What is Insurance in Blackjack

By Steve Madson.

Insurance in blackjack is an optional side bet of up to half your original wager. It pays 2 to 1 and if won will essentially break you even for your main bet. The bet is a wager on whether the dealer’s hole card will have a value of 10 if his/her up-card is an Ace.  Keep reading to know how blackjack insurance works.1)EDITOR NOTE: As mentioned, blackjack insurance is a “side bet” which means you can bet “up to” half your original wager.  In other words, you can make a bet smaller than a half-bet.  The insurance bet is independent of your original wager.  For more information on this topic, check out the insurance entry in the Encyclopedia of Blackjack on this site.

What is Insurance in Blackjack

How does Insurance in Blackjack Work?

If your original bet is $30, you can bet up to $15 on insurance whenever the dealer has an Ace showing.  If the dealer has a 10-valued card in the hole you will win $30 on your insurance wager. Remember, it pays 2 to 1. If the dealer does not have a blackjack, you will lose your $15 insurance bet, and the hand will continue as usual. 

Choosing the Best Blackjack Site

The odds of winning an insurance bet can vary from about 5.9% (single deck) to 7.5% (8 decks).2)EDITOR NOTE: This assumes a player blackjack pays 3 to 2.  We recommend taking your time before choosing a casino. If you’re worried about the daunting work involved, an online review of the best blackjack sites will help you filter reputable sites with compelling welcome offers and bonuses. You will also learn optimal strategies, legality, and common terminologies to improve your gameplay. Some criteria experts use to find the best online blackjack sites you can adopt in your research include:

  • Reputation and licensing: We recommend online casinos that are licensed and regulated by a famous gaming authority. For instance, the Malta Gaming Authority or the UK Gambling Commission. Check the casino site for license information and testimonials to know what past players are saying about their offerings.
  • Software and games: Choose sites with different game variants. Not only this, but high-quality graphics, sound, and gameplay. Most casinos that fit the bill are powered by Microgaming, NetEnt, and leading software providers.
  • Bonuses: Welcome bonuses, reload bonuses, cashback, free spin, loyalty programs, and no deposit bonuses will reduce the risk on your capital and increase winning potential. Beyond the offer, choose a site with favorable terms and conditions.
  • Customer support: Websites with multiple ways to contact customer support offer reliable help. The channels include hotline, email, and live chat. Test their responsiveness and resolution speed.
  • Security: Sites with encryption technology like SSL and random number generators are safer. Likewise, check for regular audits by a reputable agency.
  • Banking options: The more payment options are available in the casino, the easier the ease of deposit and withdrawal. The options include credit/debit cards, e-wallets, cryptocurrency, and bank transfers.

When Should You Take Insurance in Blackjack?

The only time to take blackjack insurance is when the dealer’s up-card is an Ace.  However, due to the high house edge it is never advisable to take insurance or even money.  Even money is the same as insurance but applies only when you have a blackjack and the dealer has an Ace up-card.  Only a card counter knows when the insurance bet is profitable.

Insurance Pays 2 to 1

Risks of Taking Insurance in Blackjack

Insurance can potentially protect you against losing a big bet, however, it can also increase your loss if the dealer does not have blackjack. In the long run, blackjack insurance does more harm than good. The bet costs money. If you have a limited bankroll, you stretch your funds more than necessary, which impacts long-term stability. If the dealer doesn’t have blackjack, you will lose money. Other risks of taking insurance are:

  • Insurance bets have a high house edge – close to 8% in a multiple deck game. Players lose around 8 cents for every dollar, which is not profitable in the long run.  Compare that to the under 1% house edge of the base blackjack game.
  • It has a negative expected value. Put differently, you lose more money than you win.
  • The odds of the dealer having an Ace is less than 1 in 3. As a result, the 2:1 blackjack payout is not proportional to the chances of the dealer having a blackjack and doesn’t compensate for the risk.

What are the Odds of an Insurance Bet?

The odds in blackjack depend on the composition of the remaining cards in the deck and live blackjack insurance rules. When the dealer has an Ace up-card, 16 of the 51 unseen cards are worth 10 points. If the dealer picks any of them, they have blackjack. Hence, the probability is calculated as the number of ten-value cards divided by the number of unseen cards. In other words, 16/51= 0.3137%. The dealer will have a blackjack when the up-card is an Ace 31.34% of the time. Conversely, the probability of not having Ace is 0.6863 (1-0.3137) or 68.63%.

Can you Play Insurance in All Versions of Blackjack?

Insurance is not available in all versions. The availability depends on the rules and game variants. It is most common in Classic, American, and European blackjacks. That said, you may not find it in the following versions:

  • Single-deck (with 6 to 5 rules)
  • Double exposure
  • Spanish 21

To Sum Up

When players take insurance, they are betting that the dealer has a natural 21 when the dealer’s up-card is an Ace. Although it can protect against potential losses, it comes with risks. If the player is mistaken, he loses his bet and reduces his bankroll.  Knowledge is power in blackjack.  If you really want to gamble, take the insurance bet when you have a big bet out.  But it is best to avoid the insurance bet completely.

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Footnotes

Footnotes
1EDITOR NOTE: As mentioned, blackjack insurance is a “side bet” which means you can bet “up to” half your original wager.  In other words, you can make a bet smaller than a half-bet.  The insurance bet is independent of your original wager.  For more information on this topic, check out the insurance entry in the Encyclopedia of Blackjack on this site.
2EDITOR NOTE: This assumes a player blackjack pays 3 to 2.

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