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Pontoon Rules and Strategy Explained

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Pontoon is the British version of what many know as Blackjack. Blackjack itself has many variants but the main rules and gameplay are always the same. This is why many people prefer to play Blackjack instead of games like Poker or Slots. Poker has too many rule changes and slots only have different themes. Even though Pontoon is almost the same as Blackjack, there are still different rules, ways to play, and a strategy involved.

Pontoon Rules, What Happens During a Round, and Ways to Win

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When a Pontoon game starts, the player gets to decide how much he or she is willing to bet. After the betting phase, 2 cards will be dealt to the dealer and to the other person playing. This is the same as in Blackjack, but in Pontoon the dealer does not show either of his cards and if he has what is called a “Pontoon Hand” (Ace and a card worth 10 points such as a 10, Jack, Queen, or King) then the game is over and he automatically wins.

As a part of the basic Pontoon rules, the player is allowed to call until he “busts” (When the amount goes over 21. The player always gets to finish his turn first before the dealer goes, but neither one shows off their cards until both are finished. Whoever is closest to 21 is of course the winner and they collect the money from the table.

There is a rule that is unique to Pontoon that states that a player must act on their hand if it equals 14 or less. This means that they have to hit, double, or split. If the value of the cards is 15 or more, the player can choose to do as they please. Just like the player, the dealer has rules they must abide by in Pontoon. They must stand when they have an 18 or more and must hit on a 17 or below.

If the player wants to try to win more money than they initially bet, they can “double down” which means that they can throw in double the chips and get one more card which could make or break the win. Another way to win more is by “splitting” if the cards are the same value (like 8 and 8). After splitting, the player can then decide if they want to hit, stay, or double down. The only set back to doubling down is the fact that it can only be done once per hand.

After the Hand/Round

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When the hand ends, the people involved may be wondering who wins. This is a simple part to figure out. According to Pontoon rules, if the player and the dealer “push” (both hands are tied, like 18 and 18), the dealer automatically wins. If the player ends up with 5 cards in total and the dealer does not have a “Pontoon Hand”, the player will win double.

Pontoon Strategy

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Everyone’s strategy for how they play Pontoon may be different, but many agree that it is best to hit when the value is in the lower teens, stay when it is in the higher teens, and double down when the number is 10 or 11. Lower numbers should be hit on until they reach close to 21. A good thing to keep in mind is that how to play Pontoon online is the same as offline and playing online may be a better option.

Andy Cunoi

Andy is a common guy with an uncommon passion for blackjack. Currently he lives in San Francisco, California. Andy enjoys writing about gambling. Loves a simple life and his writing reflects that. He also enjoys music festivals a lot.