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Blackjack insurance and even money bets

Blackjack insurance seems to be a rule that is most often misunderstood. It may sound quite advantageous with any outcome, but in fact it is quite an unprofitable bet as it offers high house advantage (over 7%). That is why one of the basic blackjack tips is to avoid making Insurance bets.

We talk about blackjack insurance when the dealer's face-up card is an Ace. In this case the dealer may offer the players "insurance". The players may bet up to half of their original bets. The bets are made on a special insurance area in front of the initial bets. The dealer checks his face-down card for "Blackjack". Two situations may occur:

  • The dealer has "Blackjack". In this case the players are paid 2:1 insurance. Unless some of the players have "Blackjack" too, all original bets are lost. This means that players break even (in case they bet half of their original bet amount).
  • The dealer doesn't have "Blackjack". In such case all insurance bets are lost, but the players preserve their original bets and can continue the play.

Odds for insurance

In a single-deck blackjack play, there are 16 cards valued 10 out of 52. Roughly speaking, the probability that the dealer's face-down card will be any of the 10-valued cards makes 16 out of 51 (with one Ace out as it is face-up), which is nearly one-third.

Even money

If the player is likely to have "Blackjack", the dealer may offer him or her "even money" bet. It is in fact quite the same as blackjack insurance bet, but in this case the "Blackjack" itself is insured. For example, the dealer has an Ace face-up and the players decide to make insurance bet of $5.

  • In case the dealer has "Blackjack", the player who bets, say, $10, loses the initial bet but gets 2 to 1 payout making the same $10.
  • In an opposite case, the player loses $5 but makes a $15 profit for a "Blackjack". The total profit here will make $10 again.

It means that players get even money for their bets. That's why casinos offer to eliminate insurance bets in such cases and offer even money bet instead for players who are likely to have "Blackjack".

Blackjack insurance sounds like a profitable bet - you actually don't lose in any case. But the truth is that profit here still comes at a certain price, and eventually you may lose quite a good amount of money. Anyway, due to the basic strategy you should never choose Insurance or even money bet (also called 'sucker bets') unless you are an adept of blackjack counting systems and are sure that the bet will win.