Blackjack And The Importance of Insurance

January 20th, 2009 12:14 am EST

buying insurance against the dealer in the game of blackjackInsurance in blackjack is offered to players whenever the dealer is showing an Ace. In effect, you are buying insurance against the dealer having blackjack. If the dealer's face up card is an ace, he or she will ask the players if they want insurance. Any player wishing insurance will put up half their bet in the insurance area. If the dealer has blackjack, you get paid twice your insurance bet, but lose the initial bet. In other words, you push. If the dealer doesn't have blackjack, you lose the insurance and play the hand as normal.

The offer usually stays open only for a few seconds. If a player has blackjack, they may be offered, or can ask for, even money. This means they will get a payoff equal to their original bet, but don't make the three to two odds typically offered for blackjack.

Statistically, insurance is never a smart bet. In a full deck of cards, the odds against the dealer making blackjack are nine to four. There are nine cards, the ace and two through nine, which will not give the dealer blackjack. The ten and the three face cards are the only ones that can make blackjack. So you are betting even money on nine to four odds. Over time, you will lose money taking insurance bets.

The fact that you have blackjack doesn't change the odds, yet many people with blackjack will take the even money rather than risk losing with blackjack. Also common, but no better statistically, players with twenty may insure their bets for the same reason.

So the only time when taking insurance would make sense is if the player is counting cards, right? Well, yes and no. If the table is full, you are able to see thirteen cards - two for each player and the dealer's ace. If the game is late in the shoe, and there are few or no tens showing, then the odds are now better than normal of the dealer getting blackjack. On the other hand, if the table is full of tens, then not taking insurance becomes even smarter - even if you have blackjack.