Blackjack Insurance Bets Explained

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A closeup of the insurance payouts banner on a blackjack table.
BetMGM Feb 07, 2024, 10:05 AM

Blackjack is one of the most commonly played online casino games today, but its popularity dates back to the 1700s. Of course, the game has changed a lot over the years, with many new rules, bonuses, and side bets added. 

Whether you play blackjack online or in a brick-and-mortar casino, one of the more modern additions you’ll notice is insurance. But if you’re unfamiliar with the concept, don’t worry. This blog post will tell you everything you need to know about insurance and how it works, helping you play blackjack with confidence. 

How Does Insurance Work in Blackjack?

Blackjack is one of the few casino table games that offers you insurance against a bet going wrong. In this case, insurance covers you when the dealer has a natural blackjack. It’s one of the most frustrating situations, as you’ll instantly lose your bet, regardless of your own hand’s strength. 

If the dealer’s upcard is an ace, there’s a good chance their hidden card is a ten, jack, queen. or king, to make 21. To soften the blow of the dealer potentially having blackjack, the dealer will ask the players whether they would like to take insurance.

It’s important to note that the dealer will only ask the question once before it’s the first player’s turn to act. If you decline, the opportunity is gone. You won’t be asked again when it’s your turn to play.

Making a Blackjack Insurance Bet

Insurance is basically a side bet with payout odds of +200. When offered, if you elect to take it, you’re effectively placing a second wager. This additional bet costs a fixed price of half the initial stake.

For example, if the original bet was $10, the player taking insurance would have to pay another $5. This means that a total of $15 has been wagered on the hand so far, in two different bets.

In order to indicate that the insurance bet is live, the $5 is placed on what is known as the “Insurance Line.” This is clearly marked in the space between the player’s cards and those of the dealer. You’ll easily notice it on the table, either in a physical casino or when playing live dealer blackjack online.

What Happens Next?

Once everyone has chosen whether or not to take insurance, play continues as normal. If the dealer does indeed have blackjack, everyone who took insurance wins on their side bet. Of course, the initial wager is still a loser.

If the dealer did not have blackjack, the main bet remains active. Players will continue to try and beat the dealer’s score. However, the insurance bet is lost as a result.

Benefits of Insurance

Taking insurance is, as the name implies, a form of protection. If you’re playing blackjack online for real money, you obviously don’t want to lose. Nobody enjoys that particular feeling, so it’s tempting to mitigate against any potential losses. Insurance looks like an attractive way to do that.

Returning to the specific example, you’ve placed $10 and accepted insurance for $5. If the dealer reveals they have blackjack, your hand is an automatic loser, meaning you have lost your $10. 

However, the $5 insurance has payout odds of +200, which means a return of $15. You spent $15 to win $15, meaning that the overall play was break-even. You didn’t make a profit, but you were protected against the dealer’s blackjack, meaning you didn’t lose either. 

What if the Dealer Doesn’t Have Blackjack?

If you place an insurance bet and the dealer reveals that they don’t have blackjack, your insurance bet is lost. In the above example, you won’t get the $5 back, but you are allowed to carry on playing.

If you continued and beat the dealer, you would receive the standard +100 payout odds as usual. In this example, that means a return of $20 from your $10 wager. However, the $5 loss would eat into your profit somewhat. 

Of course, if you’re unable to beat the dealer, you’ll lose your original bet of $10, too. Having lost the insurance bet, you’re down a total of $15 instead of $10. This is the risk and reward that you need to weigh up in your mind to determine whether it’s worth taking insurance or not.

Should You Take Insurance?

Avoiding insurance is a very common tip for popular casino games. It’s an unwritten rule among the blackjack pros who understand basic strategy and who count cards for a living. 

Without getting into the math, the +200 payout odds don’t align with the true probability of the dealer holding blackjack. As such, it’s a long-term losing play that simply increases the house edge. However, not everyone in the casino aspires to be a robot that’s designed to make optimal plays. 

Many people go to the casino, whether that’s a brick-and-mortar venue or one of the internet’s best online blackjack sites, simply to have fun. And insurance is all part of the blackjack experience. When you make the right call and the dealer shows blackjack, you’ll feel like a genius.

Guaranteed Fun at BetMGM Casino

Taking insurance or not is down to the individual. Math aside, you’ll need to assess your own risk tolerance. If losing to a natural blackjack will frustrate you so much that it’s no longer fun to play, it’s almost certainly worth exploring this side bet.

Whatever you prefer to do, you won’t need insurance against playing at BetMGM Casino. When you register an account, you’ll have access to a sizable catalog of blackjack titles, with all kinds of intriguing rule variations. You’re certain to find the right game for you and have a great time.

Actress Vanessa Hudgens flipping casino chips next to the text "The King of Casinos"
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Our BetMGM editors and authors are casino experts with a wealth of knowledge of the online casino industry at all levels. Their coverage includes company news, game reviews, how-to instructional articles, strategy guides, and editorials showcasing BetMGM’s superior product and game library.

Our BetMGM editors and authors are casino experts with a wealth of knowledge of the online casino industry at all levels. Their coverage includes company news, game reviews, how-to instructional articles, strategy guides, and editorials showcasing BetMGM’s superior product and game library.