Aug

12

2010

# The “Even Money” Option in Blackjack

In blackjack, if the dealer has an Ace face up when you’re dealt a blackjack, the dealer will ask if you want “even money.” If you wager \$10, you’ll win \$10 even if the dealer also has a blackjack. “The only sure thing in the house,” I’ve had dozens of dealers tell me.

It’s a form of insurance, which is really a bet that the dealer has a blackjack. You’re offered insurance whenever the dealer has an Ace up. That allows you to make a wager half the size of your original wager. If the dealer has a 10-value card face down, your insurance bet pays 2-1.

The arithmetic works out so that if you have blackjack and make an insurance bet, you win an amount equal to your original bet regardless of the dealer’s final hand. If you bet \$10 plus a \$5 insurance bet and the dealer has blackjack to tie your blackjack, your original bet just pushes, but you win \$10 on the 2-1 payoff on insurance. If the dealer doesn’t have blackjack, your original bet wins \$15 on the 3-2 payoff on blackjack, but your insurance bet loses \$5, leaving a net gain of, yes, \$10.

The casino offers “even money” as short-hand, speeding the process.

But to get that sure thing, you have to pass up a 3-2 payoff if the dealer doesn’t have a 10-value card face down, and he has a 10-value less than 31 percent of the time. If the dealer doesn’t tie you, you SHOULD win \$15 on that \$10 bet.

Unless you’re a card counter and know that more than a third of the remaining cards are 10s or face cards, don’t take even money. That “sure thing” costs you money in the long run.