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How to Kill Pontoon for Blackjack Players

By: Joe Valentino, Saturday May 31st 2014
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Pontoon is a game that a lot of blackjack players end up trying at some point. If you want to really kill it, then you have to learn a different set of strategies than what you're normally used to with blackjack. Strategy in this game is based off of different factors, so the whole foundation for play is different, and if you try to stick to what you know with blackjack when you play pontoon, then you're going to find yourself in a lot of spots where you are losing money or not getting as good of payouts as you normally should.

There are two concepts that you have to think about when evaluating a pontoon hand. The first is what your total is and whether that is a soft total or a hard total. This is the only thing that pontoon has in common with blackjack. Aside from that, you also have to consider how many cards you have, and this is often a bigger factor than your total because having five cards gives you an automatic win over everything except for a natural 21. This is the key factor that most blackjack players miss because there is no dealer card shown in this game.

If you want to really kill it at pontoon, then the first thing you should learn is when you need to double. Generally speaking, you're always going to double if you have four cards except for when you have a hard total of 17 or higher. You'll also double with three cards if you have a soft 19, 20 or 21, and you'll double with three cards with hard totals of 9, 10 or 11 as well. You'll only double with two cards when you have a hard 10 or 11.

From there, realize that you can't stand with less than 15 in pontoon, and this is the magic number for hard hands since you'll always stand with 15 or higher if you have less than four cards. With soft hands, you're never going to stand unless you have a total of 19 or higher and you have exactly two cards. If you can remember these rules, then you'll play near-perfect pontoon by simply hitting the rest of the time. You should also hit when you have four cards to a hard 17, and you should stand with four cards to a hard 18 or higher.

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