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Blackjack Insurance

At a blackjack table, there is perhaps no bigger argument than whether the player should buy blackjack insurance against a blackjack. When the dealer turns an Ace as the upcard, the dealer will ask the players if they would like to “insure” their hands. If the player accepts the bet, the player puts up one-half of his original bet, and if the insurance wager wins (meaning the dealer has blackjack), it pays off at two-to-one odds. Blackjack insurance must be taken before any action is taken on any players’ hand.

For instance, when the player is dealt, a Ten and an Ace, and the dealer has an Ace showing, most players have a great tendency to “protect” that hand by buying blackjack insurance. Since a blackjack is a bonus hand which pay 1.5:1 or 2:3 odds and the dealer doesn’t deal out too many blackjacks, most players feel they need to get something from the hand. If the dealer has a blackjack and the player doesn’t buy blackjack insurance the player gets nothing because the hand is a push.

By taking the blackjack insurance, most players logically reason that they will always end up with a profit. Although this is logical thinking it is also flawed logic. In a deck of 52-cards, there are 16 cards with a value of ten, and 36 cards with a value other than ten, giving us a ratio of 2.25 to one. When you are faced with the situation in where the player has a blackjack and the dealer showing an ace, that leaves 15 cards valued at ten and 34 cards with a value other than 10 remaining in the deck, which gives us a ratio of 2.27 to one. With blackjack insurance paying only two-to-one, you’re getting the worst of it on that basis alone.

There are four different results that can occur when you are dealt a blackjack and the dealer has an Ace showing. Let us assume you are playing a $20 bet: In the first two results, the player wins $20. If the player bets $20 and insures for $10, he’ll push the original bet and win $20 on the insurance bet. If the dealer doesn’t have blackjack, the player wins $30 from the original bet, but loses the $10 insurance bet, leaving a $20 profit.

In the third result, you have not bought blackjack insurance, and tied the dealer with your blackjack. You keep you $20 bet, giving you a net gain of zero. In scenario four, you beat the dealer with your blackjack, giving you a gain of $30 on the hand. In three situations, you make money, while in the remaining one, you win nothing.

When you have a blackjack and the dealer shows an Ace, theoretically, there are 15 Tens and 34 non-Tens left in the deck, making a total of 49 remaining cards. Since the dealer has to have a ten in the hole to complete a two-card blackjack, he has to get one of those tens, which can only happen 30.6 percent of the time. Meaning that 69.4 % of the time, the dealer will not have a blackjack. In the example above the second and fourth are going to happen much more often than the first and third result.

In blackjack your most profitable result is the one which occurs the vast majority of the time. Without going into great mathematical detail, by not buying blackjack insurance you are gaining a worthwhile 4.1%.

Basically anyone that is playing a basic strategy should not buy blackjack insurance. Only when card counting is blackjack insurance a worthwhile bet.

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