What is Blackjack Insurance?
In most variations of Blackjack, if the Dealer has an Ace as their face-up card, the Players all have the choice to take ‘Insurance’.
This is essentially a bet that the Dealer will have a 10 as their face-down card, giving them Blackjack.
You can take Insurance on all hands you are playing, some or none and the amount is half your initial stake. If the Dealer has Blackjack, you win the Insurance bet at odds of 2 to 1. If they have anything other than Blackjack, the Insurance bet is lost.
Insurance is effectively a side-bet which can only be taken when the Dealer shows an Ace, and like most side-bets, we strongly advise against you taking here.
Irrespective of the hand you hold, if the Dealer shows an Ace as their face-up card, most variations will give the option of taking Insurance.
Here, we look at why it is pretty much the worst bet you can take.
Why is Insurance a bad bet?
Let’s start by assuming there is just 1 deck of cards in play and you aren’t dealt a card with a value of 10 in your hand.
16 of the unseen cards in the pack – 4 10’s, 4 J’s, 4 Q’s and 4 K’s – have the value of 10.
There are 49 unseen cards in total, 52 less the Dealers Ace, less your 2 which we have said don’t have a value of 10.
If you placed an initial bet of €2, your Insurance bet would be half of this so €1.
Every time the Dealer turns over a 10, you win €3 – €1 at 2 to 1. 16 times out of 49, that would be the case, so 16 wins at €3 a time is €48. Each of those bets cost you €1 so your profit for those 16 bets would be €32.
There are 33 occasions out of the 49 that you would lose, giving you a total loss for those bets of €33.
Over the course of the 49 bets, your total win would be €32 but total loss €33 giving you a net loss of €1 from 49 hands.
In other words, for each hand you bet on Insurance on single deck Blackjack when you don’t have a 10 in your cards, you are making a loss of just over 2% on average.
This is the best-case scenario, as if you have one of the 16 10’s in your hand, the odds would be even worse for you.
Let’s now take a look at Blackjack that is played with 6 decks of cards and look at the odds of winning an Insurance bet here.
Assuming the only card we know is the Dealers Ace, there are 311 other cards available – 6 decks times 52 cards less the Ace. We clearly know what 2 cards we are dealt at the time, but not for the purpose of this article.
There are 96 cards in the 6 decks valued at 10 out of the 311 available – so 96 that will win us the bet but 215 that will lose it.
This gives a House Edge of 7.4% which is far greater than most casino games and therefore is always going to be a losing bet over the long run.
There are variables, of course, one of which would be card counting.
However, this is not possible when playing online due to the random number generator not playing the same way as a land-based casino. Even if you are playing live and have an idea of how many 10’s are left in the shoe, the changes to the House Odds are unlikely to be much different and are still likely to be stacked against you.
What about if you have Blackjack yourself?
In this instance, if the Dealer gets Blackjack as well, the main bet will be a push so you will win nothing from this. The Insurance bet – if you take it – will win 1 unit, which is half your initial bet at odds of 2 to 1.
If the Dealer does not get Blackjack, your main bet will win at 3 to 2, but by taking the Insurance bet and losing, you will lose half.
Whichever way you look at it, you will pretty much break even though you had Blackjack.
By avoiding the Insurance bet, you are still most likely to win at 3 to 2 for Blackjack if the Dealer doesn’t have a 10, and simply push the overall bet if they do.
Blackjack is a game primarily of mathematics where there are a good move and a bad move for every possible eventuality.
Taking Insurance definitely comes under the bad move section due to the higher than normal house-edge involved, and we strongly advise that it is avoided at all costs.
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