Insurance with Blackjack

Online blackjack has become one of the most played games worldwide, with many game variations. Each variation will have different rules. Hence, the best way to learn how to play blackjack is to access free games online.

Players use side bets as part of their basic strategy when playing blackjack. One of these side bets, the insurance bet, allows players to insure against their original wagers. However, playing with the insurance bet requires strategy and a sufficient bankroll, which can negatively impact the house edge.

Here, we will discuss the insurance bet and provide helpful information when playing for real money wagers. While most players refrain from taking insurance this way, you’ll learn when to use it and when not to. With that in mind, let’s see how the insurance bet works.

By Amelia Smith - Updated 31/10/2023 - Estimated reading time: 8 minutes.

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Insurance with Blackjack

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How insurance in Blackjack works

When you play blackjack, you will often notice you have the ability to place an insurance bet. This blackjack insurance is a side bet offered when the dealer’s upcard is an Ace.

Blackjack variants, including the live blackjack tables, have different rules. You should be aware of these before you take a seat and place your first wager. However, the blackjack insurance bets are often the same across all variants.

With insurance, you will bet half of the original wager amount, and the bet will pay 2:1. Should the dealer show a ten card and make blackjack, you will get paid for this insurance bet.

Players place this side bet if they think a dealer has blackjack. There is no way of predicting that except for experts at counting cards. Even that still leaves uncertainty as to the dealer’s next hand.

Blackjack insurance bets allow you to get back a part of your bet if the dealer’s hand is a blackjack. They add to the original wager as you play.

Let's say you place a $20 bet at the table and choose to take the insurance bet. This will cost you an additional $10. If the dealer’s hand is a blackjack, you will lose the original bet but win the side bet.

The payout from the above example will be $20. That makes taking insurance in blackjack look like a basic strategy to recoup when you lose money. However, there is a good reason why most players will skip the insurance side bet after seeing the dealer’s ace.

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What happens when you win or lose a Blackjack insurance side bet?

The primary aim of blackjack is to have a higher hand than the dealer without exceeding 21. This value can be called a blackjack when it contains an ace and a “10” card.

Once all the players have placed their bets, the dealer will reveal the second card. If the dealer’s second card is not a "10," you will lose the insurance bet, and the game continues. The game will fall back on the original wagers as you push for a higher hand.

If the dealer’s hole card is a "10," the dealer will settle all the insurance bets on the table.

Blackjack insurance

The option to use insurance in online blackjack at NeonVegas casino.

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How Blackjack insurance bets affect the house edge

The house edge is one of the primary reasons most players skip the opportunity to insure their initial bet amounts. While addressing this, you must ask yourself, “What are the odds of a dealer blackjack after seeing the ace in the dealer’s upcard?”

Many online casinos have a house advantage below 1% on the blackjack table. However, that value increases to 5.8% when playing blackjack with insurance bets on a single-deck table. The figure increases to 7.5% on an 8-deck game.

The dealer’s blackjack depends on the second card. That sounds simple enough, but the probability of the dealer picking a “10” card is about 30%. The value aligns with other bets with 2 to 1 odds with a 33.33% probability.

With such a probability and house advantage, most players expect to lose money in the long run. Hence, they avoid the insurance wager.

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When you should take insurance

While the insurance bet can recoup a would-be loss, it is a side bet that most will advise you to avoid. It is considered a sucker bet and will cost you more in the long run than you will make.

The odds are against you with this bet. Regarding the dealer getting a blackjack, their odds are 9:4. Hence, you will lose about half of the insurance bets you place on average.

There is no need to take insurance on a computer-controlled blackjack table. You can’t tell which cards are left on the table. Even if you do, the probability of the dealer getting a blackjack is slim.

We also recommend against using the blackjack insurance bet if you are the only player. You’ll have a slight chance to predict what the dealer shows on the next hand.

There is an exception to this, which will apply when you play live dealer blackjack online. That offers the opportunity to count cards. Even so, many players lose money with this strategy.

Unless you are an expert at counting cards, stick to your initial bet. As a card counter, you will better understand how many ten-valued cards remain in the deck. That lets you quickly determine the dealer's odds of getting a blackjack.

The insurance bet can sometimes be profitable, but the only time that happens is when playing live games. Even with counting cards, you’ll need a basic strategy to keep up when betting.

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Insurance bet odds

When taking the insurance bet with blackjack, the odds will all be based on how many decks are used in the game. It will also depend on the number of “ten” cards that remain in those decks. A true count can determine that number, but we will leave that to the experts.

Unless you have mastered card counting, the insurance bet is one you should avoid. As a regular blackjack player, the odds are against you when you choose to take the insurance bet. This is even more of a problem if you have chosen to play a game that uses many decks.

The decks are shuffled before every hand when playing online. Hence, the insurance bet will deplete your bankroll instead of offering profits if more decks are in play. Your odds of winning with the insurance bet will be lower.

This lower odds is why most refer to it as a sucker bet and always avoid it when offered at the tables. Stick to the basic blackjack strategy and avoid insurance bets in blackjack. You will have good chances of winning and earning great payouts from this classic casino game.

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Winning strategies with the insurance bet

The insurance bet does not guarantee a win to recoup your loss. However, like other side bets, it can boost your bankroll if won.

After learning to play and picking up some tips and strategies, you can enjoy this game for real money payouts at many sites. Here are a few strategies to boost your winning chances with the blackjack insurance side bet:

Pick a good casino

We have a few recommended online casinos for blackjack. These betting sites have been vetted. They have verifiable licenses, offer spicy bonuses, and feature exciting variants for blackjack insurance bets.

Play a known Blackjack variant

Most online casinos feature several blackjack variants. If you are new to the game, pick one variant and practice with it till you have mastered the rules. Returning players should focus on the variants they are good at.

Play live casino blackjack

Our recommended casinos feature live dealer blackjack. Playing this variant allows you to test your card counting skills. You’ll have a better chance than average players, who do not know how to count cards after their initial wager.

Manage your bankroll

The blackjack insurance bet will be half of your initially wagered amount. Hence, you should use efficient bankroll management techniques, like setting budgets and limits. The original bet should take a little from your bankroll.

You’ll have more chances to win with more money to bet.

Practice card counting with a free version

This technique is the most efficient approach to win a blackjack insurance bet. Learning the skill will take a while, but you will be glad you did. Practice with the free version.

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Final thoughts on Blackjack insurance bets

We don’t recommend blackjack insurance bets. The odds of winning are small, and the house edge increases when you add them to the original bet. Hence, it can be unprofitable in the long run.

You can use other side bets with better odds and a lower house advantage. The better bet is the one you are familiar with, and the odds are good. Check out our recommended New Zealand casinos to enjoy blackjack.

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Frequently Asked Questions about the Blackjack Insurance Bet

When can I place an insurance bet?

You can only place the blackjack insurance bet when the dealer has an ace. If you have multiple hands with the ace showing, the rules allow you to place an insurance bet on each.

What happens to my insurance bet if the hole card is an ace?

You will lose the insurance bet if the hole card is an ace. If you have a higher hand in your main bet, the game will end in favor of your main bet.

When is it ideal to take insurance on my initial bet?

You shouldn’t take insurance when the dealer has an ace alone. Instead, do that if you’ve counted the remaining cards and know your winning chances are high.

Are insurance bets good in the long run?

Even expert card counters know when not to take insurance bets. The option is unprofitable in the long run because of the lower RTPs.

Author: Amelia Smith

Amelia Smith

Amelia Smith knows a lot about different areas of gambling. She's been our main writer for most things since 2019. She spoke at a big conference in London in 2022 and has been recognized at several industry events.

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Article published 08/10/2021

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