Pontoon is very similar to blackjack in nature, yet there are also some big
differences which make this game unique. First and foremost, the game becomes
more interesting by using 8 full decks of cards. Like blackjack, the aim is to
get as close to 21 as possible without going bust. Your hand has to be closer to
21 than the dealer's in order to win.
Each player, as well as the dealer, starts with two cards face-down. You then
have the choice of hitting, standing, splitting or doubling - just like
blackjack. However, you have to hit if you are sitting with cards to the value
of less than 15.
This is how Pontoon differs to blackjack:
- There are two hands that can beat a dealer's regular 21 - Pontoon, which
is an Ace and a ten-value card (10/J/Q/K) and a Five Card Trick, when you
are sitting with 5 cards under (and including) 21.
- Unlike blackjack, Pontoon does not allow players to take any insurance
at any stage of the game.
- If you decide to double, you can still hit as many cards as you like
until you are satisfied with your hand.
- You are not allowed to stand if you have less than 15.
- Players do not see any of the dealer's cards until it is the dealer's
turn to play.
- In blackjack, a tied hand with the dealer means that you get to keep
your bet - in Pontoon it means that you lose.
- The dealer is allowed to check his/her cards at the start of the hand to
see if he/she has Pontoon - if this is the case then the hand stops right
there and the dealer collects all the bets.
- You are allowed to split cards of the same value, even if they are not
the same card (Kings and Queens, for example).
- Your hand is eligible for Pontoon even after you split your cards.
In Pontoon, both the Five Card Trick and Pontoon will pay out 2:1. However,
the dealer will beat any hand (including a Five Card Trick) with a Pontoon. The
other hands are according to blackjack rules, with a winning hand being closer
to 21 than the dealer. This will pay out 1:1. If you go bust, you will lose your
entire bet. This is especially harsh if you lose on both splits or doubling up.
Online Pontoon is one of the more popular variations of blackjack-type games
and attracts hundreds of thousands of players from around the world. If you are
familiar with blackjack, then you should be able to grasp the rules of Pontoon
quite quickly and adapt your style of play without too many hassles.