Card Counting and Insurance

Okay, in my last post I pretty much spelled put why taking in Insurance is not a good thing to do. In fact, I showed you how you will lose money if you take insurance.

Now I’m going to tell you when it’s okay to take insurance.

No, this is not a contradictory post. I will not take back what I said in my last post either.

However, there are times when taking insurance can be a smart thing to do. And this applies to players who count cards.

First, let’s look at two of the winning situations.

Let’s say you are playing at a $10 table. You’ve made your bet, and have received your cards. And you have been dealt a natural blackjack. But the dealer’s up card is an Ace. You are, of course, offered insurance. In this instance, you take it. And here’s why:

You have been counting the deck as the rounds have progressed. You know that the deck is rich in ten value cards. The chances of the dealer having blackjack are also pretty good considering the deck is ten card rich. So you take insurance.

Now one of two things can happen. You already have your blackjack, so don’t worry about your hand.

The dealer’s hole card could be a ten value card. You both have blackjack. You win the insurance bet because the dealer does have a natural—remember, taking insurance is just another name for a side bet on whether or not the dealer has blackjack. Since he does, you win the 2-1 payout: $10. But since you both have hands of equivalent value, the actual round is a push, so your original bet is returned to you. You’ve made a net gain of $10.

The other outcome could be that the dealer doesn’t have blackjack. You lose the insurance bet, but you collect $15 on the 3-2 payout of having a natural blackjack. Again, your net gain is $10.

The lesson here is that it can be advantageous to take insurance. But the only time to do so when you have met two criteria:

You’ve been counting cards and know that the deck is rich in ten value cards, and you have been dealt a natural blackjack. It is recommended that you only take insurance when you’ve met those two criteria.

Still, on the whole, insurance is not a good bet, unless you have that natural blackjack and are facing a ten value rich deck.

Word on Blackjack Betting Strategies

I’m sure in your time online, while either searching for a good online casino or looking for blackjack tips (always abide by basic strategy, by the way), you’ve seen multiple theories on betting strategies. And, I’ll be honest, I’m not a fall really of them. I rather like my card counting. However, that’s pretty much useless when playing online blackjack. So what’s a blackjack player to do?

Well, there is a couple betting strategies that we can look over.

First, let’s look at the Martingale approach. In this betting strategy for every hand that you lose you increase your bet by a hundred percent. The only time you return to your original bet is when you’ve won a hand. In other words, this strategy is aimed at trying to beat losing streaks. Obviously you need a large bankroll to handle this one though, which could be a downside to using this strategy. Let’s say you are playing at a $10 table, and you’ve lost the first nine hands. That means on the tenth hand you would need to bet $5120. And there’s no guarantee that you would even win that hand. Seems to me that in using the Martingale approach you stand to lose a fair amount of money—more than I would personally be comfortable with. And if your bankroll isn’t outstanding to begin with, you could have a short night in playing blackjack. However, there is a definite benefit to winning back what you lost and making quite a gain too. Let’s say that you won that tenth hand with a natural blackjack—your payout would be $7680.

Now let’s look at the Paroli blackjack betting strategy. Whereas, Martingale seeks to overcome a losing streak, Paroli seeks to make the most of a winning streak. This is accomplished by doubling when you win a hand, but you return to your original amount once you lose a hand. This betting strategy doesn’t require a large bankroll, which is nice for those who don’t wish to risk a lot. Using the same scenario as above, after nine hands you will have only lost $90. But, despite this method being safer risk-wise, it doesn’t seem to me to have the high yield potential that the Martingale method does.

Mostly it comes down to your own personal thoughts towards blackjack and gambling in general. Are you a glass half full or a glass half empty sort of person? Me, I will admit that I’m the half empty sort. I approach blackjack with the mentality that I have a greater chance at losing. I’ve heard that this is smart, as players who believe that they can’t possibly lose tend to be over-confident and lose more.

It never hurts to try both methods in an online casino’s free play version. This way you can try both methods and see which one seems to suit you better. I believe that if you’re willing to risk and the bankroll, the Martingale has a better chance of giving you a larger payout, even though the Paroli is a safer methods. But nothing ventured, nothing gained, right?