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Gary McLellan

Blackjack insurance is a side bet that players can make when the dealer’s face-up card is an Ace. This optional bet is offered under the condition that the dealer’s facedown card, or ‘hole card’, gives them a blackjack, which is a hand with a total value of 21 from the initial two cards.

Insurance bets usually pay out at 2:1 odds, appearing attractive as they aim to protect the player’s initial wager against a dealer blackjack.

The mechanism of blackjack insurance is fairly straightforward. When the dealer reveals an Ace, they will prompt players to decide if they wish to take insurance before checking their hole card.

If a player opts in, they must place an additional bet worth half of their original wager on the insurance line.

If the dealer does indeed have a blackjack, the player’s insurance bet wins, and they break even on the hand. If the dealer does not have a blackjack, the player loses the insurance bet and the game continues with the original wager still in play.

Understanding the concept of blackjack insurance is important for any player aiming to employ a sound blackjack strategy. This is because while the bet can seem like a wise precautionary measure, the odds may not always be favorable.

Blackjack experts often calculate the probabilities and suggest that in the long term, taking insurance could be more costly than beneficial. Therefore, knowing when to consider insurance can be as crucial as mastering basic blackjack strategy.

The Basics of Blackjack Insurance

In blackjack, when a dealer shows an ace, players have the option to take insurance before the dealer checks for blackjack.

What Is Insurance in Blackjack?

Insurance in blackjack is a side bet that players can make when the dealer’s upcard is an ace. This bet is designed to protect the player against the possibility that the dealer has a blackjack.

If the dealer or online dealer you are playing at a Bitcoin casino does have a blackjack, the insurance bet pays out at 2:1 odds.

How Insurance Bets Work

When a dealer shows an ace, they will offer insurance to the players. Players can bet up to half of their original wager on the insurance line.

The dealer then checks their hole card; if they have a blackjack, players who took insurance will receive a payout at 2:1. If the dealer does not have a blackjack, the insurance bet is lost and the game proceeds as normal.

Here’s a quick breakdown of the insurance bet process:

  1. Dealer shows an ace.
  2. Insurance offer is made.
  3. Player decides to take insurance and places a bet (up to half of their original bet).
  4. Dealer checks for blackjack:
    • If blackjack: Insurance bets are paid at 2:1.
    • If no blackjack: Insurance bets are forfeited.

Strategic Implications

When considering the strategic implications of blackjack insurance, one must understand the insurance bet odds and how basic blackjack strategy advises on insurance.

Insurance Bet Odds

The insurance bet is offered when the dealer’s up card is an ace, providing the player a chance to protect their hand against a dealer blackjack.

This side bet costs half the original bet and pays 2:1. However, the odds of the dealer having a blackjack, that is, a 10-value card as the hole card, are approximately 9:4.

This translates to a probability of around 30.8%, making the insurance bet a poor long-term wager for the player. Statistically, for every $100 spent on insurance bets, one can expect to lose $7.40 on average, given that the game uses multiple decks.

Dealer’s Hole Card Odds
10, J, Q, K 9:4
Any Other Card 2:1

Basic Strategy and Insurance

The basic strategy in blackjack is a set of guidelines compiled from computer simulations that give the player the best move based on their hand and the dealer’s upcard.

According to the basic strategy, purchasing insurance is generally not recommended for players, as it is a bet with a negative expectation. Players, especially those not counting cards, should avoid taking insurance because it typically results in a higher house edge.

Card counters who can keep track of the number of 10-value cards remaining in the shoe may be able to make a more informed decision when offered insurance, but for the majority of players, the mathematically optimal choice is to decline this side bet.

  • Insurance Bet with Basic Strategy:
    • Recommended: No, except for card counters.
    • House Edge Increase: Yes.
    • Long-term Profitability: Negatively impacted.

Insurance Bet Considerations

When playing blackjack at a crypto site or live, players must consider the insurance bet as a part of their overall strategy, especially about their bankroll and the table conditions.

Bankroll Management

Bankroll management is vital when deciding whether to take insurance. Players should assess:

  • Risk Tolerance: Players with a smaller bankroll or lower risk tolerance might find insurance appealing as a way to protect their investment against a dealer’s blackjack.
  • Mathematics of Insurance: Considering insurance as a separate bet with its house edge, one should calculate whether the odds justify the potential outlay of funds relative to the bankroll.

Table Conditions and Insurance

Understanding the table conditions can help inform a player’s decision on insurance:

  1. Number of Decks: Insurance becomes more or less appealing depending on the number of decks in use. With fewer decks, players can more accurately predict the likelihood of a dealer having blackjack.
  2. Dealer’s Up Card: If the dealer shows an ace and the player’s calculations or strategy suggest a high number of 10-value cards remain, contemplating insurance might be reasonable.

Columns representing incentives and deterrents to taking insurance based on table conditions:

Condition Incentive for Insurance Deterrent for Insurance
Fewer Decks Easier card counting Higher relative cost
Dealer Ace High 10-value card concentration Low 10-value card concentration
Player Hand Value High-value hand (e.g., 20) Low-value hand (e.g., 8 or 9)

In considering the insurance bet, players should not only look at their hand but also weigh the table dynamics and remaining cards in the deck.

Insurance in Different Blackjack Variants

Insurance is a side bet offered when the dealer shows an Ace, providing a hedge against the dealer having blackjack. It is present in various forms across different blackjack variants, each with its own specific rules.

Classic Blackjack Insurance

In classic blackjack, insurance is offered when the dealer’s upcard is an Ace. The insurance bet costs half of the original bet and pays 2:1 if the dealer has blackjack. If the dealer does not have blackjack, the player loses the insurance bet.

  • Cost: 50% of original bet
  • Payout: 2:1

European Blackjack Insurance

European blackjack often includes the insurance bet but differs from classic blackjack in when it is offered. Insurance becomes available only after the dealer checks for blackjack if the dealer has an Ace showing.

  • Offered: After dealer checks for blackjack
  • Cost: 50% of original bet
  • Payout: 2:1

Common Misconceptions

In exploring the strategic facet of blackjack, players often encounter myths concerning the use of insurance. Understanding these misconceptions is essential for making informed decisions at the table.

Insurance as a Safe Bet

Many players perceive insurance as a protective measure that can safeguard their main bet. However, insurance is a side bet where a player bets that the dealer’s hole card will be a ten-value card, completing a blackjack.

It should not be considered inherently safe; rather, it is a bet with its risks. Statistically:

  • The odds of the dealer having a blackjack, when showing an Ace, are roughly 9:4 against the player.
  • Insurance bets pay 2:1, which does not correspond to the true odds of the dealer’s hole card being a ten-value card.

Insurance Correlation with Winning

Contrary to what some players might think, taking insurance does not correlate with the likelihood of winning the initial wager.

Insurance is a separate bet with its odds, and its outcome is independent of the player’s main hand. The realities are presented in the table below:

Situation Main Hand Outcome Insurance Outcome
Dealer has blackjack; the player takes insurance. Player loses the main hand. Player wins the insurance bet.
Dealer does not have a blackjack; the player takes insurance. Main hand outcome is unaffected. Player loses the insurance bet.

Players must assess the value of the insurance bet as a standalone decision, not as a component of their original hand’s strategy.


In blackjack, the decision to take insurance should be carefully considered, as it is a separate side bet with its risks and not a protective measure for the main hand.

While it may appear appealing, especially for players concerned about a dealer’s blackjack, insurance typically offers unfavorable odds for the player.

Basic blackjack strategy, largely based on mathematical calculations, advises against it for most players, particularly those not skilled in card counting. The insurance bet generally increases the house edge and diminishes long-term profitability.

However, for card counters who can gauge the composition of the remaining cards in the deck, there may be situations where insurance could be advantageous.

Ultimately, players should weigh this decision against their individual risk tolerance, bankroll size, and the specific conditions of the game, understanding that insurance is not always the optimal strategic choice in blackjack.

Gary McLellan

Gary McLellan has been involved in the gambling sector for years after studying Journalism in Glasgow. Starting out with running a poker blog over 10 years ago, he has since worked with many betting publications, focusing on crypto-related sites more recently due to their growing popularity. Gary brings his expertise on gambling to BitcoinCasinos.com since 2022 after successfully overseeing the launch of several sports betting sites including legalsportsbooks.com.