Playing Online Pontoon

If you normally play online blackjack then pontoon could be a great new game to try if you want something similar to your favorite game but just a little different, if only to spice things up. All of the best US blackjack sites and online casinos will offer standard online and possibly mobile blackjack but they will also, more than likely, offer other blackjack variants, including pontoon. Here we take a closer look at pontoon, explaining how to play and in what ways it is similar to, and also different from, standard blackjack.

Before we look into the game, let us start by clarifying what we mean by pontoon, as in many countries the word usually refers to a game that is actually more like what we in the States call Spanish 21. All of these games are very similar and are linked through a common ancestor but when we refer to pontoon we mean the US version, as featured at real money USA casinos powered by RTG (Realtime Gaming) software.

As with blackjack, the aim of the game in pontoon is to beat the dealer by getting as close to 21 as possible without going over that total. So far, so similar. “Pontoon”, as with a natural blackjack, is the best possible hand and is formed by an ace with any card worth 10 to make 21. Pontoon pays out at odds of 2/1, as opposed to 3/2 to blackjack and the next best hand, a five card trick, also pays out at generous odds of 2/1.

A five card trick is any hand featuring five cards and staying under 22, with 21 the next best hand, followed by 20, 19 and so on, and anything over 21 being bust and thus automatically losing. There are various other minor rule differences between the two games but these result in perhaps the best thing about pontoon – it’s got a very low house edge.

The casino’s advantage over the player, dependent on the precise rules, is just 0.38%, making pontoon a great choice for those wanting to play for a long time. Note that tied hands are losers for the player in pontoon and they must twist, meaning take another card, on hands of 14 or below. The other big difference between blackjack and pontoon, played online or in a casino, is that the dealer’s two cards are both face down until the players have had their turns.

Pontoon really is great fun and with that big 2/1 payout, the possibility of a five card trick and a low house edge, why not give it a shot?

What is the House Edge at Blackjack?

Here we take a look at the house edge at online blackjack and consider why and how blackjack is somewhat different to a lot of other casino games when it comes to the house edge.

First off though, let’s explain what the house edge is. The house edge is the name given to the advantage the casino holds over the player, with every game designed to ensure that in the long term the casino wins and the player loses. Normal statistical variation – or luck if you prefer – means that the player can win in the short term but overall the house retains the advantage.

Roulette is perhaps the easiest game to use to illustrate this. A standard American roulette table has 36 numbers and two zeroes, for a total of 38 possible results. In a totally “fair” game with zero house edge the casino would pay a single number at odds of 37/1. You could bet $10 on every number, staking a total of $380 and whatever number came up you would get $370 for the win, plus your $10 stake back, thus breaking even.

However, the casino doesn’t pay at odds of 37/1 but at 35/1, meaning you would lose $20 from your $380. The house edge expresses the percentage of total stake the player will lose and so playing double zero roulette the house edge is 5.26%. The existence of the zeroes creates the house edge, or at least the odds that don’t reflect their existence do.

In blackjack things are slightly more complex because there are a huge range of rules and variations that impact on the house edge. What is so clever about the game of blackjack is that it’s created in such a way that despite all the different options and possibilities, the dealer, that is to say the house, always has a slight edge. The game is almost even but the house has the slightest of advantages that ensures their long term success.

Much of the advantage the dealer has in blackjack is that the player goes first and can bust, automatically losing their stake regardless of what the dealer does. However, all the intricacies of the game also contribute towards the house edge and the different rules you will find slightly alter the house edge.

For example, the more decks used, the greater the edge, such that a game with a single deck will usually have a house edge around 0.5%, whilst eight decks significantly increases that. Other rules, such as what value the player can double on, splitting rules, blackjack payouts and surrender terms also have an impact.

Regardless of all this, online blackjack remains one of the most competitive games when it comes to the house edge, making it a great option for the savvy casino fan.

Splitting at Blackjack

Whether you play online blackjack, in a traditional casino or even just with friends, knowing what call to make in any given situation automatically improves your odds of winning in the long term. Playing online blackjack should be fun but as with most gambling activities, much of the fun comes from winning, so you may as well give yourself the very best chance possible to do just that.

In order to reduce the house edge at real money blackjack to its theoretical minimum you should use basic strategy and one key element of that is knowing when to split and when not to split.

What is splitting?

Let’s start at the very beginning by explaining what we mean by splitting. Splitting is an option a player has when their first two cards are a pair, with anything from 2s to aces being “splittable”. When the player splits a pair they get a new card with each original card to create two new hands and they must bet the same stake on the second hand as they did originally, effectively doubling the overall bet.

When should I split?

The easiest thing to remember is to always split aces and eights no matter what. This is because splitting eights turns the worst hand, a 16, into two decent first cards, whilst splitting aces turns one average to poor hand into the best two cards possible, giving you a great chance of a big double stakes win.

There are lots of other times you should split too, with sevens a good example unless the dealer has an eight or above, whilst nines should be split unless the dealer has a seven, 10 or ace, in which case the player should stand. For full and thorough information you should consult a basic strategy chart that is applicable to the exact rules you are playing.

When shouldn’t I split?

In general you shouldn’t split when the dealer has a high card. If the dealer is showing an eight or higher the only cards you would split would be eights, nines and aces, subject to the exceptions listed above on nines.

However, the simplest rule regarding what not to hit is that you should NEVER split a pair of fives or a pair of 10s (or face cards). As before, for the fullest information on all possible splits, including re-splits, always consult a full and proper basic strategy chart based on the rules and number of decks relevant to the blackjack you’re playing.

Latest Blackjack News – May 2015

Blackjack is a global game and here we take a look at some of the biggest blackjack stories from around the world that have taken place in the last week or so. Some might be considered boring, as they relate to yet more legal changes in the USA but let’s start with a great story from the other side of the Atlantic.

Cab Driver Wins $137,000

A cab driver in England won a blackjack jackpot of almost £90,000 last week which equates to around $137,000! 53-year-old Goksel Selay was supposed to be working but as there were few people seeking his taxi (cab) services he popped into his local casino in Westcliff in south-east England.

The father of two won the huge payout via a progressive link game that connected 35 casinos in the UK and paid out the huge Blackjack Aces’ jackpot of £89,950 when Selay was dealt four aces.

The cab driver said “I don’t usually play blackjack as I prefer roulette. But I wasn’t having much luck there, so I decided to play blackjack instead, as I saw the jackpot was rising. A few days earlier, I had had a dream about winning big money and told my wife about it.”

From MIT to $50m

Jeff Ma, one of the key players on the infamous MIT blackjack team that took global casinos for millions of dollars through team card counting, has recently sold his startup tech firm, tenXer, to Twitter… for a cool $50m!

Ma, in part the inspiration for the movie 21, starring Kevin Spacey, has plenty of business interests and has also worked for the Portland Trail Blazers and the San Francisco 49ers. He wasn’t exactly short of cash but hey, an extra $50m always helps!

Florida Can’t Decide

The state of Florida recently voted in favor of making big changes to the current gambling laws but progress is being slowed by lawmakers adding countless provisions to amendments.

The changes seek to allow a whole slew of new resorts, as well as changing blackjack regulations, permitting slots in Palm Beach county and Lee and ending greyhound racing statewide. These laws and the various rights of the Seminole tribe to exclusively offer blackjack and slots now seem in danger of being postponed, meaning yet more confusion with US gambling legislation.

Blackjack Basics

Blackjack strategy can be a complex and confusing thing and if you don’t want to memorize all the intricacies of basic strategy, as well as masses of information on the best type of blackjack to play and what to do, our seven golden rules might be just what you need. These seven top blackjack tips are easy to remember and will massively improve your chances of making a profit from playing online blackjack.

1. Never Play at a Short Pay Table

Blackjack should always pay a natural 21, blackjack, at odds of 3/2. Any less than that, for example 6/5, and the house edge rises massively, meaning your chances of making a profit in the long term shrink significantly.

2. Choose a Good Blackjack Site

All the tips, tactics, strategy and even luck in the world won’t help you if you choose a bad online casino. All of the casinos we work with are safe, secure, offer good bonuses and welcome US players, handling both deposits and withdrawals quickly and efficiently.

3. Keep it Simple

As a general rule, the types of blackjack with the lowest house edge are the most basic ones so if you want to work through a bonus, play for a long time with minimal loss or hope to make long term profit avoid progressive blackjack games or those with added side bets or games.

4. If the Dealer is Showing a Seven Up Then Keep on Hitting

If the dealer has a seven, eight, nine, 10 or ace then keep hitting till you make at least 17 (or bust). You might think that standing on 16 or even 15 at least keeps you in the hand but in the long term it’s a losing ploy.

5. Always Split Eights

Always, always, always split eights, even to a dealer showing an ace. That’s all there is to say on this one!

6. Never Split 10s

Another simple rule. Even if the dealer is showing a six and you think you may have the opportunity to make some extra cash, you should never split 10s.

7. Never Take Insurance

We finish with a third simple rule: never, ever, take insurance as it’s a bad bet, regardless of the hand you have.

The Blackjack Hall of Fame

The Blackjack Hall of Fame is where we’d all like to end up but sadly winning a few hundred dollars at your local casino or favorite online site isn’t going to cut it I’m afraid. The Blackjack Hall of Fame, which was created as recently as 2002, honors only the great and the good of the game, with blackjack’s finest players, most innovative strategists and most illuminating writers earning their place in blackjack folklore by being inducted into the Hall of Fame.

If you want to check out who’s made it so far then you have two options: head to the Barona Casino in San Diego, CA, or, probably a little easier, keep on reading!Watch Full Movie Online Streaming Online and Download

One of the first people ever to gain an ever-lasting and fully inclusive comp from the Barona Casino (the prize granted to Hall of Fame inductees in exchange for agreeing never to darken the casino’s blackjack tables again!) was Al Francesco. Al was one of the seven inaugural inductees in 2002 and his role in developing the idea of team play in blackjack was what earned him his spot in history.

Another of the seven original members was Edward O. Thorp, who wrote the seminal piece on card counting, Beat the Dealer. The other five people inducted in 2002 were:

  • Stanford Wong – who “invented” the strategy of “Wonging”
  • Tommy Hyland – who was the manager of long-running blackjack team
  • Arnold Snyder – who was a former blackjack pro
  • Peter Griffin – who was the author of The Theory of Blackjack and an astounding mathematician
  • Ken Uston – who was born in New York to Austrian and Japanese parents Uston was crucial to the growth of team play and was the subject of a great documentary “The Blackjack Man”

Originally nominations for a place in the Hall of Fame was decided by a group of blackjack experts but since 2006 it has been the existing Hall of Famers who have made the decision on who to induct. As of 2015 there is a total of 23 Hall of Famers, one of the most famous additions being John Chang, added in 2007, for his role as manager of the infamous MIT blackjack team.

German Blackjack Player Fined $74,000

US players have long been wary of playing online blackjack or using online casinos, slots sites or poker sites but one German player has just fallen foul of the sometimes complex laws that can impact European players.

Many countries have laws clouded with grey areas and whilst US players are welcomed at all of the great casinos we feature here and can play with no trouble, luck ran out for a German blackjack player who saw himself hit with a huge fine.

A judge in Munich ruled that the UK site at which he played, which was licensed in Gibraltar, was illegal in Germany because playing games of chance that are not licensed in Germany is not permitted. The player, who was caught when police discovered a box of cash at his home, pleaded ignorance and said that he believed internet gambling to be legal having seen it advertised by tennis superstar Boris Becker at local soccer side Bayern Munich.

The judge clearly felt this was irrelevant and the unnamed man was hit with 70 fines, each of €30 and was also forced to suffer the pain of seeing more than €63,000 of blackjack winnings confiscated from him. An additional €10,000 of cash in the box was, so the man claimed, his mother’s, and escaped the confiscation order but even so, losing a total that is equivalent to around $74,000 has to be a pretty bad day at the blackjack tables for just about anyone.

Many US players feel they are the only ones for whom online gambling isn’t as easy as it should be and whilst some European countries, chiefly the UK, have very liberal gambling laws, it’s clear that it’s not just Americans for whom things aren’t always as straightforward as they should be.

The blackjack player in this case has lodged an appeal against the court’s decision and there seems to be a clear issue with his country’s law, that means it is fine to play at a bricks and mortar casino overseas but not fine to visit that same casino in a virtual sense. There are further complications surrounding Germany’s membership of the European Union and EU law and this debate looks set to continue in Germany.