Blackjack, Pontoon and Double Exposure

Published on: February 17, 2010 

Pontoon and Double Exposure are variants of blackjack that are related in an unusual manner. In normal blackjack games only one of the dealer's cards are dealt face up. In pontoon none of the dealer's cards are dealt face up, whereas in double exposure both the dealer's cards are dealt face up. This change has a significant impact in the strategy as well as the payouts.

In most normal variants of blackjack the dealer's first card is dealt face up and the second card is dealt face down. In some European variants of blackjack the second card is not dealt upfront at all. The important issue is that one and only one dealer card is dealt face up. That the player can see this card has a very important bearing on the blackjack strategy. If this card is an ace or a 10 value card then the dealer's position becomes a very strong and the player has to make defensive moves in the hope that the dealer busts. If the dealers face up card is a weak card like a three or a four then the player can move more aggressively. Payouts in normal variants of blackjack are even money for normal wins and 3 to 2 for blackjacks.

In Pontoon the player cannot see any of the dealer's cards. This puts him at a disadvantage as compared to normal blackjack. In normal blackjack if the player had a hand value of 13 then he would stand if the dealer had a low card from two to six and hit if the dealer had a high card from seven to ace. But in Pontoon the player cannot see the dealer's first card. Therefore he has to make his move without having the adequate information. This reduces his chances of winning when compared with normal blackjack. In order to compensate for this, blackjack, or pontoon as it is called in this game, pays out better at 2 to 1.

Double Exposure goes by different names in different online casinos. Some of the common names are Dealer Disclosure and Face Up 21. In this variant because the player can see both the cards of the dealer he is at an advantage. For example if the dealer has a nine and a seven that gives a total of 16, the player knows that the dealer will have to hit and has a high chance of busting. Therefore he need not take undue risks. Because of this the payouts have been tweaked in favor of the dealer. Blackjack pays only at even money like any other win.

Given the broad game rules and the payouts the question that arises is which of these three games gives a better chance to the player. In other words which of these three games has the lowest house edge? It is a difficult question to answer because there are variations in the other rules, such as of splitting and doubling, which result in a range of payouts for each of these three variants. House edges in blackjack can vary between 0% and 1.10%. House edges in Pontoon can vary between 0.35% and 0.5%. House edges in Double Exposure can vary between 0.25% and 1.5%. Therefore in order to make a correct evaluation players need to know the exact rules under which these games are played and the effect of the rules on the house edges.

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