How To Play
Pontoon is very much like Blackjack but there are some important differences:
- There are two hands that beat a regular 21: Pontoon (an ace and a ten or picture card) and Five Card Trick (when the player holds five cards without busting, no matter what the total value of the hand is). Both hands pay 2 to 1.
- Both the dealer’s cards are face down until the player stands or busts.
- There is no insurance option.
- In case of a tie, the dealer wins.
- At the beginning of a hand, the dealer will check his cards. If the dealer has a Pontoon, the dealer’s cards will be turned over right away and the player will lose his bet.
- The player cannot stand until they have a hand of at least 15.
- The player can draw as many cards as they like after they double.
- If you get an ace and a ten or a picture card in your split hand, it counts as Pontoon
In all other ways, Pontoon is virtually the same as Blackjack. It is played with eight decks of cards that are returned to the deck after each round and the deck is then shuffled. The aim of the game is to put together a hand of cards that is as close to 21 in value as possible, but without exceeding 21, which is known as going bust. The numbered cards are worth their face values, the face cards (Jack, Queen and King) are all worth 10, and Aces are worth 1 or 11. This means that you can make 21 with just two cards, a ten card and an Ace. This is called Pontoon and it is the strongest possible hand. At the start of a round, you need to bet on each hand position that you wish to play. It is possible to play anything from one to five hands per round. After placing your bets click on ‘Deal’ and you will receive two face-up cards to each active hand position and the dealer will receive one face-up card and one facedown. You will then have a few basic options for each hand. If the hand is worth 15 or more then you are offered ‘Hit’, ‘Stand’ and ‘Double’. If your hand is worth less than 15 then you must ‘Hit’ or ‘Double’. You should choose ‘Hit’ if you want to receive another card to the hand, as long as it doesn’t send you bust then you will have the chance to draw another card. Choose ‘Stand’ if you are happy with the hand and want to leave it as it is. Choose ‘Double’ to double your bet and receive another card. The dealer will always hit on 16 and Soft 17, a hand is considered Soft if it contains an Ace. The dealer will then stand as soon as his hand is a Hard 17 or higher (a hand is Hard if it does not contain an Ace).
There are only a few types of payouts in Pontoon. A winning hand is paid out at 1:1 with the exception of a Five Card Trick and Pontoon. Both of these hands payout at 2:1 and they will beat all other hands (Pontoon ranks above a Five Card Trick). It is worth remembering that unlike Blackjack in the event of a tie the dealer always wins so the player receives no payout. The hand rankings in Pontoon are very simple to remember. Pontoon is the strongest hand and beats all others; it is followed by a Five Card Trick then a hand of 21 and finally a High Card Total (the most valuable hand on the table worth less than 21).