Best Blackjack and Pontoon Strategies by expert gamer Henry Tamburin to play the card games

Best card game strategy

If you are looking for some of the best strategies from Pontoon and Blackjack experts then we bring here to you some of the well known tips to play these card games by gaming expert Henry Tamburin who is himself a world class player. He is also the author of the Ultimate Blackjack Strategy Guide, and Blackjack: Take The Money and Run. He edited the monthly Blackjack Insider Newsletter, and was a featured blackjack columnist for Casino Player magazine, Midwest Gaming and Travel magazine, Gaming South magazine, Southern Gaming magazine, New England Gaming News, Jackpot, Bingo Bugle, and Casino City Times.

Here are some of the best Blackjack and Pontoon Strategies advised by him for the players of card games of Pontoon and Blackjack

Pontoon strategy

  • Always Double Down on a Hard 11: You’ll always win more money if you double down on hard 11 against any dealer’s upcard vs. hitting in all games, with one exception. If you are playing a multi-deck game where the rules specify the dealer must stand on soft 17, you are slightly better off hitting against a dealer Ace rather than doubling down.
  • Always split a pair of 8s and Aces: You should always split a pair of 8s and Aces regardless of what the dealer’s upcard is. You are less of an underdog by playing two hands, each starting with an 8 (by splitting), than you are playing one hand of 16 (and hitting). In other words, you will lose less money in the long run by splitting 8s against a 9, 10, or Ace than by hitting hard 16. Bottom line: Always splitting 8s and Aces is your best strategy because in the case of Aces, it results in significant gains for the player; and for 8s, it will, based on the dealer’s upcard, allow you to cut your losses or win more money. But if surrender is offered and you are playing in a multi-deck game where dealer must hit 17, or a double-deck game with dealer must hit 17 and where Doubling down after pair splitting is not allowed, your best strategy is to surrender the pair of 8s vs. the dealer’s Ace rather than splitting them.)
  • Never split a pair of 5s or tens: A pair of 5s is also a hard 10 and you are always better off taking a one-or-more-card draw to a 10 than splitting the 5s and playing two hands, each starting with a 5. Even though splitting 10s is much more often than not a winning play, keeping them together as 20 is an even greater winning play in all circumstances.
  • Always hit a hard 12 against a dealer’s or 3 upcard: Note that against a dealer’s 2 or 3 upcard, you will lose money in the long run whether you stand or hit; however, you will lose less money by hitting (even at the risk of busting some of the time), which is why it is the best strategy.
  • Always hit Ace 7 when the dealer’s upcard is 9, 10 or Ace: Note that when you hold an A-7 against dealer’s 9, 10, or Ace, you are the underdog whether you stand or hit; however, you are less of an underdog if you hit A-7. This is because if you draw a small card (e.g., Ace, 2, or 3) you will end up with a pat hand that’s higher than 18, which will improve your chances of winning at blackjack. Also if you draw any of the four ten-valued cards, you do no harm to the hand.  Bottom line: Your best strategy is to always hit A-7 when the dealer shows a 9, 10, or Ace with a goal of getting to either a soft 19–21 or a hard 17 through 21.
  • Always double down on 10 when the dealer’s upcard in 9 or less: You are the favorite when you hold a two-card 10 against any dealer’s upcard of 9 or less, which is why doubling down is your best strategy. It’s a simple rule to remember: always double down on 10 when the dealer’s upcard is 9 or less.
  • Always double down A-2 through A-7 when the dealer’s upcard is A5 or 6: In all games, you stand to win more if you always double down an A-2 through A-7 (i.e., soft 13 through 18) when the dealer’s upcard is a 5 or 6, making it the best strategy.The range of dealer’s upcards where you should double down with soft 13 through 18 varies depending upon the number of decks being used and the playing rules.
  • Always stand with a pair of 9s when the dealer’s upcard is a 7: Most players know to split a pair of 9s when the dealer’s upcard is 9 or less.  Where they fumble the ball is when the dealer shows a 7. In this case, your best strategy is to stand because you’ll win slightly more money than splitting. One way to remember this best strategy is as follows. There is a good chance that the dealer will have a ten in the hole since there are four times as many ten-value cards in a deck than other ranks. Therefore, when the dealer’s upcard is a 7, she often has a pat 17. Your pair of 9s, which is an 18, would beat her potential 17, which makes standing the better play vs. hitting.
  • Always surrender hard 16 against a dealer’s 9, 10 or Ace upcard and hard 15 against dealer’s 10 upcard: A hard 15 and 16 are two of the worst hands in blackjack especially when the dealer is showing a strong upcard (e.g., 9, 10, or Ace). You are the underdog but you can minimize your losses by surrendering the above hands against the indicated dealer’s upcards. Surrender is your best strategy simply because it saves you money in the long run.
  • Never make the insurance bet: The insurance bet is a sucker bet, which is why your best strategy is to not take insurance when the dealer’s upcard is an Ace. Yes, even when you are dealt a good hand (like a 19 or 20), don’t make the insurance bet. The reason is because the payoff for the insurance bet (2 to 1) is less than the odds that the dealer will have a blackjack, making it a sucker bet. In most casinos, the dealer will offer you “even money” if you have a blackjack hand and she has an Ace upcard, which is the same as making an insurance bet. When you have a blackjack, it’s tempting to get paid even money before she peeks at her down card; however, don’t do it because in the long run you will win more money by declining the even money payoff.
  • Stand on hard 16 against dealer’s upcard if your 16 is multi card: The traditional blackjack basic strategy takes into account only the total of the player’s hand and the dealer’s upcard. With a hard 16 against a dealer’s 10 upcard, the strategy states to hit (assuming surrender is not offered). Although this strategy is correct, you can improve your playing accuracy by taking into account whether your 16 is a multi-card 16. In the latter case (e.g., 7-5-4), your best strategy is to stand against a dealer’s 10 upcard.
  • Never play a 6 to 5 Blackjack game: Traditionally blackjack hand has always been paid at 3 to 2 odds. Like, if you bet $10 and you have an (untied) blackjack, you will be paid $15 in winnings. Nowadays, many casinos pay a winning player’s blackjack at only 6 to 5 odds. (A $10 wager would win you only $12 in a 6 to 5 game.) The house edge increases by about 1.45% in a single-deck game with 6 to 5; moreover, if 6 to 5 is offered in a double- or multi-deck game, the house edge escalates to greater than 2%. Your best strategy is to play only blackjack games that offer a 3 to 2 blackjack payoff.