Taking Insurance in Blackjack Isn’t Always a Bad Bet

In the past, I wrote articles that advised that you shouldn’t take out insurance when playing blackjack. This advice has been followed by over 90% of players who have read my articles.

I will also present the opposing side to give you an in-depth understanding of insurance. In a handful of situations, insurance is the best play. These situations are only obvious to professionals card counters. Because counting pros spend their time beating casinos, not reading my articles and therefore insurance is an inappropriate play, I advise that everyone avoid taking out insurance.

Why am I writing this article about insurance?

You’re about to learn that there are certain situations while playing blackjack where it makes sense to take out insurance. These situations may surprise you, but they are not the reason most players have insurance.

The Argument against Insurance

Simple math can explain why insurance is often a bad choice. This simple math can be used to prove that insurance can work in certain situations, as you will see in the next section.

If the dealer has an Ace, he/she offers insurance to all the players at the table. Insurance costs half your initial wager and pays 2:1 if the dealer has a naturally blackjack. A natural blackjack is only possible if the dealer’s down card is worth at least 10 points.

9 to 4 odds are against that the face down card will be worth 10 points. This means that there is a 30.77% chance that the dealer has a Blackjack. Because of the 13 card ranks, only four are worth 10 points and nine are not, the odds of 9 to 4 are very good. The face cards and the 10s are the four value ranks worth 10 points each.

The casino has an edge when you compare the payout of 9 to 4 to the payout of 2 and 1. To be fair, the odds of the dealer winning a blackjack must be equal to the payout. A payout of 2 to 1, which means that 33.33% of dealers must have a blackjack, is the probability.

The insurance wager is a good option in situations where the dealer is likely to have a blackjack.

Problem is, most times the dealer has a chance of getting a blackjack with a 33.33% or lower probability. This is due to the fact that the percentage or odds of the dealer winning a blackjack are calculated based on the normal composition of a deck.

Although it sounds right to calculate the odds or percentages using a normal deck distribution, this assumes that you don’t know any of the cards’ values. This is the best way to go, especially for a shoe game where a single card does not change the odds of winning or decreasing the percentages.

What happens when you consider the knowledge of the cards that were played and the remaining cards in the deck or shoe?

Can you use this information to decide if taking out insurance is good?

Also Read: Blackjack or Live Blackjack?

Why you should have insurance

Let’s take a look at an example of a bet that changes from bad to better once you have figured out the math behind insurance bets.

You’re playing in a single deck blackjack game.

  • You will see 14 cards in the first round. One card is worth 10 points. The remaining cards are valued at 10, with 15 cards being valued at 10. The deck contains 38 cards, with 14 cards being played.
  • The dealer holds an ace facing up. Now you don’t know the value of any other player’s cards and have a king in hand. You now have 17 cards in your hand, and you can add the dealer’s ace to the mix.
  • The 35 remaining cards are unseen and 14 of them have a value of 10 points. The odds of a dealer holding a 10-point down card are 21/14 or 3/2 against. This means that 40% of the dealer’s chances are that he will have a natural blackjack.

The winning insurance bet pays 2 to 1. This hand has better odds. A 2 to 1 payout means that there must be a minimum 33.3% chance of a dealer blackjack. In this case, it is 40%.

This example shows that insurance can be a profitable wager. However, it is also a very extreme example. This information can be used in any single-deck blackjack game. If you are good at tracking cards, this information can be used in a double-deck game.

This is similar to card counting in that it doesn’t require you to remember every card that was played. You just need to keep track of how many cards were played and how many cards have been converted to 10-point cards. This works even in shoe games. However, if you can keep track of this ratio in shoes games, then you should count cards.

How important is this knowledge?

It’s important that you recognize and take advantage of every advantage available. However, it is rare to have insurance with an edge. It’s worth looking out for if you are a frequent player of single- and double-deck games.

Profitable insurance is only possible if you do other things to reduce the house edge. You should first find blackjack games that have good rules. Basic strategy is the next thing every blackjack player must do. It is a waste of energy and time to think about insurance before these two things.

After you have learned the rules and mastered perfect strategy, you can begin to look for insurance opportunities. However, even in such a situation, I recommend that you look for insurance options to learn more about counting cards.

You’ll soon be using the same card-counting techniques as card counters when you begin to track card ratios. The fact is, the most popular card counting system includes a breakpoint at which players can start taking out insurance.

Also, the insurance wager is already built into a good counting system so that you can know when and when to take it.

Understanding how insurance works and when to take it is crucial if you want to maximize your advantage at the blackjack table. If you don’t feel like doing the extra work, stick to good rules and a proper strategy. You won’t make mistakes if you decline insurance every time. It’s not going to cost you much over the long-term if you do.

It is a costly error to make insurance decisions you don’t want to make.


Insurance at the blackjack table can be a poor idea. You should decline blackjack insurance if you are a player who uses basic strategy or doesn’t count cards. As you can see, insurance is not always a good investment.

After you have mastered basic blackjack strategy, it’s time to start looking for insurance opportunities. This is a sign you are ready to explore card counting. Understanding and applying the information above is a small step towards becoming a successful card counter.

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