When the dealer shows an A, players are given the option of taking insurance against the dealers’ having blackjack. Calling this “insurance” is a bit misleading. Actually, it is nothing other than a side bet that is paid at 2 to 1. If you wish to take insurance (which is only recommended in very specific circumstances recognizable by an expert card counter only), place a bet equal to half your original bet in the semicircle running just in front of the your betting spot. If the dealer has black-jack, you will lose your original bet but win the insurance wager and break even on the hand. If the dealer does not have blackjack, you will lose the insurance bet and the hand will be played out normally.
When to Take Insurance
Never! Next topic.
“Wait a minute!” I can hear many players saying. Don’t you always take insurance when you have blackjack yourself? That’s what everyone tells me.
Well, let’s stop and take a look at that situation more closely. Many people do believe that this is a “no lose” situation. The logic goes something like this. If your original bet is $10 and you have blackjack and you take insurance ($5), the hand will play out in one of two ways. Either the dealer will have black-jack or he will not. If he does, the hand is a push but you will win $10 because of the insurance. If he does not, you will win the hand but not the insurance bet and you will still win $10.
While taking insurance when you have blackjack seems like a “win” in every case (because it is), it is *not* your best play. What most inexperienced players fail to realize is that the insurance is a side bet. It is completely unrelated to the original bet. Let’s take a closer look.
You are guaranteed a “win” when you take insurance, but you are missing the opportunity to play the odds for a larger win. Assume you are playing alone with the dealer in a six deck game and you bet $10 on your hand and bet $5 on insurance. A six deck shoe contains 96 10’s and 214 non-10’s. After you and the dealer have been dealt your cards, you have blackjack and the dealer shows and A, so there are 95 10’s and 214 non-10’s left. There are 95 ways for the dealer to have a 10 in the hole, and if you take insurance, you will win $10 on each of them for an income of $950. However, there are 214 ways for the dealer to have a non-10 in the hole, and on those occasions you will lose $5 each, for a loss of $1,070. This is an expected loss of $120 — 7.8 percent — on 309 possibilities. A very bad bet!
It should be noted that there are certain times when taking insurance is advantageous to the player, but these circumstances can only be detected by the best card counters.