Blackjack insurance is one of the most highly misunderstood components of Blackjack. Unfortunately, there are plenty of new punters that use side bets without properly understanding their purpose first. If you are new in the game, perhaps you should peruse through our gambling guide and get to know the dos and don’ts.
Ask any professional player and they will tell you that you should never use insurance bet because when betting, winning is never assured unless you are card counting or able to predict the result of the hand.
Whenever the opportunity arises, a dealer will ask you beforehand whether you want the insurance. Most novice players are easily fooled into accepting the insurance thinking that it is a good idea. However, this is usually a poor wager because while it might feel like a safe bet, almost all blackjack casinos use it to lull players into a false sense of security.
So, what exactly is blackjack insurance?
Blackjack insurance is one of the many game rules found in almost every variety of twenty-one, whether offered online or in live casinos. Insurance, which is also commonly known as a Side Bet, is especially popular among table game fans and Blackjack players.
How blackjack insurance works
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Ideally, insurance is a side bet, which means that it is placed separately from your original wager. When players place insurance on the blackjack, the bet is also called even money. Insurance is placed for half the value of your initial bet. For example, if you wager $10 on your blackjack hand and the dealer has a face-up ace on the table, you will be given the option to take out insurance worth $5.
What you will be betting on with this amount is the possibility or chance that your dealer will have a natural blackjack. As such, you will only be offered the chance to place this side bet if the dealer has an ace that is face-up.
If the dealer turns over the card and he or she has a blackjack, you will receive a win of $5 on your insurance bet, making it $10 in total. If the dealer did not have a natural blackjack; in this instance, you would inevitably lose the $5 insurance wager.
If you find that your dealer has blackjack after insurance, you will win the insurance bet at two to one odds. Which means that your hand will break even. On the other hand, if the dealer should fail to have blackjack, you will automatically lose the insurance bet. In any case, the possible outcomes when taking out insurance using the above example are that:
- A $5 win.
- Break even
- A $15 loss.
The possible outcomes when you choose not to take the insurance, using the above as an example are:
- A $10 win.
- A $10 loss.
Looking at the above statistics, it is more advisable to opt for a $10 win or $10 loss when the dealer is holding an Ace, as opposed to a maximum win of $5 and a likely loss of $15, not just in the long run, but in the short term, as well.
Furthermore, in every full deck of cards (has 52), in blackjack, 4 out of every 13 cards are worth 10 points. If you wagered $10 as an insurance bet each time the dealer showed an Ace to ‘insure’ yourself against the worst conceivable outcome, on average, you would get a profit of $80 with a 2:1 pay-out. This means that you would have won 4 of the bets but lost 9 of the others, leaving you with a loss of $90. Consequently, the house will gain $10, and if you keep going, you are bound to lose more money in the long run.
When you should take blackjack insurance
Although it is ill-advised, blackjack insurance when offered can make sense in certain situations. The primary reason why players do it is when they are anticipating a 10. Players that use instincts or their gut feeling when betting or those who do not necessarily care about the math of it all, take insurance when they assume that the dealer is running hot. Alternatively, players that count cards or are careful about statistics take insurance when they have done their calculations and they are sure that a 10 is impending.
Why blackjack insurance is a bad idea
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There are some players that argue that insurance can be an excellent strategy to use when you want to guarantee that your potential loses will be covered, which might enable you to quite possibly earn a healthy payout. As stated earlier, insurance makes sense when you know exactly when to take it, but the only way to know when you have an ideal situation is if you are good at counting cards. As such, this explains why professionals always advise new players that are inexperienced to avoid blackjack insurance.
Many players are also fond of taking maximum insurance when they observe a 2-card natural hand rather than risk a push. In such a case, this is disadvantageous as the Ten in the player’s blackjack will mean that the dealer is less likely to have a blackjack. In the end, while many players fall for insurance bets when they are presented to them, the truth is that these bets are usually unprofitable, unwise, and you will find that they have no bearing at all on your hand.
A lot of new players do not take the time to educate themselves about blackjack rules such as the insurance or side bet, which is a huge blunder on their part. Because of this lack of knowledge, blackjack insurance is taken out all too often. It is important to remain informed about its strategic value before playing so as to protect your finances and your overall experience.
If you use insurance every time you have a hunch, it can be a dangerous method of playing in blackjack because it will cause you to abandon your reasoning. You can always play your hand based on the assumption that the dealer has blackjack, but you should never take out insurance because the odds are against you at all times.
BONUS READ: The Blackjack Rule of 23: Theory and Practice