An insurance bet is a special type of wager in blackjack, in which a player bets on the dealer getting a natural blackjack. It is separate from your main wager and can only be made in cases when the dealer’s face-up card is an ace. In most cases, the insurance will cost the player half their original bet.
Odds and Payouts
With a fresh deck, the odds of a player winning the insurance bet are slightly below 1/3, as it can only occur if the dealer’s second card is a 10 or one of the face cards.
The payout an insured player receives in the case of a dealer blackjack is 2:1.
Blackjack Insurance Scenarios
Now let’s take a look at the possible scenarios that can play out if a player decides to make an insurance bet. For the sake of mathematical convenience, we will say that the wager is $10 and the insurance is $5.
The dealer does not get a natural blackjack and you win: You will win your original bet (+$10), but you will lose your insurance bet (-$5). Net winnings/losses: +$5. In this scenario, taking the insurance halved your winnings.
The dealer does not get a natural blackjack and you lose: You will lose your original bet (-10) and your insurance bet (-$5). Net winnings/losses: -$15. In this scenario, you will lose 1.5x your original bet.
Should You Take Insurance When Playing Blackjack?
Every player will answer this question differently. Let’s take a look at the facts:
- Insurance allows you to get your money back if the dealer gets a natural.
- It halves your winnings if the dealer doesn’t get a natural and you win your original bet.
- It makes you lose 1.5x your original bet if you lose both wagers.
Keeping in mind that the probability of a dealer getting a natural is below 1/3, taking insurance is not a particularly wise idea, mathematically speaking. If you are counting cards, however, and know that the probability of this event is higher, you may elect to insure yourself.
- A special type of blackjack bet, in which a player wagers on the dealer getting a natural.