Pontoon Card Game Online
Recently updated on January 31st, 2023
Pontoon is one of the many exciting variations of the popular table game, blackjack. The game has a few distinct rules and features that make it different from playing blackjack the traditional way.
If you would like to know more about this version of the game, and how it works then you’ve come to the right place. This dedicated Pontoon guide is perfect for new players, as well as those just wanting to brush up on their knowledge of the game.
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Pontoon vs Blackjack
Pontoon might be a very close cousin of blackjack, and there may be blatant similarities between the two. But, you must be able to tell them apart if you want to play the game correctly. Here are some of the differences in gameplay between pontoon and traditional blackjack. You’ll notice that the major differences between the two games have a lot more to do with a change in terminology than anything else.
In Pontoon, if you would like to get another card, this is referred to as “twist”. And, if you’ve played traditional blackjack before, the corresponding term here is “hit”. Similarly, if you do not want to receive another card, we call it “stick”. You’ll remember from playing classic blackjack that the corresponding term for this is “stand”. Doubling down in Pontoon is called “buy”.
Pontoon also has unique rules when it comes to doubling down, strategy and ties. In Pontoon, you are allowed to double down before hitting. The game also allows you to double down with a hand that has more than two cards. In the traditional blackjack, doubling down is only allowed with your initial two cards.
The optimal strategy in classic games usually states that you must hit on a total of 8, although the option to stand is open. In contrast, Pontoon rules state that all players must hit on a total of 14 or less.
In the traditional blackjack, a tie between the house and the player is called a push and in this case, all bets are returned and a new round begins. In Pontoon, ties favour the house. This means that even if you achieve a hand of 21 if the dealer does too, the dealer wins. Pontoons – which is a hand that consist of an ace and any 10-value card pays 2:1, which is less favourable than a natural blackjack which pays 3:2. This somewhat accounts for the added house advantage found in Pontoon.
One of the unique features in Pontoon is called The Five Card Trick and this isn’t a feature commonly found in traditional blackjack. Five Card Trick simply offers players an alternative way to win in the game. The clue is in the name, for this winning hand, you must collect a five-card hand that equals 2 or less. This five-card hand pays 2:1 and surprisingly beats a natural Pontoon hand that consists of two cards with one being an ace and the other any 10-value card.
A typical game of Pontoon uses about 4 to 8 Spanish card decks and each deck has 52 cards in it. Here are some of the rules that control how the game is played.
- The dealer or house must twist (hit) on a total of 17.
- Splitting or doubling down with aces is allowed.
How the game goes is fairly easy to understand, and even if it does get a bit confusing at the beginning, you will quickly get the hang of it the more you play. Follow our simple steps to get started.
- The game begins with all players making their bets.
- This is followed by the dealing of cards. The dealer will receive its cards first and both cards are dealt face down. You’ll notice this is different from traditional blackjack where one card is placed face up. Players will receive their initial two cards thereafter.
- If at this stage the dealer has Pontoon, the house will win and all player bets will be collected as house profit.
- If the house does not have Pontoon then the game will proceed and players will now have the chance to twist, otherwise known as “hit”.
- If after twisting you end up with a hand valued at 15 or over, you are allowed to stick (stand) at this point. If the dealer twists too and he goes bust, your 15 will be the best hand in the round which means you win.
- But, if you decide to twist again instead of sticking on a total of 15, you may do so. In fact, you will be allowed to twist a couple more times provided your overall total doesn’t exceed 21.
- If after twisting a couple more times you end up with a five-card hand that equals 21, you will win via Five Card Trick.
- If it happens that after five cards you still don’t have a total of 21, you will be allowed to buy cards, otherwise known as doubling down. This will involve making an additional bet in exchange for one more card.
Now, there are a number of differences between classic blackjack and Pontoon so how does this affect the house edge and subsequently, your chances of winning? The house in Pontoon is a low 0.5%. But, when you win via the Five Card Trick the house edge jumps to 0,39%. The house edge in classic blackjack games is also 0.5% but this may depend on the online casino you are playing at.
Pontoon Blackjack FAQs
A pontoon refers to any 2-card hand that has an ace and any 10-point card in it. It is the best possible hand, and quickest way to an actual payout.
We’ve detailed how to play Pontoon in our guide above. For the most part the gameplay flows similar to classic blackjack, with the exception of a few non-negotiable rules.
Many people have their own versions about the origins of the game, and its still unclear which one is true. But, our sources say that the name came from a soldier who fought during the British World War 1.
Pontoon is played with on standard pack of cards, excluding the jokers. Aces carry a value of 1 or 11 while picture cards, namely K.Q and Jack carry a value of 10. All other cards carry face value. The aim is to build a hand that equals to 21.
The rules of the game is straightforward. You can read our guide above for more information about the rules of the game and how to play.
No, five card trick beats pontoon and we’ve explained how and why that’s the case above.