Insurance in blackjack is a side bet you can place if the dealer’s upcard is an Ace. Insurance bets have a payout of 2:1 and act as insurance against the dealer’s hand being 21. It’s a strategy that can prevent potential short-term losses when you know how to use it.
Read on to discover exactly what blackjack insurance is and how to make it work for you.
How Does a Blackjack Insurance Bet Work?
Blackjack insurance, a side bet that protects players against the dealer having a blackjack, is a way of trying to try and protect your losses.
Blackjack has 4 cards that are worth ten: 10, Jack, Queen, and King. So, if you are an expert in card counting, you can place an insurance bet if you think the dealer will get blackjack after revealing their second card.
Insurance betting in blackjack has a payout ratio of 2:1. Moreover, the bet only allows you to stake up to half of the initial bet.
For example, if you place an initial bet of $20, your insurance bet would be $10. If the dealer reveals the second card and turns out to have a blackjack, you would receive a $20 profit and a $10 stake. In this case, you will break even, meaning you won’t lose any money. But if the insurance bet loses, you would lose $10, and the hand will continue as normal.
One important thing worth mentioning is that there are best times and worst times to use this type of side bet. The best time to use the strategy is when the dealer’s upcard is an Ace, and you have a stronger hand of 15 or more. If you have a blackjack hand worth 15 or more, you will still have more chances to win the round if the insurance bet loses.
On the other hand, the worst time to use the insurance side bet is when you have a hand that is below 15. A hand like this one may not win even after losing the insurance bet.
Another thing you should note is that while most blackjack variants offer insurance bets, there are some games that don’t offer such side bets. A good example is Super Fun 21. The rules in this blackjack variant are considered loose, meaning that players have more chances of beating the dealer.
Example of Insurance Betting in Blackjack
A blackjack insurance betting system is a type of gambling strategy that can help you protect your wagering bankroll. But like any other betting strategy, it doesn’t guarantee you a 100% win. In other words, you can use insurance in Blackjack and win in the short term but lose in the long term.
Below are two examples of how a blackjack insurance bet can play out:
When to Take Insurance in a Blackjack Game
One big question that always rings in the players’ minds is when to take insurance bets when they play blackjack online. As stated, the best time to place an insurance bet is when the dealer’s up card is an Ace, and you have a decent hand of 15 or more. With a hand of 15 or more, you still have more chances of beating the dealer if their hand turns out not to be a blackjack. You should also take insurance bets if you believe that the dealer’s second card is a 10 or a picture card.
Insurance in Blackjack is only profitable in the short term. For you to win, the dealer’s second hand must be 10 or a pictured card. Plus, there are 16 such cards out of the 49 remaining on the deck, which means you have approximately a 30% chance of hitting.
So, if you place a $10 bet 16 times at a payout ratio of 2:1, you would win a profit of $320 (a profit of $20 each). But again, there are 33 losses of $10, which translate to $330. If you do the mathematics here, you will end up losing $10 in the long term (320-330) =-10.
And remember, the above case scenario assumes that there is one player playing against the dealer. In a case where there are several players, you will find that several cards are already on the table. For example, if there are 6 players, it is possible to have 2 or 3 tens on the table. This will drop the chances of the dealer having a blackjack to around 20-25%.
Pros & Cons of Insurance Betting
Taking blackjack insurance has both benefits and disadvantages, including the following:
- Profitable for card counters – Players who keep track of all ten-point cards dealt and those left on the deck can capitalize on that and boost their chances of winning.
- No losses in the short term – If you apply the blackjack insurance strategy correctly, you will make some profits in the short term. The payout ratio is 2:1 when the dealer’s second hand is a ten.
- Payout of 3:2 when you have a blackjack – As a player, you can place an insurance bet even if you have a blackjack hand. If you manage to protect that hand from the dealer’s hand, you will receive a payout of 3:2.
- Simple to use – You don’t need to be an experienced player in order to apply the blackjack insurance strategy. All you need to do is bet against the dealer’s hand being a blackjack.
- Perfect way to safeguard your money – Blackjack insurance is a risk management strategy. This means that even if you don’t win, you can break even and get back your original bet.
- Not profitable in the long term – Blackjack insurance is considered a losing strategy in the long run. Unless you are a good card counter, you will most likely make losses in the long run.
- The blackjack odds are often against the player – Insurance bets usually have a 3% house advantage. So, even if there is a 2:1 payout ratio, the casino will always take 3%.
- High house edge when played using 6-8 decks – The house edge will always increase up to 7% when the game is played with 6-8 decks. This reduces your profit as a player.
Blackjack Insurance – Is the Strategy Worthwhile?
An insurance bet sounds like a good deal, especially when the dealer has an Ace, and you have a poor hand but to try and improve your blackjack odds. However, the chances of the dealer’s second card being a ten are only around 30%. This means you need to be careful when taking an insurance bet, as any uniformed bet may double your losses.
You need to be a good card counter if you want this blackjack strategy to work for you. You also need to understand all the blackjack insurance rules to really enhance your gameplay odds. That said, blackjack insurance bets are a good strategy for short-term profits.