Pontoon is a blackjack variant offered by most of the leading online gaming software providers including Playtech, Real Time Gaming and Microgaming and it is available to blackjack players everywhere including USA and Canadian blackjack sites.
Best Pontoon Sites
Pontoon refers to the normal blackjack hand of an ace and a 10 value card. The main difference in Pontoon, as compared to normal blackjack, is that both the dealer’s cards are dealt face down. This gives the player a disadvantage, which is compensated by a payout of 2 to 1 on a pontoon. Also any five card hand that has a value of 21 or less is paid out at 2 to 1. Some of the terms used in Pontoon are different. Asking for another card is ‘Twist”, not asking for another card is “Stick” and doubling the bet is “Buy”. Splitting a hand of two like cards is called “Split” as usual.
The sequence of the game play in Pontoon is as follows. The player places his wager. The dealer deals two cards face up to the player and two cards face down to himself. The dealer peeks at his cards to check for Pontoon. If he has a Pontoon he turns his cards face up and collects the player’s wager. If the dealer does not have a Pontoon the player makes his moves.
The player’s blackjack rules are described below. Most online casinos follow these rules, but players are advised to read the rules prevalent in the casino they are wagering in. The player has to twist on a value of 14 or less. He may twist or stick on a value of 15 or more.
The player may buy on 2 to 4 cards, but only once per hand. The player may buy after splitting and once for each split hand. The player may twist more than once after buying. The player may re-split once, up to a total of three hands, including aces. The two-card 21 after splitting aces counts as a pontoon. If the player busts he immediately loses his wager without the dealer having to play his hand.
After the player has made his moves the dealer first exposes his two cards. Then he continues twisting until he has a total of 17 points or more. The dealer however twists on a soft 17 in most online casinos. Also the dealer stops on any five-card hand if he has not busted. The hands are then compared. A winning player pontoon or five-card hand pays out at 2 to 1. All other player wins pay out at 1 to 1. The player loses ties.
Pontoon strategy is different from normal blackjack strategy. Normal blackjack strategy is dependent on the dealer’s face up card. Because both the dealer’s cards are dealt face down in Pontoon the players are forced to adopt a simpler strategy. Broadly players stick on totals of 15 or more. An important facet of Pontoon strategy is using the buy move at four card totals of 16 or less in the hope of getting a five card total of 21 or less, which pays out at 2 to 1. The house edge in Pontoon is usually around 0.5%.
Pontoon is quite popular in Spain, so check out our guide to European Blackjack.
Instructional Video on Playing Pontoon Online