Blackjack, sometimes known as 21, is one of the most popular card games in both real-world and online casinos and involves comparing cards with the dealer. And, although other players may be at the table, the objective is not to beat their hand.
It is to beat the dealer’s hand. The players are said to have won if they end up with a higher total of cards in their hand than the dealer, if the dealer goes bust or if they manage to hit 21 precisely. This hugely popular game has many variants but is especially a hit with people who enjoy using probability and calculations to improve their chances of success.
These days, when you play blackjack, especially online, you will sometimes discover you are given the chance to make an extra “insurance” wager. Blackjack insurance is one of the lesser understood elements of the game and has been hotly debated in certain circles. Some players say insurance in blackjack is not a good idea. However, it’s important to be well-informed about the basic principles of blackjack insurance so you can make your own decision about whether to opt for it. So, here, you can find out more about this additional wager, which is more complex than just another side bet.
What Is Insurance in Blackjack?
Blackjack insurance is basically an additional bet that players can make when their dealer turns an ace as his or her face-up card. In this circumstance, blackjack insurance can be taken at the price of 50 percent of the original wager the dealer will have a face-down card that has a value of 10 to give the dealer a total of 21, or blackjack. The insurance payout will be 2-1, should this prove to be the case. And, although the player would lose the amount he or she originally bet, he or she would instead get a small pay-out because of the insurance. So, although no big money would be won, the punter wouldn’t completely lose out.
How to Use Blackjack Insurance
Let’s use an example to show how blackjack insurance would work. If you place a $4 bet and receive the hand 10-7 when you have your cards dealt to you, while the first card in the dealer’s hand is an ace, you can opt to take out blackjack insurance with the dealer so you don’t lose your money completely. To use the insurance, you need to place a wager of another $2 (representing 50 percent of the original stake) on the dealer’s second card, on the probability it has a value of 10 to give the dealer a total of 21 or blackjack.
If the dealer does, in fact, have 21, you receive three times your insurance bet stake while losing the original one (assuming you hadn’t also hit 21). So, you will receive a total of $6 while also losing $6, i.e., you’d break even. On the other hand, if the dealer does not have 21, and, instead, goes bust, you would be the winner of the hand, so you would lose $2 on the insurance bet you made, but instead, you would win the original wager you placed in the sum of $4. This means you would make a net profit of $2 on the hand.
Should You Go for Blackjack Insurance?
Although many dealers recommend players take out their insurance, it isn’t often a good idea to use it. There is, however, one circumstance in which it could be beneficial to opt for the blackjack insurance policy. This is when the player already has a blackjack in his or her hand. Although this may sound pointless since blackjack is an automatic win, in fact, it makes financial sense.
If the dealer also has blackjack, the player would only receive a payoff that equals his or her bet rather than the normal payout of 3-2. Conversely, if the player chooses to place an insurance bet on the outcome of the hand, he or she will receive a payoff of 2-1 on that bet since, essentially, he or she would be betting the dealer has a blackjack in his or her hand.
Factoring in The Odds
Speaking statistically, it’s usually not in the player’s best interest to use the blackjack insurance option, even if he or she already has 21 in his or her hand. Look at probability, which proves this to be the case. Blackjack insurance would only represent an even bet should the dealer be able to complete a value of 21 a third of the times a hand was played. Since only 30.8 percent of cards make a value of 10 in this game, you will eventually lose money over time should you always choose blackjack insurance; the casino is only paying odds of 2-1 while the event itself has odds of 9-4. Let’s study this more closely:
Let’s say you make an original bet of $20. Then, you see you have a blackjack in your hand and decide you want to use your insurance option. There are two potential outcomes:
1. The dealer does have 21, in which case you will win $20.
2. The dealer doesn’t have 21, and you will win $20.
On the other hand, if you have 21 in your hand and decide not to take the insurance, there are also two potential outcomes:
1. The dealer also has 21, so neither of you wins.
2. The dealer doesn’t have 21, so you win a total of $30.
This means that, while the expected result will always be $20 more if you take the insurance, financially, in the long term, you would be better to not take insurance since if the odds are to be even, your pay-out must match the odds.
You are playing blackjack using 52 cards, with three cards visible (those of the player and the face-up card in the dealer’s hand). This means 49 cards remain unseen. Of those cards, only 15 represent a value of 10. This makes a 70 percent chance of the dealer not having blackjack. This means if a player takes “even money,” he or she will win a single unit ($20 in the above example) every time he or she has 21 in his or her hand whether the dealer also has blackjack.
This adds up to 49 units total. But, should a player refuse the insurance and instead chooses the 50 percent extra he or she could earn should the dealer not have 21 in his or her hand, he or she will win $30 (or 1.5 units) on each of the 34 times the dealer statistically misses. This equals 51 units of cash prizes. This is obviously more than the 49 units from the insurance, and, therefore, insurance represents a poor choice, especially for players who have more cards in their hand with a value of 10.
Why Choose Blackjack Insurance?
Anyone who prefers to take a safe option may opt for blackjack insurance since the player will always win one unit when he or she opts for even money. Card counters, too, also favor blackjack insurance since they can tell for sure whether the dealer has a value of 10 in his or her hole card.