When to Take Insurance in Blackjack
Is taking insurance a good idea?
Generally speaking, it is not a good move to take insurance in the game of blackjack.
They say that a fool and his money are soon parted, and this could be the motto for any regular Blackjack player who takes the Insurance bet when offered by the Dealer.
If you are a complete novice then you may think a bet that pays 2-1 when successful is a great idea, but sadly if that’s the way you think then you are in for a rough ride!
Sure an Insurance bet can win, they occasionally do but if you continue to take it time after time this one bet alone is going to have such a dramatic effect on your bankroll you will soon be heading for the ATM, to restock your chips!
To understand why the Blackjack Insurance bet is so bad you need to take a quick look at the mathematics of the game, lets take a 2 deck game that offers players a House Edge of 0.45%.
The house edge is worked out by looking at the rules, and in this example the Dealer will always hit a soft 17, and a player can double down after a split but you may not take late Surrender nor can you re-split Aces.
A house edge of 0.45% is reasonable, by no means the best and definitely not the worst, but by taking an Insurance bet on this game you are playing against a house edge on that bet of 6.796%, which is over 15 times worse that the games true house edge!
The number of decks in a shoe will have a different effect on the House Edge attached to the Insurance bet, for example a one deck game will mean you are playing against a house edge on the Insurance bet of 5.882%.
A two deck game as mentioned gives a house edge of 6.796% on an Insurance bet, and a 4 deck game is even worse at 7.246%. The more decks in a shoe and the higher this House Edge climbs.
A six decks shoe give an Insurance bet house edge of 7.395% and an 8 deck game which is one of the most popular types offered has an Insurance bet house edge of a whopping 7.47%.
Some Blackjack variants offer different odds for taking the Insurance bet, and you could be lured into thinking these games give you fairer odds and a lower house edge for these enhanced payout odds.
Take the game of Double Attack Blackjack, a very popular game variant which is found in abundance in Atlantic City. This game gives players odds of 5-2 for a successful Insurance bet, and at first glance that appears very generous.
That is until you realize that due to many factors including the fact the this game uses eight 48 card Spanish decks, (which are simply standard decks with all the Ten cards taken out and not put into play) the house edge on this bet is a massive 12.27%!
So the conclusion is, whenever you are offered Insurance the Dealer isn’t doing it for charity, as you will lose more times than you win when taking it, so avoid this bet like the plague!
Learn more about taking blackjack insurance on our basic blackjack strategy page.