Insurance Betting

A description of the Insurance Betting System, with examples of basic play and how to win by applying the system as a wagering strategy.

Insurance Betting System

As noted several times throughout this section on Basic Blackjack Systems, there are two forms of progressive betting. Positive progressions seek to maximize profits when winning by increasing the size of the bet following each win. Negative progressions seek to recover losses when losing by increasing the size of the bet after each loss.

The so-called Insurance Betting System is an example of a positive betting progression with a significant twist in that it never increases the initial wager. Instead of making bigger bets in response to wins or losses, the player is instructed to always bet the initial amount wagered and decrease the size of it by half following a loss.

In this respect, it is a pseudo-positive progression, similar to the One Half Up Betting System, but going in the opposite direction—One Half Down. With no sequences to memorize or extensive calculations to be made, it can be a novel if somewhat risky approach to wagering for Blackjack beginners.

Background

Insurance Betting can be seen as reactionary, since the amount of the wager is based entirely on the result of the preceding hand. On the other hand, it can also be viewed as an almost radical style of wagering. The only time bets become “larger” is after they have already shrunk. That means a rather sizable wager must be made initially, which goes against the tactics advocated by most progressive betting systems.

In a nutshell, the Insurance Betting System requires the player to decrease the bet by half following each loss and return to the original bet after a win. This makes Insurance Betting somewhat akin to flat betting. It requires the player to play hands well enough to win more than lose. The advantage, however, is that the decreases following losses will make losing streaks much less harmful, while always betting the same large amount during winning streaks will maximize successes.

In some ways, Insurance Betting also reflects the theory behind the d’Alembert Betting System—i.e., the “Law of Equilibrium,” which assumes that when two events are equally likely to occur, they really will occur equally in the long term. If the number of wins and losses is about the same, having wagered less on losing hands than on winning hands will result in a profit over the long term.

Applying the System

Decreasing a wager by 50% is easiest when the amount bet is always an even number of units. For this reason, just as with the One Half Up Betting System, an initial wager of two units is preferable to a single unit as the starting point. In fact, four units would be even better and eight units would be optimum.

No Blackjack table allows less than the minimum limit to be wagered, so the need to cut the bet in half must be anticipated in advance. Even at a $5 table, this can be a rather expensive starting point, since betting eight $5 units would mean an initial wager of $40. However, that is what’s needed to cover a potential four-hand losing streak. Losing at $40 would cause the next wager to be $40 – $20 = $20, then $20 – $10 = $10, and finally $10 – $5 = $5, which would be the smallest wager possible.

Of course, the progression jumps right back up to wagering $40 following each win. The expectation is that a string of wins can boost the bankroll sufficiently to cover the losses at lower betting amounts. It all depends on whether back-to-back winning hands come up frequently.

The best use of this system might be as a brief change of pace from a failing negative betting progression, such as Martingale or Labouchere. When one of those systems reaches a wagering requirement of $40 or higher, the player can switch over to Insurance Betting and look for a few quick wins to put the bankroll back in order.

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