When first playing blackjack, players learn to hit, stand, and split as a basic strategy. But the insurance bet is one of the most popular and straightforward side bets available.

Paying 2/1, the insurance bet gives the player a little protection should the dealer be given a strong card. But does it pay to take the bet?

Let's take a closer look to see if this is one insurance policy you should take out...

How does blackjack insurance work?

Blackjack is a straightforward game: get as close to 21 with your hand without going 'bust'. But, sometimes, you simply have to beat the dealer's total to win.

When playing blackjack online, the player always makes the first move.  

Without complete information, they have to make the best guess as to whether their hand is better than the dealer's. Depending on the dealer's up card, the player should know when to hit, stand, or double down.

But what if you could hedge your bet against the dealer beating your total? That's where insurance comes in.

Insurance is a special side bet that lets the player stake half their original bet against the dealer hitting a natural blackjack (a hand containing an ace and a picture card for a total of 21).

Insurance can only be taken if the dealer shows an ace. When this happens, the table will flash on your computer screen and give you the option to place your bet.

If the dealer does reveal 21, the insurance bet is paid out at 2/1.

Advantages and disadvantages of insurance betting

In a game of blackjack, the player simply has to beat the dealer's hand to win. But any tied hands end in a 'push', where the player's stake is returned.

Insurance can be a good bet to take in a game with lots of decks. The more decks that are used, the more cards there are in the shoe with a value of 10. And with so many 10-value cards to draw, the better the chance the dealer has of making blackjack.

If a player has a marginal hand like 14 or 15, insurance isn't worth a punt. You are in a poor position to win the hand anyway, so save your money.

In any case, it's usually accepted that taking insurance is a long-term loser for players. The 2/1 price isn't large enough to warrant taking the wager.

Finding alternative online blackjack side bets

The insurance bet isn't the only side bet available in Betway’s online casino.

Many of Microgaming's variations feature a bonus wager of one kind or another. In most cases, you can also take insurance on top of any side bet.

1. Bonus Blackjack Multi-Hand:

Microgaming's variation of European blackjack lets players gamble on four hands in one game. As well as insurance, you can place side bets to earn 50/1 (Jack and Ace of spades), 25/1 (Jack and Ace of diamonds, clubs, or hearts), or 5/2 (two cards of the same suit).

2. Atlantic City Blackjack Gold Series:

This is a unique blackjack variant, powered by Microgaming. Based on a popular version of blackjack devised in Atlantic City, the US gambling hotspot, it allows players to 'surrender' half their bet if they feel they are about to lose against the dealer. The insurance bet is still in play if the dealer shows an ace. 

3. High Streak Blackjack Gold Series:

High Streak Blackjack features a neat side bet that rewards players who win two consecutive hands. With the insurance bet safeguarding against a dealer's blackjack, savvy players can work the odds in their favour by backing both wagers.

Trying the insurance betting system in blackjack

Insurance is a way of claiming some of your stake back if the dealer looks like winning. But a better bet for players is to find a version of blackjack with a Surrender feature.