The casino card game of Pontoon is considered to be the earliest version of blackjack. Compared to standard blackjack, the game has different set of rules and terminology, which is why knowing blackjack or having an optimal blackjack strategy won’t help you in this game.
If you want to play Pontoon and win cash, you have to learn the rules of game play, understand how it works and practice playing strategy moves. On the Internet, Pontoon is offered at online casinos that use RTG, Microgaming and Playtech software with a house edge of 0.38%. However, this Pontoon is different from the Australian one that is known among Americans as Spanish 21.
To begin with, Pontoon is played with two decks of playing cards. The highest ranked hand is pontoon, not blackjack, and it is a hand comprised of two cards- an Ace and any 10-valued card. The second best hand is a Five Card Trick which is a hand of five cards totaling 21 or less. Having either pontoon or a Five Card Trick still pays 2 to 1. In this game, players twist (hit), stick (stand) or buy (double down). Both the dealer and players’ cards are turned face down and the dealer wins all ties. The dealer peeks his cards for pontoon. Players can buy on 2, 3 or 4 cards and they can twist after buying.
Pontoon vs. Blackjack
The biggest difference between Pontoon and blackjack is that in the later game there is no Five Card Trick. In addition, when the result is a tie, the bet in blackjack is pushed instead of lost. Here, players can only double down on the first 2 cards and they cannot hit after doubling down. Furthermore, Pontoon pays 2 to 1, while blackjack pays 3 to 2. Depending on the blackjack variant, the dealer is allowed or not to peek for blackjack. Last but not least, in blackjack, the dealer has one face-up card and one face-down.
Whenever you have a total of between 18 and 21, you should stand regardless if the total cards are 2, 3 or 4. If you have a total of 10 or 11, double down. Players should double down a total of 15 or 16, but if the total cards are 4; if they are 2 or 3 then they should stand. A player total of 12, 13 and 14 with total cards of 4 should also be doubled down, but it is better to hit if the total cards are 2 or 3.
While such strategies may come as somewhat confusing, there is a tip all pros have used back when getting started with blackjack, per say – they would play blackjack online for fun, during the whole day at a time, and use every strategy they have known, just as you could do with the ones listed above for Pontoon. Just find a fun play-money game and practice away.