Insurance Bets in Blackjack

In blackjack, insurance protects you from potential losses and it is a form of risk management.

In blackjack, insurance protects you from potential losses and it is a form of risk management.

Blackjack insurance bets (which are side bets) offer an option of mitigating the risk of losses to the player against the probability of the dealer's hand turning out to be a blackjack.

What Is Insurance In Blackjack

Insurance in blackjack is a side bet that the player can place if the dealer's up-card is an ace. An insurance bet is placed on the assumption that the dealer has a ten-value card, apart from the ace, giving him a blackjack.

Once the cards are dealt, the dealer asks for insurance bets from all players before the first one plays. Now, any player who decides to go for this insurance bet will place chips equal to a maximum of half of his current bet on the 'insurance bar' on the blackjack table.

How does blackjack insurance work?

There are several rules and scenarios associated with insurance betting in blackjack. Here is everything categorized and summed up for ease of understanding.

Blackjack Insurance Rules

Blackjack insurance is a side bet, which players are allowed to take advantage of if the dealer's up card is an ace. Simply put, the player is betting that the dealer will have a blackjack.

The basic rules of blackjack insurance are as follows:

  • Once the cards are dealt, the dealer will say, 'Insurance Open', asking the players to place a side bet if they want to.
  • In case, a player decides to use an insurance bet, he will have to place half of his bet in the insurance spot on the table before the insurance is closed.
  • If the dealer indeed has a blackjack, the player is paid 2:1 on the side bet.
  • If the dealer does not have a blackjack, then the player loses the insurance bet and continues playing with the regular hand dealt.
  • If the player already has a blackjack and wins the insurance bet too, the payout is 3:2.
  • The player can also take even money, implying that he forfeits the 3:2 blackjack bonus. He, will, instead be aiming at winning the original wager back. This means that the player puts up the Insurance and if the dealer hits a Blackjack, he wins on the Insurance. If the dealer does not have a Blackjack, the player loses the amount of the Side Bet but gets compensation when they are paid 3-2 for the Blackjack.

While playing blackjack online, players must keep an eye on the pop-up notification asking for a confirmation or denial of the insurance bet.

Blackjack Insurance Odds

The blackjack insurance probability of the dealer making blackjack in a regular game is 9:4.

The exact odds of winning an insurance bet for the player are not the same and vary depending on the number of decks and the number of ten-point cards already dealt in the game.

Generally, the odds are against the player unless he is proficient in card counting and is able to apply the basic blackjack strategy perfectly well.

In fact, insurance is often called a "suckers bet" as it is very much in favor of the house.

Blackjack Insurance Price

If the player wins, that is the dealer's face-down card turns out to be a 10, then the blackjack insurance payout is 1:1 or a percentage equal to the wager.

In a situation where the player's hand turns out to be blackjack, he is paid at 3:2, that is, three dollars for every two bet or one-and-a-half times the wager.

House Edge

The house edge on paying insurance in blackjack is about 5.8% when a single deck of cards is used. But, modern blackjack is played with 6-8 decks of cards and in such scenarios, the house edge can go as high as 7.5% for a single round of the game.

When To Use Blackjack Insurance

Many blackjack players are willing to place side bets but are not sure of when to buy insurance to be on the profitable side.

Now, the most obvious situation when a player can think of placing an insurance bet is when they already have a blackjack and want to ensure the profit from it. If they are successfully able to protect their hand from a probable blackjack in the dealer's hand, they will get paid out 3:2, which is quite huge though rare.

Another instance that can justify taking the advantage of a side bet is when the player has placed a large bet and is about to hit a target and achieve goals by taking even money.

However, insurance bets, even in somewhat favorable situations, should be placed by advanced card counters who are able to keep track of the number of ten-point cards left in the deck. Therefore, in order to make insurance betting work, one needs to master the basic blackjack strategy.

blackjack insurance odds are against players!
Blackjack players, over the long run, are better off not taking insurance!

Pros & Cons of Insurance Betting

The main benefits of using insurance bets at a blackjack table include:

  • Insurance betting is profitable for card counters who can keep a rough track of the ten-point cards left in a deck.
  • An insurance bet payout is 3:2 when the player already has a blackjack in hand.
  • Insurance bets are sometimes profitable when a large bet is placed and the player is about to hit a target.

And here are the common downsides of insurance bets:

  • Insurance betting, especially when placed in a blackjack game played with 6-8 decks, increases the house edge to at least 7%.
  • For a player to win an insurance bet, the dealer must have a ten or a picture card and the probability of the same is just 30%.
  • The odds are almost always against the player when he places an insurance bet.

Insurance Bet FAQ

Here are a few common questions about insurance betting answered.

What is the best insurance betting system in Blackjack?

There is no best insurance betting system in blackjack as such. However, in a blackjack game of multiple decks, there are more 10-value cards, which makes it a welcome option for the players to place insurance bets.

Why are always insurance bets discouraged?

Insurance bets are mostly discouraged because, considering all the odds, the dealer is likely to have blackjack less than one-third of the time. While the player can hit a wager once in a while, there is a very high chance of losing money on these bets in the long run.

Is blackjack insurance increasing the house edge?

Insurance bet increases the house edge percentage. This is because with the addition of each deck, the probability of winning for the player decreases. In a one-deck game, each player has to play against a house edge of 5.88% and this percentage goes up to 7.39% and 7.47% for a six-deck and eight-deck game respectively.

What does insurance do in Blackjack?

An insurance bet, in blackjack, gives the players an opportunity to either be assured of their win, in case they already have a blackjack or prevent incurring losses in situations where the dealer probably has a blackjack. The odds of winning with an insurance bet are less but the payout is high when a player wins.

What is a good blackjack insurance strategy?

A good blackjack insurance strategy is when the player already has a blackjack and is quite sure (by applying the card counting strategy) of the dealer having a ten-point card too. If he is able to protect his hand from a probable blackjack in the dealer's hand, he gets a payout of 3:2.

Does insurance ever make sense in Blackjack?

Yes, insurance betting does make sense for professional gamblers who are also good at card counting. Since blackjack is a game of probability, insurance betting is often preferred by players even with its high percentage of the house edge.

So, blackjack insurance betting is all about taking a chance. But it is always advisable to place insurance bets only when the probability of winning is well-calculated and significantly high. Historically, this has been the case mostly for great card counters.