Pontoon Blackjack Rules

Pontoon card game is a British version of the traditional blackjack that is also very popular at all online and land casinos. Please note, that Australian Pontoon is most of the time the game called Spanish 21, which is different from the game we are going to describe here.

The aim of any player at Pontoon blackjack is to beat the dealer with a hand that does not go over 21.

The game is played with 8 decks of 52 cards. The card values do not differ from traditional blackjack (2-10 are valued as numbered, Face Cards have the value of 10, an Ace has the value of 1 or 11).  Players make the bets and the dealer deals the cards. Each player is dealt two cards face up, while the dealer also gets two cards but they BOTH are face down. This is the main difference between Pontoon and traditional blackjack and according to this difference player makes a decision basing on his cards only.

Note: In some Pontoon blackjack versions dealer’s second card is dealt only after all players have played their hands, which gives a chance to hit until 21 and win even if the dealer has a Natural.

In Pontoon you can Twist, Stick and Buy instead of Hitting, Standing and Doubling Down.

Pontoon Terms

Regular player options in Pontoon have other names than in classic blackjack.

  • "Twist" — Hit (ask for another card).
    In Pontoon you are to Twist if your hand is less than 15 (unless your hand is a 5 card one).
  • "Stick" — Stand (stop and ask for no more cards)
  • "Buy" — Double down, with a small difference, that favours the player:
    • Player can Buy on any hand which is of 2 to 4 cards;
    • Player can Twist after he Buys (not met in traditional blackjack).
  • A hand of an Ace and 10-value card is a Pontoon not a blackjack.

Rules of Pontoon (how it is different from blackjack)

  1. Pontoon allows you to split all Ten valued cards even if it is Jack and King etc. A combination of Ace and ten even after a Split is counted as a Pontoon and pays out 2 to 1. If you split Aces you get only one card per hand and can not Draw.
  2. In case of a tie (dealer and a player have the equal amount) the dealer wins instead of a push.
  3. Any 5 card hand that does not bust is called a "Five Card Trick" and pays 2 to 1. This hand does not beat a Pontoon but beats all the other hands.
  4. You can double only one time per each hand, but the hand of 2-4 cards. In a hand before doubling an Ace counts as 1 that is why players are not advised to double on soft hands.
  5. Dealer hits on soft 17 (Ace and 6).
  6. Player can surrender only if the dealer has an Ace or a Face card.

The use of perfect strategy in the game reduces house edge to 0.39%. This is so low because of a 5-card trick.

As soon as players have played their hands, dealer reveals his cards. The Pontoon is checked beforehand. In case the player has a pontoon or a 5-card trick hand, he is paid 2 to 1, other hands are paid even money, and ties lose.

In Pontoon, the more decks are used, the lower the house edge is. This is because of a 5-card trick, which becomes more possible with more decks of cards.

Make sure you checked the rules of Pontoon at the casino you have decided to play as rules may be a bit different.

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