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The Insurance Rule in Blackjack

July 28, 2012

You probably know this already, but when you have a two-card 21 in blackjack, it is the best hand you can have. That is, in fact, referred to as a "blackjack" and you are an automatic winner, except in those cases when the dealer has the exact same thing. In cases like that, it is a tie.

Depending on the rules of the blackjack game you're playing, the dealer looks in the hole with an Ace showing, for purposes of revealing whether it is a ten, which would indeed make it a two-card 21, which ends the hand. The same thing can happen when the dealer has a ten-value card showing (a 10, Jack, Queen or King) because an Ace underneath will also create a two-card 21.

You're going to have an option in these circumstances. In the online blackjack game, you will see the "insurance" icon, giving you an opportunity to exercise a side bet, allowing you to insure your hand against instantly losing to the dealer's two-card 21. You will then have to decide whether you're going to do this or not. This decision comes before the dealer plays out the rest of the hand, or peeks underneath.

If you make the decision to take insurance, you're going to click that icon. An amount equal to one-half your original bet is placed in front of the hand you are playing. Don't worry that your bet is difficult to divide in two; the program will do that for you. After that is done, the hole card is checked. If it is an instance where the dealer has 21, you are going to LOSE your original bet but WIN the insurance wager. The insurance bet pays off at 2-to-1 odds, which means that you break even on the hand.

If the dealer checks and there is not a card underneath that completes a two-card 21, you will LOSE the insurance bet and both sides will play out the rest of the hand as normal. You'll make your playing decision as to what to do about your own hand, and you could actually wind up losing both your insurance bet and your original bet.

Is insurance a beneficial option for the player to use? Well, that is indeed a good question. On the surface it would seem so, as the disappointment of getting stopped before you even get started is mitigated a bit. However, you should take note that the odds against winning an insurance bet are 2.18-to-1, so with a payoff of 2-to-1, you are certainly getting "the worst of it."