Pontoon Games Tips 2021
Pontoon is a somewhat unknown, but quite cool variation on traditional Blackjack. In some casinos it is actually called Pontoon Blackjack. When played according to the basic strategy that will be outlined below, online casinos only have a less than .38% edge over the player.
This is incredibly low. Another way to look at it is that for every $100 you spend playing Pontoon, the house will only get $.38 over the long term.
Of course as we all know, variance happens and the exact edge never plays out over the short term. But the fact of the matter is that with such a small edge, it is quite possible to get on a hot run and build up quite a stack playing Pontoon online.
Bovada Casino was one of the first online casinos to offer Pontoon, and still offers a great Pontoon game these days as well. Joining the Pontoon bandwagon are many of the best online casinos, including Rushmore Casino and Slots Oasis Casino.
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The rules of Pontoon are quite similar to those of Blackjack. There are of course some key differences making Pontoon take on a life of its own. The main goal is the same however. Get as close to 21 without going over. What would be called Blackjack in the traditional game is called Pontoon appropriately – any Ace and another face card on your first two cards.
One key difference between the two games is that in Pontoon, the dealer’s cards are both face down, so you have no idea what they could have. The dealer will look beforehand to be certain he does not have a Pontoon, otherwise, you play blind versus the dealer.
The player may stand on any hand of 15 and above, but must hit on 14 or less. The dealer must stand on a hard 17, but will hit a soft 17 (17 with an Ace).
Making a five-card hand of 21 or less is the second best hand in Pontoon after a natural Pontoon. All five-card hands have the same value, the actual total is irrelevant, as long as it is not a bust. If there is no Pontoon and no five-card hand, then the hand closest to 21 without going over wins. If there is a tie then the dealer wins.
A Pontoon and a five-card winner are both paid 2 to 1, while all other wins are paid 1 to 1.
Players may split pairs twice, after which they play as normal hands. Aces can still make a natural Pontoon even after splitting. You may double down on any hand in Pontoon, even after hitting, and you may also hit after doubling. Split hands may be doubled as well.
Rules such as these are what can make Pontoon such a great game to play.
The basic strategy involved in playing Pontoon optimally is strictly based on math and probability. It takes into account your hand value and the number of cards that you hold, therefore it can get a bit complex.
This first set of rules is for a hard hand, which is a hand without an Ace. With any total of 4 through 7, you should hit. With a total of 8, you should hit, unless you have 3 cards, then double. With a hard 9, you should hit on two cards or double with three or four.
Hard 10 and 11 should always double. 12, 13 and 14 should just hit with two or three cards, but double with four. With a total of 15 or 16, you should stand with two or three cards, but double with four. Any hard 17 and above should stand, except 17 with four cards, which should hit.
Soft hands play a little differently, since getting 5 cards is basically as good as a Pontoon. Ace-deuce through Ace and a total of 7 should always hit, unless you have four cards, then always double. If you have an Ace and a total of 8, 9, or 10, you should stand with two cards or double if you have three or four.
Pairs of Aces and 8’s should both split, then play according to the cards you receive.
As you may be able to tell, Pontoon strategy is quite a bit different than regular Blackjack strategy. However, it is not very hard to learn basic Pontoon strategy and since the edge is so small, online Pontoon can be lots of fun and a small bankroll can last a very long time.