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Insurance only happens when the dealer's face up card is an Ace, when the dealer will ask the players if they want insurance (he won't know what his face down card or 'hole' card is at this point, so you won't be able to read his expression for clues). Insurance means that half the player's bet is placed on the 'insurance' semicircle printed on the felt. If the dealer gets a BlackJack the player wins the the insurance bet but loses the original bet meaning a zero hand because insurance pays 2 to 1. If the dea

ler does not get BlackJack, the insurance bet is lost and the hand is played normally with the remaining half bet. Don't bother with insurance unless you are trying to card count (take it when the number of non '10' cards to 10s drops below the 2 to 1 margin). You may also come across 'Surrender' - it's not widely used, but there are 2 versions you may find, 'early surrender' and 'late surrender'.

Early surrender means quitting on 2 card hands if you don't like the dealer's up card (e.g. a ten or court card). Surrendering in this way will give you a small extra advantage whcih is why casinos don't like it. Late surrender means waiting until the dealer checks for BlackJack, at which point if he doesn't, you may decide to surrender. As we say, not very common, so ask before joining the table whether you can or not. And that's it! Stay cool, and don't panic, and nobody will guess you are a casino newbie!

Wilma Turner is a professional blackjack player who writes for

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