What Does Blackjack Insurance Mean?
In this article, we'll explain how insurance in blackjack works. We'll let you know the right time to use insurance for blackjack and outline some of the advantages and disadvantages. We'll also explain how to calculate the odds for an insurance bet and give you some advice about whether players need insurance betting. Finally, we'll let you know about different versions of blackjack where insurance is available. Let's begin...
What is Blackjack insurance?
Blackjack insurance is a side bet that players are offered to protect themselves against the dealer having blackjack. While it may sound like it's protecting you, it's actually just another form of wager. You need to stake half of your bet, and if the dealer has blackjack, your wager wins. The odds for the wager are 2:1.
The only time to play the insurance is if the dealer’s up-card is an Ace card, or if you have a hand of 15 or over. You want to be fairly confident the dealer's second card is going to give them blackjack before taking out the insurance.
It potentially gives a player the chance to break even. So even if the dealer has blackjack, it means they won't lose all their main bet.
Examples of Blackjack insurance
Here are some examples of how insurance bets work in different scenarios:
- You find an online casino you want to play, visit the blackjack table and place your initial bet for $10
- The dealer deals you a 9 and a Queen
- The dealer's upcard is an Ace
- You decide to take out insurance for an extra $5
- The dealer's hole card is a 10-point card - they get Blackjack!
- Your blackjack insurance bet pays off, and you break even, making a total of $15.
- You're ready to play blackjack and place your bet for $10
- You're dealt an initial hand of 8 and a 10
- The dealer's up card is an Ace
- You choose to take out blackjack insurance for an extra $5
- The dealer deals their second card, and it's only a 3
- You lose your insurance bet, but you keep playing the game to see if the dealer can beat your hand of 18.
- The Right Time to Use Insurance
The best time for taking blackjack insurance is when the dealer has an upcard that's an Ace, and you have a hand of 15 or over. With this basic blackjack strategy, even if you lose the insurance bet, you still have a chance to win the round.
When an insurance bet in blackjack is offered
A blackjack insurance bet is offered after the dealer reveals their up-card. But before they check their second card (known as the 'hole card'). It pays out if the hole card has a value of 10, giving the dealer blackjack.
Statistically, most players end up losing money when taking insurance over the long term. So unless you're confident of winning the insurance bet, it's probably a bad bet.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Blackjack Insurance
Here are some pros and cons to help you decide if taking insurance in blackjack is a good bet:
💚 Protection: You're getting a form of protection against your original bet to help cover your losses if the dealer gets blackjack.
💔 Higher house edge: When a casino offers insurance, it increases its overall house edge. So you're effectively giving the house advantage an extra boost.
💔 Takes the focus off basic strategy: Insurance can be a distraction against using strategy to play. By focusing on your own hand, you're more likely to win in the long run, rather than worrying about the dealer's ace.
💔 Negative expected value: The odds of the dealer having blackjack are less than the odds of them not having blackjack. So if you take insurance for every hand you play, you'll end up with a net loss over the long term.
Calculating the odds for Insurance bets
As a general rule, the odds of a dealer making Blackjack when their up-card is an ace is approximately 9 to 4, or roughly 30%.
The odds of winning an insurance bet when playing at a blackjack table are also determined by how many decks you're playing with. And the number of 10-point or picture cards dealt. The rules of each game also affect how likely it is to win your insurance bet.
Blackjack insurance odds
Your payout for an insurance bet is typically 2:1, so if you bet $10 on insurance and the dealer does have blackjack, your payout will be $20. You can work out the expected value of your insurance bet by multiplying how likely it is the dealer will have blackjack by your insurance bet payoff.
In the following example, the expected value of your insurance bet would be negative. This means you're going to lose money over time on wagering an insurance bet.
If you're only playing with one deck, the dealer has a probability of 4.83% of having blackjack. If the insurance payment is 2:1, your expected bet value is -8.75%. So you'll lose 8.75 cents for every dollar you wage on the insurance side bet.
Should Blackjack players get insurance?
Insurance can be an attractive option when the dealer has an ace as their up-card. But, unless you're capable of counting cards, insurance in blackjack is likely to be a losing bet over the long term.
To make these insurance bets worthwhile, you'd need the dealer's hand to have a card with a value of 10 as their hole card to win your bet. With only 16 of those cards available in a single deck, you've only got about a 30% chance of winning.
An expert at card counting may be able to keep track of how many 10 cards are still in the deck. But the average player is unlikely to be able to know whether it's worth it to take insurance.
Overall, we don't believe this insurance is worth it. And we're not the only ones. Experts agree that when casino gambling, the odds aren't worth it. It may be profitable as a one-off strategy at the blackjack table, but it's not going to be a good bet in the long term.
Is Insurance Available in All Versions of Blackjack?
Insurance is a special kind of side bet that is considered a bonus feature at many online casinos. That means it's only available for certain types of blackjack casino games.
When you're playing online, you may only find insurance options for certain types of classic casino games. For example, you may see it when playing a 32Red blackjack game at a big online casino, but it may not be available everywhere.
The most popular versions of blackjack where you can access insurance are those that use six or eight decks, instead of just one. So if you want to buy insurance when playing blackjack, keep your eye out for this style of game.
It's not always as common to find an insurance side bet in blackjack versions that only use a single deck of cards. As it reduces the chances the dealer will have blackjack.
Other Blackjack Guides
If you're interested in finding out more about blackjack, check out our other guides:
- Basic Rules & Strategy Guide
- Blackjack Card Counting
- Blackjack Surrender
- Atlantic City Blackjack
- Vegas Strip Blackjack
Blackjack Insurance - Summary
Although you may be tempted to take out insurance in blackjack, we suggest you reconsider and look at other ways to boost your chances of winning. While a 30% shot of the dealer getting blackjack may sound like a good bet, taking insurance doesn't always help secure your original wager.
If you're playing with several players, with a ten or picture card already on the table, the chances of the dealer having blackjack drop. And so does the need for insurance. So you can use your money to win at other online games.
We recommend looking at how you can improve your basic strategy when playing blackjack. Try playing some free online games if you're new to the game. If you want to play a live dealer game or start betting with real money, make sure you check how many decks are being used. And the exact odds on offer. The more decks involved, the higher the chance of losing your insurance bet.
- SFGate. 'Blackjack insurance: Odds say it is almost always a bad bet', https://www.sfgate.com/entertainment/gaming/article/Blackjack-insurance-Odds-say-it-s-almost-always-5579474.php
Senior Content Editor
Noah is the senior content editor at CasinoCrawlers and a writer with many iGaming articles under his portfolio. Therefore, he is skilled at writing bonus guidelines, gambling strategies, and casino reviews. During his spare time, he enjoys playing Call of Duty and is a huge rugby fan.Read more about the author