The game of pontoon is a classic British card game that’s been around for centuries and is still popular today in casinos around the world. But don’t let its age fool you — pontoon offers a unique twist on traditional blackjack to add some variety to your usual online casino table games. This guide will take you through everything you need to know to start playing the card game of pontoon like a pro.
The Basics of Pontoon
Like many casino games online, pontoon is played with a standard 52-card deck and can accommodate up to eight players. Each player competes against the dealer, trying to get closer to 21 points without going over.
The game begins with each player placing their bet on the designated betting area. The dealer then deals two cards to each player, including themselves. All players’ cards are dealt face-down, while the dealer’s first card is dealt face-up.
The card values in pontoon are similar to blackjack except for one crucial difference — an ace counts as 1 instead of 1 or 11. This means that the highest hand possible is a pontoon (a two-card hand with an ace and a face card) instead of a blackjack (any 10-value card and an ace).
All other cards retain their face value and face cards are worth 10 points each.
How To Play Pontoon
Whether playing pontoon live or at an online casinos after receiving your initial two cards, players have several options to choose from:
- Hit: Ask for another card to improve your hand.
- Stand: Keep your current hand and end your turn.
- Double Down: Double your initial bet, receive one more card, and automatically stand.
- Split: If dealt two cards of the same value, players can split them into two separate hands and play each hand as usual (with an additional bet).
- Buy: Similar to doubling down, but players can buy additional cards even after a double down.
Once all players have made their move, it’s the dealer’s turn. The dealer must hit on any hand with a total of 16 points or less and stand on any hand with a total of 17 points or more.
If the dealer’s hand is higher than the players’, the dealer wins and collects all bets. If a player’s hand is closer to 21, they win and receive an equal payout on their bet.
Tips and Strategies
While there is no guaranteed winning strategy in pontoon, there are some methods that can help improve your odds. Here are a few tips to help you do that.
Hit When You Have a Low Score
With the ace only counting as 1, it’s more likely for players to have a low score. In this case, hitting for another card can improve your chances of getting closer to 21.
Stand When You Have a High Score
If you have a hand of 17 or higher, it may be best to stand and let the dealer try their luck.
Consider the Dealer’s Upcard
If the dealer has a high upcard (7 to ace), it may be better to play more conservatively and stand on lower hands.
Be Cautious With Splitting
While splitting can potentially increase your chances of winning, it also means doubling your bet. Consider if the potential payout is worth the additional risk.s
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