Rules and Strategy for Pontoon
A popular variant of blackjack is Pontoon. The game is very similar to blackjack but with key differences that make it stand out. For those looking for something a little different, it is a game worth checking out.
Today, we will teach you the basic rules of Pontoon and some basic strategy for the game.
Rules of Pontoon
Pontoon is nearly identical to blackjack but with a couple of differences. For starters, the Pontoon is the equivalent of a normal blackjack. It only pays 2 to 1 instead of 3 to 2.
Next, ties are done differently in this game. In standard blackjack, a tie is a push. However, in this game, all ties go to the dealer, including Pontoons. If you and the dealer make a Pontoon, you lose. For some, this is a deal-breaker.
There is one cool difference to this game, and that is 5-card hands. If you are able to make a five-card hand in this game without busting, you automatically win. You also win 2 to 1 on a 5-card hand as opposed to the standard 1 to 1 payout on normal wins.
Standing rules are a bit different. The dealer will hit a soft 17 and stop on all 5-card hands. For players, the can only stand once they have 15 or higher. This will impact the strategy a bit depending on the situation.
Double down and splitting rules are also a bit different. You can double down on any combination of 2 to 4 cards. This can be done only once each hand. You are permitted to double down after a split. Resplits are not permitted.
Table limits for Pontoon games are generally a bit higher than most blackjack games. The minimum bet is usually $1, where most blackjack games will offer lower limits. The maximum bet is generally $100.
For those looking to reduce the house edge, this is a great game. Pontoon has just a 0.38% house edge on the basic game. Normal blackjack has up to triple the house edge, even when using optimal play.
Pontoon Side Bet
Pontoon has a Sweet 16 side bet that you can opt to play. Before the deal, you can place this bet and it pays based on the first two cards dealt to you.
Here a quick rundown of the side bet payouts:
- Total is 16 to 21 – 1:1
- One Ace in Hand – 1:1
- Pair of Aces – 2:1
- Pair of Deuces through Sevens – Push
This is one of the better side bets you can play in terms of the house edge. The house edge is only 2.52%. Granted, it’s significantly higher than the standard house edge for the game.
Basic Pontoon Strategy
Pontoon strategy can be fairly complex. As such, we are giving you some strategy charts to help you with your game. You’ll notice that the charts are for live Pontoon, but they will help you with the online version. Note that some online Pontoons games do not show the first card for the dealer.
Here’s a basic strategy chart for Pontoon hands. The dealer hole cards are the upper line when available.
The next tip you could easily guess. Avoid the Sweet 16 side bet. This game is a sucker bet when compared to the base game. The payoffs are also lower compared to similar bets in other online casino games. Overall, it’s not worth the risk.
Pontoon can be found at Ignition Casino, Casino Max, and most legitimate online casinos. This is an excellent alternative to standard blackjack with a lower house edge. It may not be the best game for online casino bonuses as the game often contributes little tot he wagering requirement. For those looking for something a little different in their blackjack game, this is a great game to play.