What is insurance in blackjack? Insurance is one of the many options offered to a blackjack player, but it is an option which is most often exercised incorrectly in live play. Insurance is a side bet which is considered independently of the main wager made by the player. All casinos offer insurance as a standard option. This is true in online casinos that offer blackjack also. What players should remember, however, is that just because an option is available doesn’t always make it a good option.
Serious blackjack players should know when to use insurance and when to pass it up. Taking insurance at the right time can reduce the house edge by a small margin.
What Is Insurance in Blackjack?
Insurance is the act of protecting your hand against the possibility that the dealer has blackjack. In a game of 21, a blackjack by the dealer means an immediate loss for the player. Whenever a dealer shows a 10, the first thing he will do after dealing the cards is check his hand for a blackjack. If the dealer has an ace in the hole, he will turn his cards over and collect the bets of every player who does not also have a blackjack.
Whenever the dealer shows an ace the process is a little different. Before peeking at his hole card, the dealer will ask the players at the table if they would like to take insurance. If a player wants to make this side bet they must place an additional bet of exactly one-half of their initial bet on the table in the area marked INSURANCE. Once all players have made their decision, the dealer will check to see if they have a blackjack.
If the dealer has a blackjack, players who took insurance will lose their original wager. They will win their insurance side bet and collect odds of 2-1. The end result here is that the player has come out even on the hand. He does not win any money, but he does not lose any. If the dealer does not have a blackjack, players who took insurance will lose their insurance bet and the hand continues as normal with players being given the opportunity to act on their hand in a normal manner.
How To Take Insurance
As a player you can only take blackjack insurance once the dealer has asked if anyone wants to take it. When it is you turn, if you want to take insurance simply place an amount of chips equal to one-half of your original bet on the table. In other words, if you originally bet $10 on the hand you would place a $5 chip on the table near the word INSURANCE. The dealer will recognize that you have chosen to take insurance and move on to the next player.
Taking insurance does not involve speaking or any other hand motion. If you say, “I want to take insurance,” this is fine but you will look like an amateur to the other players at the table.
If you happen to be playing blackjack online, taking insurance is very simple. Whenever the dealer shows an ace a box will light up on your screen with the word INSURANCE? If you want to exercise this option, just click the box and the insurance bet will be placed automatically.
The Truth About Insurance
What a deal! The casino is offering you a way to protect yourself when the dealer has a blackjack. How nice of them, right? Wrong. The casino doesn’t do players any favors when it comes to blackjack. It may seem like insurance is a good deal for you, but let’s take a look at a few percentages. The house edge on the insurance side bet is as follows according to the number of decks used in the game:
As you can see, the insurance bet is strongly in favor of the house. In other words, it is a bad bet. What those percentages reflect is how much more likely the casino is to win the bet. To simplify your understanding of the house edge, take the example of a single deck game. For every $100 you bet on insurance, the casino will win back almost $106. That means that for every $100 you bet on insurance you will get back about $94, or a $6 loss. Get the picture?
Now, losing $6 on every $100 you bet over the course of a long blackjack session might not seem like a big deal. Smart blackjack players know that it is a very big deal. Failing to pay attention to the percentages at blackjack will make you a loser.
The Only Time To Take Blackjack Insurance
There is only one scenario when a blackjack player should even consider taking insurance. If you also hold a blackjack, you might want to insure your own blackjack to guarantee a positive return. Blackjacks are paid at 3-2 and they don’t come around that often. If you are unlucky enough to receive a blackjack at the same time as the dealer, this is what is known as a push. A push means that you tie the hand and receive no money for you blackjack.
When you take insurance in this scenario, you will push on the blackjack but you will collect 2-1 on your insurance bet. If the dealer does not have a blackjack you will lose the insurance bet but collect 3-2 on your blackjack.
Some players always insure their own blackjack. The truth is that it is still a bad bet. You will be better off in the long run if you ride out the hand and hope the dealer doesn’t have a blackjack.
- What is “insurance” in blackjack?
- Insurance is a side bet that players can make when the dealer’s upcard is an Ace. It’s a wager on whether the dealer has a blackjack (a 10-value card as their hidden card).
- How does insurance work?
- If the dealer shows an Ace, before checking for blackjack, players are given the option to take insurance. The insurance bet is typically half of the original bet. If the dealer has blackjack, the insurance bet pays 2:1, covering the loss of the original wager.
- Is taking insurance a good bet?
- In standard blackjack games with multiple decks, insurance is generally considered a bad bet for the player unless they are card counting and know that the proportion of 10-value cards remaining is higher than usual.
- How is “even money” related to insurance?
- If a player has a blackjack and the dealer shows an Ace, the player can opt to take “even money.” This means the player gets a 1:1 payout on their bet immediately, rather than the standard 3:2 for blackjack. Taking even money is equivalent to taking insurance on a blackjack hand.
- Should card counters ever take insurance?
- Some card counters might take insurance if their count indicates that the deck is rich in 10-value cards. However, this requires a deep understanding of the deck’s composition.
- Is insurance offered in all blackjack games?
- While it’s a common option, not all blackjack variations or casinos offer insurance. Always check the specific game rules.
- How is the insurance bet indicated on the table?
- In live casino settings, there’s usually an insurance line on the table where players can place their insurance bet. In online games, there’s typically a button or prompt that appears when insurance is available.
- Does basic strategy recommend taking insurance?
- Basic blackjack strategy typically advises against taking insurance. The odds of the dealer having a blackjack are less than the payout for the insurance bet, making it a losing proposition over time.
- Can players take insurance on split hands?
- Yes, if a player splits their cards and the dealer then shows an Ace, the player can usually take insurance on one or both of the split hands, depending on the casino rules.
- Why do casinos offer insurance if it’s a bad bet?
- The insurance bet increases the casino’s edge when players take it. While it might seem like a way to protect your bets, over the long run, players are likely to lose money on insurance.
Understanding the concept of insurance and its implications is important for any blackjack player. While it might seem tempting as a way to hedge against potential dealer blackjacks, it’s typically advised against in basic blackjack strategy.
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