackjack?
Insurance is a type of side bet that pays off when the dealer shows a blackjack. The twist is that you must have a good timing or else your bet will lose. This, of course, is a recurring theme since online blackjack is all about timing – when to hit when to hold, so there’s nothing out of the ordinary about insurance. If played correctly, the bet can provide a nice consolation prize, given that your main wager will be toast most of the time when the dealer shows a blackjack.
How big of a prize? – you might ask. Well, insurance in blackjack pays 2 to 1. Just the right amount to cover your main bet for losing to a natural 21 and still win something extra. Before making any conclusions in regards to the profitability of this side bet, we’ll have to look at the odds of winning, which is the theme of the following paragraph.
How Does Blackjack Insurance Work?
The dealer’s top card being an ace enables you to place an insurance wager. After doing so, the dealer will check his face-down card to see whether it completes a Blackjack. This is called “a peek” and is meant to prevent the player from losing more money in the round. If you take the bet, however, you’ll be glad to see the dealer turn over a 21. You’ll most likely lose the main bet, but at the very least you’ll win the Insurance wager, which is the point of taking insurance in the first place.
When you place a blackjack insurance bet, there are six possible outcomes. In the table below, we have listed the outcomes that could occur. To clearly show the result of each scenario, we have shown the net gains and losses based on a $100 initial stake and $50 insurance bet.
|Neither dealer nor player has blackjack, dealer goes on to win the hand||You lose initial stake and insurance bet – Net loss $150|
|Neither dealer nor player has blackjack, you go on to win the hand||You win from initial stake but lose insurance bet – Net gain $50|
|Neither dealer nor player has blackjack, hand is a push||Initial bet returned, insurance bet lost – Net loss $50|
|Both dealer and player have blackjack||Initial stake is returned, you wins insurance bet – Net gain $100|
|Player has blackjack, dealer does not||Blackjack pays 3:2 and you win $150 and lose insurance bet – Net gain $100|
|Dealer has blackjack, player does not||You lose initial bet and win insurance bet – No gain or loss|
Explaining what insurance is, we pointed out that it’s an optional bet that pays double the amount you wagered. Whether that’s worth it or not is up for debate, but we did our best to summarise our opinion in the conclusion of this article.
Is Insurance Worth it?
Even for those that are not mathematically minded it’s abundantly clear that for this to work in your favour, you have to be right every other time or better. The question is what’s the probability of making the right guess? Well, the odds of the dealer making Blackjack are 9 to 4 (2.25:1). This means that taking the bet on the casino’s terms, you will be in a slightly disadvantageous position.
That’s why no casino pundit would ever hint at taking insurance being a brilliant idea. You have to be very well aware of how many high cards are left in the shoe to be able to make a discernment whether it’s worth placing the bet or not. That would be the best strategy how to win on blackjack, which is also known as card counting. All in all, you have to factor in a lot to squeeze out any value from the insurance side bet and this isn’t for everyone.
The Best time to Buy Insurance
You heard us say a couple of times that the odds of Insurance don’t justify tapping into the bet. At the same time, it’s fair to say that advantage players love Insurance and that’s for a good reason. That’s so because being able to keep track of the cards that are in play and adequately assess the chances of a natural blackjack coming up is what you need to make this work. That is one of the advantages of being good at card counting.
But let’s assume that you don’t know a thing about counting cards. Then what you have to do is simply look at the hands the other players are holding (if there are other players), look at your hand and count the number of 10s there you see on the table. If there aren’t any or just one, then the chances of the dealer turning over a 10 are quite good. Bear in mind this method of deduction is only viable in the first one or two rounds after a new shoe is brought over.
Is Insurance Good for You – the Final Verdict
The math on taking Insurance show unequivocally that it’s probably not the best thing to do on a regular basis. If you’re wondering “what are the odds in blackjack”, consult this very informative article of ours. On balance, Insurance is a nice touch that allows for even more moments of excitement but isn’t very practical when you look at it from a player’s perspective.
There is an appropriate time for Insurance, meaning that you can still get something out of it if you pay close attention to the course of the game. The chances are, you are not a seasoned card counter, so it will be wiser if you don’t buy insurance regularly. Every now and then is fine but don’t make a habit of doing it. Playing blackjack without dabbling with side bets reduces the advantage of the house.
Now that our blackjack isurance guide has come to an end, we hope that you better understand the bet, how it works, and when to use it. If you still have any questions, then you should check out the following FAQ section. We have collated common questions on the topic and provided concise answers.