Pontoon is the popular British variant of Blackjack and in many respects the two games have striking similarities. The card values and play style are generally the same when it comes to both casino games, but the strategies that you can use differ greatly from those used by blackjack players because of the use of doubling down and multiple card hands, especially the 5 Card Trick.
Pontoon Strategy – Is it the same as Blackjack? Learn The Basic Rules of Play and How to Win Pontoon
Pontoon is on one hand very similar to blackjack and in many other respects completely different. Since there is no dealer up-card in the game of Pontoon, basic strategies are based entirely on the number of cards that can make up a hand. This is the same for land based pontoon and an online pontoon game; with a 4-card hand we always double down on any soft and hard hands that do not equal 17 or more. With a soft hand we have very little chance of busting so there’s always the potential for a 5 Card Trick if we double down. In this type of scenario, as long as the dealer doesn’t make a 5 Card Trick, we can make a 4:1 payout.
The House Edge in Pontoon – Using the Optimal Pontoon Strategy Can Greatly Increase Your Chances of Winning
It’s worth noting that while many players perceive the game of pontoon to be an ‘easier’ version of Blackjack, this is not the case as pontoon strategy is far more difficult in practice. Just like in Blackjack, players have the opportunity to reduce the house edge (the advantage the casino/dealer has vs the player) while playing the game. Both games have what players call an ‘optimal strategy’; a set of plays to use whatever the current scenario may be. By using the optimal strategy, you have the opportunity to reduce the house edge to under 0.5% and, depending on the game type, this can mean that playing pontoon can actually be more profitable than blackjack as the house advantage can be as much as one third more than that of pontoon.
Pontoon Tricks & Tips to Win! Want to Progress your Game? Learn Pontoon Strategy by Referencing our Hands Guide
As an example, if you have a soft 19 comprised of 3 cards in Pontoon and you double down, you can still hit even if you catch an Ace or 2 to give you a soft 20 or 21 as you cannot bust and have the potential to make a 5 Card Trick. The only 4 card hands that you ever stand with in Pontoon are a hard 18 and above. Even when we have a 4 card hard 17 we hit and with a 4 card hard 16 we double down. This is where the strategies differ greatly from traditional blackjack. Basic rule of thumb here is that if after doubling down on a 3 cards hand, if your hand doesn’t equal a hard 18 and above, hit again.
Below is a table that outlines what plays you should make based on the number of cards you’re holding and the active total of those cards.