How to play Pontoon

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If you’re unsure of what pontoon is it’s basically a blackjack variant with less rigid rules. Pontoon is a popular card game, especially at Australian brick-and-mortar casinos and virtual casinos. In pontoon there are no steadfast rules, often the rules of pontoon vary a little from casino to casino. The flexibility and variability of the game is what draws many punters to pontoon. Here’s more on how to play, the history of the game and the best places to play.

Rules of Pontoon

Pontoon has more than two players and a single deck of cards. In online versions of the game you can often play three hands against the dealer at once.

Play online Pontoon The game plays out somewhat like blackjack. Before the game you place your bets that your hand will beat the dealer’s. Cards have the same values as they do in blackjack; the Ace can be worth one point or 11, face cards are worth 10 points and any numbered cards are worth their number value.

To start the game the dealer deals each player just one card. The player then has the opportunity to increase their bets. In pontoon you don’t get to see the dealer’s hand until the very end of the game, so when you’re making your bets you don’t know what you’re up against.

The dealer then deals out the player’s second cards. The dealer then goes through each hand with the player. The player has the following options; ‘Twist’ for an additional card, ‘Stick’ to receive now extra cards, ‘Split’ to split the cards or ‘Buy’ to double your initial bets if you’re feeling good about your hand. The dealer is then dealt two cards and the game unfolds. In pontoon you are allowed to split hands if you are dealt two of the same card.

Remember each hand is only played against the dealer. In online pontoon this means that if you’re playing multiple hands at once you can have multiple wins against the dealer.

Here is how hands are ranked in pontoon:

  • A ‘Pontoon Hand’ is the highest ranked hand in the game. This is when you have two cards totalling 21 points exactly.
  • ’Five Card Trick’ is the second best hand you can land in pontoon. This is when you have five cards that equal 21 or less. Some pontoon variants will give you a higher payout if you get a Pontoon Hand or a Five Card Trick.
  • Aside from these two trick hands you’re simply looking to have the hand that is closest to 21 points. In pontoon you still bust when your hand goes over 21 points.
  • If the dealer and you have the same worth in your hand the dealer wins.

The History Of Pontoon

Not surprisingly, pontoon derives from the originally French game of 21, also known as blackjack. It’s a British version of the blackjack that became popular in the 20th Century among the British armed forces. Eventually it spread to other English speaking nations. Now pontoon is certainly not played as often as regular blackjack but most Australian brick-and-mortar casinos will have a pontoon table and major Web casinos will often have more than one pontoon variant on their site.

How Is It Different To Blackjack

The format of pontoon is very similar to blackjack but there are some key differences between the games:

  • In blackjack when you win your bets are doubled and that is your winnings. This is the same in pontoon, except if you have a Pontoon Hand or a Five Card Trick in which case what you would have won is doubled.
  • At the beginning of a game of pontoon the dealer’s cards are both face down – you have no idea what you’re up against. In blackjack you can usually see what one of the dealer’s cards are.
  • Pontoon usually let’s you split your aces twice if you wish, whereas in blackjack you can only do so once.
  • In pontoon the number of cards in your hand can better the rank of your hand even if you have the same total. While it’s better to be closer to 21 than the dealer, you can beat the dealer if you have the same point value but you have more cards than the dealer.
  • At some venues you can elect to have two entirely new cards if your first two cards add up to 14 (though this rule is not in place everywhere). As a general rule though the rules of pontoon are more diverse and less rigid than blackjack.