Now that improved technology and software makes it possible for mobile blackjack players to enjoy a quality live casino experience, deciding whether or not to take out blackjack insurance is a real question.
First we should explain exactly what blackjack insurance is!
The worst thing that can happen as a player is for a dealer to get blackjack (defined as getting 21 with just two cards). Blackjack by the dealer means everyone loses, and no one likes to lose.
If the card showing in a dealer’s hand is an ace, according to most versions of the game players can all choose to buy insurance. This is a side bet that the dealer will have blackjack. If they do, the side bet pays off and (hopefully) the player will recover some or all of what they lost on their original wager.
It sounds at first like a no-brainer. Why not take insurance? Of course, casinos would not allow something that was advantageous to the player all the time into the game. Taking an insurance bet is mathematically a losing proposition most of the time – here’s how:
An insurance bet is essentially a bet that the hole card (the dealer’s face down card) will be a ten card (a ten or face card). There are 16 ten cards in a standard deck (four kings, four queens, four jacks, and four tens). Since there are 52 cards in a deck, the chance that a random card will be a ten card is just over 30%.
Now here’s where it gets tricky. Most insurance bets pay out 2 to 1. Insurance bets payouts are normally written on the table, even on live games streamed on your mobile, so it is easy to check.
A two to 1 bet means you double your money if you win, but you’ll have lost your money with the original bet so it is really just getting you back to where you started. But there is only a 30% chance your insurance bet will pay out. Mathematically, it only makes sense to take out a 2 to 1 bet is if the chance is 50% or greater.
If you were playing video blackjack, which a few years ago was your only option for playing blackjack on your mobile, taking out insurance would always be a disadvantage. Video blackjack uses random number generators to decide which card is dealt next. Since it’s impossible to run out of computer generated, virtual cards, the chances of an insurance bet paying off would never change.
But if you are playing live dealer blackjack on your mobile, a different situation can arise.
Let’s say you’re playing at a table with eight player positions, or boxes. That means you will see up to sixteen other cards before needing to make a decision on whether to take insurance or not. The more ten cards are showing, this reduces the chance of the dealer’s hold card being a ten card.
Of course, most live dealer games are played with six or more decks at a time, but unlike video poker there is no infinite number of ten cards available. With live dealer games, and a very observant player, the possibility of insurance bets made on your mobile being to the players advantage arises.