Learn Microgaming’s Special Strategy for Pontoon
February 22, 2013
Pontoon is a blackjack variation that has special rules that might confuse blackjack players the first time they play it. However, the strategy for Pontoon is actually easier to learn than blackjack because there are fewer cases to memorize. Since five card hands that haven't busted are almost as powerful as pontoons (this game's version of a blackjack), the correct strategy takes into consideration how many cards you have in your hand. Because you can double at any point in a hand, though you can only do so once, there are a lot of really strong strategies that involve doubling with totals as high as 16. Microgaming has special rules in this game that include the dealer standing on soft totals of 17 and that split aces are just dealt a single card with no further action allowed. With perfect play, you can get the house advantage down to just 0.39 percent, so this is a good game to learn.
Hard totals make up most of your play. You're going to stand with all totals of 15 and up unless you have four cards. In this case, you'll hit a 17 and double with a 15 or 16. If you have four cards, you're always going to double with any other total. With three cards, you're going to hit every other total except for nine, ten and eleven. This is easy to remember because of how similar it is to blackjack. With two cards, you play exactly the same as with three cards except you don't double a nine.
With soft hands, it's a little complicated. You're always going to double with four-card hands. With three-card hands, you'll hit totals of seven or less and double totals of 19 and up. Again, you're going to play the exact same with two-card hands except you're going to stand with A-10, A-9 and A-8. This might seem anti-intuitive, but you have to remember that your advantage increases when you have more cards in your hand.
Finally, you need to know how to play paired starting hands. In this game, you should always hit paired aces. This is much different than blackjack. You should also split eights if you can, and stand otherwise. The aces rule is a bit tricky to remember if you play a lot of blackjack, but you have to remember that the number of cards that you can have is a dominating factor in this game since you can only be beaten by a pontoon if you make it to five.