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Insurance Concept in Blackjack

‘Insurance’ is an interesting option that can be availed by the Blackjack players in the event that the dealer receives an ace as his/her up card. You can take insurance prior to the dealer checking the hole card. It’s a kind of side bet, treated separately from the main wager and a bet on the possibility of the dealer getting a Blackjack. The payout in case of insurance is 2:1, implying that the player gets £ 2 in return for every £ 1 bet placed by him/her. In addition, as mentioned above, the insurance is usually only available in the event that the dealer’s exposed card turns out to be an ace.

The whole idea behind insurance is that there’s a fairly high chance (almost one third) of the dealer’s second card turning out to be a ten-valued card, resulting in a Blackjack. It’s normally recommended, although not mandatory, for a player to insure his/her interest against such probability by placing a maximum insurance bet. By doing so, the player can recover the resulting loss, suffered on the original wager. A player can opt for insurance by adding anywhere up to half of the value of his/her original wager to the insurance. The extra chips added are placed in a certain section of the table that’s specifically marked ‘Insurance pays 2:1.’

The insurance option is also available to players having a Blackjack. They can commit themselves to receiving an amount equal to the main bet amount by opting for maximum insurance, receivable regardless of the outcome of the dealer’s cards. Such practice of comprehensively insuring one’s Blackjack against the Blackjack of the dealer is termed as ‘Taking even money.’ The proceeds are paid out right away, even before the dealer’s hand gets resolved. There’s no need for such players to place any more chips for making an insurance bet.

The general observation is that insurance bets normally lose money in the long run since the likelihood of a dealer getting a Blackjack is lesser than one third. Nevertheless, the outcome of insurance is absolutely anti-correlated to that of the main bet. The player may choose to pay for such insurance bet if variation-reduction is his/her main priority.

Furthermore, insurance bets are vulnerable to ‘advantage play.’ It’s always beneficial to opt for an insurance bet in case the hole card has a very good chance (more than one third) of turning out to be a 10. Players often use certain advantage play techniques to identify such possibilities with great effectiveness. To give you an example, in case of a single deck, face up and multi hand Blackjack game, you can possibly establish whether it’ll be wise to place an insurance bet or not by simply observing the other face up cards on the table after they’re dealt. Even if you see couple of players’ exposed hands, and neither of them being a 10, there’s a 16 in 47 possibility of the remaining cards turning out to be tens (which is greater than 1 in 3); hence, placing an insurance bet may be a good idea in this scenario. This is a very basic example of the various advantage play techniques adopted by players who are efficient at card counting.

Generally speaking, bets insuring against the possibility of a Blackjack are less advantageous compared to the insurance bets. This is because a 10 in a player’s Blackjack decreases the likelihood of the dealer getting a Blackjack too.