Many gamblers will advise you do not to take insurance bet in Blackjack. Yet, this bet is not there for no reason, right. So, when should you take Blackjack insurance? Today, let’s take a deeper look at what Blackjack insurance is as well as how it differs from the Blackjack even-money payout. Moreover, why you should avoid it if you are a basic strategy player.
What is Blackjack Insurance and how does it work?
When the dealer’s upcard is an Ace, the dealer offers Blackjack players insurance. Your initial bet will be processed independently from this optional side bet. Also, you are staking that the dealer has a ten-value card in the hole next to their Ace (Blackjack) when you buy insurance bet.
Here, you are investing up to half of your initial stake, you can insure any two-card hand against a dealer Blackjack. You need to put your chips for the insured bets in the “Insurance Pays 2 to 1” on the Blackjack table. It is a semi-circular stripe run across the table. When you get insurance, two possibilities might occur.
- To break even for this round, you lose your original stake but win the insurance bet at casino odds of 2 to 1.
- You lose the insurance bet if the dealer does not have a ten-value card in the hole. Then, play on your hand proceeds as usual.
Top Tips: What is buying insurance in Blackjack?
Let’s look at an example of how to buy insurance in Blackjack. The dealer exposes an Ace. So, we presume you wagered $30 on your initial hand, which is not natural. You decide to accept insurance to protect yourself against a potential dealer’s blackjack. Therefore, you place an extra $10 wager on top of your first $30.
It turns out that the dealer’s hole card is a ten-value card, which gives them a blackjack. Therefore, you gain another $30 from your insurance bet after losing the first $30 you put on your hand. You’re at breakeven, meaning you didn’t win or lose money in this round. If you hadn’t insured your hand, you would’ve been $30 down.
Is taking Blackjack insurance bet worth it?
Some players argue in favor of insurance. They believe that if you do not insure your hand, you will lose your initial stake. However, if you accept insurance, you will break even.
What we’re talking about here is “rationalization“.
Casino owners want you to feel that by letting you insure yourself against a possible dealer blackjack, they are doing you a service. Some dealers are even required to advise players about the benefits that you will get when you buy insurance in Blackjack.
Should you take insurance in Blackjack?
The fact is that you are not guaranteeing anything. With this side bet, you’re assuming the dealer has a ten-value card in the hole. This has nothing to do with increasing your initial bet’s chances. Rather, it is lowering your long-term predicted value, and here’s why.
Let’s assume you’re playing a six-deck game with a 216:96 ratio of non-ten cards to ten-value cards. Then, the dealer exposes an Ace at the start of the first round. After reshuffling the six cards, the dealer will offer you insurance. Because one of the Aces has already left the shoe, the ratio of non-ten-value cards to ten-value cards is now 215:96. We are assuming that we don’t take into account the composition of your beginning two-card total.
Given that the dealer’s hole card isn’t going to be a ten-value one 215 times, you’ll lose $215 if you insurance your hand for a dollar 311 times. Your total price is $192 since the dealer has a 10-value card in the hole the other 96 times. Therefore, you will earn 96 * $2 for a total of $192. As a result, $311 worth of insurance side bets results in $215 – $192 = $23 in net losses.
As a result, insurance puts you at a tremendous deficit of (-$23 / $311) * 100 = -7.39 percent. This also implies that the house has a roughly 7.40 percent advantage on this side bet with insurance. So, it is no surprise that dealers advise customers to insure their hands!
Top Tips: Taking Insurance Bet
What if we include your first two cards in the scenario?
Let’s pretend your hand starts with two non-ten-value cards such as 6 and 2. So, you got a hand total of 8 while the dealer’s upcard is an Ace.
In this case, three non-ten cards have already been discarded. And, you are back at a 6-deck Blackjack table, which means the ratio of non-ten-value cards to ten-value cards in the Blackjack shoe is 213:96.
You will lose a dollar 213 times out of 309 times. Then, earn $2 * 96 for a profit of $192 because the shoe now contains just 309 cards. As a result, $309 worth of $1 insurance bets results in $213 – $192 = $21 in net losses.
Unfortunately, you are at a disadvantage of (-$21 / $309) * 100 = -6.80 percent as a result of this. Although the odds have improved slightly, you are still losing a significant amount of money by buying a Blackjack insurance bet.
Some say that you should only insure pat hands such as hard 20 and naturals. Then, deny the insurance when you have terrible hands such as hard 12 or 13.
Top Tips: When to take insurance in Blackjack?
Let’s put this debate to rest with our last scenario, where part of the face cards is taken from the shoe during the first round of play. When you face the dealer’s Ace, you’ll start with a pair of Queens.
Because one of the Aces has been taken, you have 94 ten-value cards and 215 non-ten-value cards left of the 309 cards. Under these circumstances, if you take insurance for $1 309 times, you will lose $215 and win 94 * $2 = $188. After putting $309 worth of $1-dollar insurance bets on a pat 20, your net loss is $27. You’re at a disadvantage of (-$27 / $309) * 100 = -8.73 percent as a result.
Some of the ten-value cards that may assist the dealer to create a blackjack are already out of play. Therefore, ensuring “good” hands is more expensive than insuring “poor” hands. Insurance is a lousy bet. Therefore, you should avoid it at all costs, regardless of how we beat around the bush.
When to take insurance in Blackjack: The Exceptions
If you look attentively at a simple strategy chart, you will almost certainly discover one peculiar feature. Even though insurance is mysteriously lacking from the chart, it has the right plays for splitting and striking against all conceivable dealer cards. What’s the deal?
The reason is simple and clear: an insurance bet is a long-term negative-expectation bet. Therefore, basic strategy players should never accept it.
Besides, the chances of winning with this gamble are far lower than the casino rewards you. Because the insurance bet is subject to advantage-play strategies such as card counting, there are exceptions to all rules, including this one.
To keep track of how many ten-value cards remain in the shoe or deck, card counters also keep track of how many non-ten-value cards are left. This enables them to identify scenarios in which insurance becomes a positive-expectation gamble, which they may then analyze.
If they notice that the remaining ten-value cards are more than the non-ten value cards, card counters are more likely to buy Blackjack insurance bets.
Blackjack Insurance Rules: Additional Exceptions
Think about the following scenario: you’re playing a pitch game with a single deck of 52 cards in total. You glance at your opening hand after the dealer reshuffles and notice that it comprises of two small cards, such as 6-3. It’s also possible that you’ll obtain a look at another player’s hand, which includes two small cards, let’s say 4-5. Then, the dealer’s upcard is an Ace.
When to take insurance in Blackjack?
With having 5 cards with a value other than ten no longer in play, the deck now only has a total of 47 cards. As a result, the dealer’s odds of getting a Blackjack will be 31 to 16. This is because we now have 31 non-10-value cards and 16 ten-value cards. The implied likelihood of you winning your insurance bet is 1 in 47 or a 2.13 percent chance of winning it.
You will lose $31 and win 16 * $2 = $32 after placing $47 bets (of $1 each) worth of insurance. Moreover, you will have a net profit of $1. In addition, the house is at a tiny disadvantage in this situation, which is equivalent to $1/$47 * 100 = 2.13 percent. Under these circumstances, insurance becomes a positive-expectation gamble.
The Even-Money Payout: When to buy insurance Blackjack?
When players get a Blackjack and the dealer exposes an Ace, the even-money payoff is provided. When this happens, most newbie players get perplexed and frequently seek help from fellow gamblers or dealers.
Should they accept or deny the even-money payout?
Of course, the dealer would always advise them to accept even money. This is because they would not lose anything during this round if they accepted even money.
This is a piece of poor advice that you should never follow.
Here’s the thing: barring a few minor adjustments, the even-money payment is virtually the same as insurance.
The first distinction is that this is only a possibility if the player has a Blackjack and the dealer has an Ace on the table. If you take the even money, the dealer will pay you out before peeking beneath their hole card for a blackjack. This is in contrast to winning insurance bets, which payouts after the peek.
Insurance in disguise is the Even-Money Payout.
Even-money payout and insurance bet are the two sides of the same coin. Let’s look at a few instances to see why.
- You guarantee your Blackjack for $10 in the first scenario, but the dealer also has a natural Blackjack. Therefore, the two Blackjacks will become a push, then you gain $20 in net profits.
- In the second scenario, you decide to accept insurance once more. However, the dealer does not have a Blackjack in this case. Although your $10 insurance bet is lost, your Blackjack wins you $30, this is 1.5 times your initial $20 wager. Therefore, you will earn a $20 net profit.
- The third scenario in which you may find yourself is when you refuse insurance but the dealer has a natural Blackjack. You neither lose nor win anything when the two blackjacks become a push again.
- Finally, suppose you refuse to buy insurance since the dealer doesn’t have a ten-value card in the hole. In this example, you receive $30 in net earnings in addition to your initial $20 investment. As a result, whether or not the dealer has a natural, if you always accept insurance on your Blackjacks, you will win even money.
Should you buy Blackjack insurance or take the even-money payout?
Casinos just save you the effort of guaranteeing your hand by providing you even money before the dealer peeks for a Blackjack. In addition, accepting even money payout is a decent option for inexperienced players. Because if they reject and the dealer also has a Blackjack, the two naturals will become a push, meaning they will not get any payment.
They appear to assume that a one-base-bet unit profit is preferable to no profit at all. However, if they decline the even-money payout (or insurance) and the dealer does not have a ten-value card in the hole, they will miss out on a lucrative opportunity to earn 1.5 times their initial wager.
During a six-deck game against a dealer’s Ace, the dealer’s hole card will be a ten-value one 95 times out of 309 times. This will result in an implied chance of 95 / 309 * 100 = 30.7 percent. Thus, when you insure your hand, you know that you’ll win even money 30.7 percent of the time.
If you refuse insurance, your Blackjack will push with the dealer’s 30.7 percent of the time, resulting in neither a win nor a loss. On the other hand, you have a higher chance of winning 1.5 times your initial wager the remaining 69.3 percent of the time.
As a result, refusing the even-money payoff has a larger chance of you earning 1.5 times your wager than pushing with the dealer. More so, every time you decline the even-money payout, you earn $1.03 for every dollar you are betting on average. This profit comes from the equation: 1.5 * 69.3% = $1.03.
Finally, basic strategy players should never guarantee their hands or accept even-money natural payouts. Playing Blackjack is hard enough to beat without players putting money back into the casino’s coffers.
What are the insurance bet odds?
The dealer’s odds of making Blackjack are 9 to 4 on average.
The odds can be stacked against players. However, those with basic strategy and card counting skills may be able to keep track of the odds. In addition, they can also determine when the conditions are favorable for a lucrative insurance bet.
Do you want to gain a feel for the odds? Or, you want to learn how to make insurance bets when playing online Blackjack in Singapore? If so, we recommend playing a few games of free Blackjack.
It’s also vital to consider the number of decks while playing with real money blackjack at a live casino. The larger the number of decks, the more likely you are to lose your insurance bet.