When you hear the word insurance, you might automatically think about peace of mind and financial coverage when something unfortunate happens. In the case of blackjack, insurance isn’t always a player’s best friend.

In fact, it is one of the most disputed bets in the gambling world. Here’s why.

How the Insurance Bet Works

When you play blackjack there will be a point in time when the dealer will show an Ace before their hole card is displayed. At this point, you can choose to take a side bet known as ‘insurance’.

This insurance bet is half of your original bet and independent of the initial wager. Assuming the dealer holds a blackjack, you would win 2 to 1.

To illustrate how insurance works, let’s say you make a $20 wager. The dealer shows an Ace and you accept the insurance bet by making another wager of $10. The dealers’ hole card is turned over and reveals a Jack. Blackjack. You now win $10 on your insurance bet, but lose $20 because the dealer had a Blackjack.

What this means is that your bet was a push. At this point you might be thinking that this bet is smart and wondering why it’s not included in the best blackjack strategies.

Why the Bet Isn’t a Good Deal

Consider the odds against the dealer having a natural blackjack when they hold an Ace. The odds are 9:4.

If that doesn’t mean much, let us elaborate.

Say you make $10 insurance bets 130 times. Based on the odds, you’d win on the insurance bet 40 times and giving you a winning total of $800 ($20 in winnings x 40 total insurance bets).

The remaining 90 insurance bets would accumulate to $900 in losses ($10 in losses x 90 insurance bets). You are $100 in the hole.

See why insurance isn’t such a good move now?

Insuring Your Own Blackjack

You can place insurance on your own blackjack too. This is an even money bet but again, it’s not a favourable one.

Professional blackjack player John Grochowski says that players will always win less than they should with insurance. For instance, when you have a blackjack, there are four possibilities to the situation:

  1. You and the dealer have a blackjack or a tie. You get back your original $10 and collect the $10 from the insurance bet. You profit $10.
  2. The dealer doesn’t have a blackjack and you win $15, but lose the insurance bet with a total profit of $10. In both scenarios you win back your initial wager.
  3. You don’t take insurance, you both have a blackjack, resulting in a push.
  4. You don’t take insurance, the dealer doesn’t have a blackjack, and you win $15.

Final Thoughts

The only time insurance bets are worth taking is when you are an expert card counter because you will have a good idea of how many cards valued at 10 are remaining in the decks. So, if you’re not a card playing pro, stay away from insurance bets.