Skip insurance if blackjack dealer is showing an ace

QUESTION: I was recently playing blackjack at a Detroit casinos, and I was dealt a blackjack with the dealer showing an ace. I opted not to take even money, as I had always thought you shouldn’t take insurance. After checking her hole card and turning over a face card for a dealer blackjack, the dealer told me I was wrong — that it was not the same as insurance and that it was free money. Was the dealer correct?

Another situation: Playing blackjack again, the dealer inadvertently pulled two cards and dealt them both to the first player. She called over the pit boss, who proceeded to give the top (first) card to the first player, burned the second card and then had the dealer continue dealing the rest of the hands, including her own. The pit boss then gave all of us at the table the option of playing our hand or pulling back our bet and folding. The dealer showed a face card. Everyone at the table except me pulled back. I had a hard 18. I figured that was a decent hand and gambled I’d have a chance to win. I didn’t. What should I have done? — Suzanne R.

ANSWER: When I pitched cards, it amazed me how many players jumped at the opportunity to take even money, or insurance, when I showed an ace. Except for counting cards, making either of these wagers is fiscally not a sound move, even if you are dealt a blackjack. The reason is that 10-point cards (10, J, Q, K) make up 31% of the deck, so there is a 69% chance that the dealer does not have a blackjack. Also remember that you are sitting on one 10-point card, and a quick scan of the table probably reveals additional 10-point cards. As a result, the chances now become even greater than 69% that the dealer doesn’t possess a blackjack. Based on the 3-2 payoff you receive for a blackjack, you will make more money over the long run by never taking insurance or even money.

As to your second question, when your dealer’s skill at dealing cards falters, the dealer is not the one who settles squabbles. All authoritative moves are made by a pit boss.

In addition, an 18 against a face card will not make you a long-term winner at blackjack, so you should have pulled your bet. What constitutes a strong hand are those 20s. With a 10-10 against any dealer’s upcard, this is where you make money over the long run. Approximately, 70% of your overall winnings at blackjack result from these two hands: 10-10 and A-10.


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