Recently I was asked a question in regards to blackjack strategy and insurance. The young man in question plays blackjack online, and had heard that insurance can sometimes be advantageous for the player. He wanted to know if this were true or not.
In a way, yes, it is true. But! But it cannot be used for online blackjack.
In order to make insurance work for you in terms of blackjack strategy you need to be a card counter. And I do not just mean that you have just started counting cards in the casino. You need to be a strong card counter.
Real quick let’s take a moment to review what insurance really is. Insurance is offered when the dealer has an Ace showing. The player can then make a second wager for half the amount of his original wager so that if the hole card is a 10 he will receive a payout that is equivalent to his original wager, but he will lose his original wager.
It sounds like this in not a bad idea, but players who take insurance will lose more money in the long run simply because they are wagering more money when they take insurance. Because insurance is really a side bet on whether the dealer’s hole card is worth 10 or not.
So if the player stands to lose more money in the long run, how can there ever be a time when taking insurance is advantageous to the player?
There are only two occasions when taking insurance could be advantageous: when you are holding a 20 or a natural blackjack AND you have been counting the cards and know that the deck is rich in high cards.
True the dealer could wind up with blackjack, but the net gain is the same. Take a look.
You are making $10 wagers. You have a natural blackjack and take insurance. If the dealer does have a natural blackjack too, then you push and hang on to your $10, but you also collect on the $5 insurance wager, picking up $10.
If the dealer does not have a natural blackjack, you lose the $5 insurance wager, but win $15 from having a natural blackjack. Subtract the lost $5 from the $15 you won, and your net gain is still the same: $10.
But taking insurance under these conditions can only happen when the deck is rich in high cards, and the only way to tell that is to be skilled at card counting. And because this little blackjack strategy trick requires card counting it means that it cannot be used for online blackjack since card counting cannot be down in online blackjack.
But this insurance trick is still a fun additive to your blackjack strategy—a bit of a sneaky way to take a play meant to take a player’s money and turn it around.