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If you’re a blackjack veteran, you’re likely familiar with all popular side bets, from doubling down to surrender. Even so, there’s a side bet many players don’t know much about — insurance.
Blackjack insurance bet has remained one of the most controversial topics surrounding this casino classic. Nobody seems to be sure whether it’s a good or a bad move. So, it’s high time we solved this mystery once and for all.
Read this article and learn all about blackjack insurance rules and their pros and cons.
What Is an Insurance Bet in Blackjack?
As you know, players receive two up-cards, while the dealer has one up and one down-card. Once all the cards have been dealt, the players have to decide how they want to proceed with the game depending on their hand and that of the dealer. Typically, they can hit, stand, or split. However, if the dealer’s up card is an ace, they might have one more option — making a blackjack insurance bet.
Insurance is a side bet that relies on the prediction that the dealer will have a natural blackjack after revealing their down-card. Since natural blackjack beats all other hands, players would immediately bust.
An insurance bet allows you to insure your hand against the dealer in case a blackjack shows up. The blackjack insurance bet is usually worth half of your initial bet. You can make it along with your original bet, and it pays out 2:1.
There’s one more instance when you may want to consider blackjack insurance aside from those we mentioned earlier. Imagine you have a blackjack, and the dealer has an ace. In these circumstances, there’s a chance that you and the dealer will have a natural blackjack simultaneously and that the round will end in a push.
A push in blackjack is neither a win nor a loss — you’d just get your initial bet back. It is still possible to win some money if you insure your hand against the dealer. This type of insurance bet is called even money.
This seems like a win-win situation, but there’s a catch. It might not pay off in the long run, and it only works in casinos whose tables still offer a 3:2 payout for players’ blackjack hands. Many casinos have made their natural blackjack payouts higher and scraped off the even money insurance bet from their offer.
Should I Take the Blackjack Insurance Bet?
Now that we’ve established what blackjack insurance bets are and how they work, let’s focus on their functionality. A common question regarding insurance bets is whether they’re really worth taking. To answer it, we have to consider the odds and probability.
The only way you can win an insurance bet is if the dealer has a 10-value card and an ace. There are 16 of these cards in a single deck, giving you around a 30% chance to hit. When you combine those odds with a 2:1 insurance bet payout, the bet seems a pretty good option. However, you have to remember that some of those 10-value cards may no longer be in the deck.
Some of the cards could be on the table or in your or other players’ hands. These factors negatively affect the 30% we’ve started with and make this bet an unfavorable move. The only situation where taking a blackjack insurance bet may be advantageous is when you can take even money. Yet, when we do the math, you’ll be better off in the long run if you avoid this bet.
Insurance Bet Pros and Cons
We’ve created a list of pros and cons to help you understand the significance of an insurance bet in blackjack. Take a look at it below:
- It can be profitable when you can take even money for your blackjack.
- It can be worthwhile if you’re a skilled card counter that has kept track of 10-value cards in the deck.
Insurance bet pros:
- The odds of hitting are often lower than 30%.
- It increases the house edge up to around 7% in a standard 6–8-deck blackjack game.
- You’re 3% better off if you don’t take it, even if you have a blackjack.
Insurance bet cons:
Blackjack insurance is a side bet that might seem enticing but is unlikely to be a good idea. It increases the house edge, it’s very hard to hit if you’re not a good card counter, and the odds are always against the players who take it.
Having that in mind, you can always try taking this bet and see how you fare. Most online blackjack games allow it, so feel free to check out our site for recommendations and register for one.