Pontoon is the British variation of blackjack; it has gained a lot in popularity in gambling circles the past few years. It’s now offered by a variety of software providers, including Real Time Gaming, Microgaming, Vegas Technology and Wagerlogic.
Pontoon is played with eight standard fifty-two-card decks and all card values are the same as in traditional blackjack. Each player is dealt with two cards face up, while both of the dealer’s cards are dealt face down. As with blackjack players are trying to get a total card value of 21, or as close to 21 than the dealer without going over 21. Hands are ranked as follows:
Pontoon: An Ace and any 10-point card, including after splitting
Five-card trick: Any five-card hand that does not bust, irrespective of the total point value
21 points or less: Hands that have not been bust that value 21 points or less with four cards or less. Hand strength is equal to the number of points.
After all players have received cards, the dealer will check his cards for a pontoon. If the dealer holds a pontoon, he will expose his cards and collect all wagers and cards. If the dealer does not hold pontoon, play will then carry on according to the following set of rules:
- Players may stand on any five-card hand or on a total value that is greater or equal to 15.
- Players may hit at any time, even after doubling.
- Doubling is permitted on two to four cards, but only once per hand. That includes after splitting and once for each split hand.
- Players may split two cards of equal rank and may resplit once, up to a total of thee hands. When the players splits, the first card dealt to each hand shall be automatic.
- If a hand busts, the player will lose immediately.
- After players have played their hands, the dealer will display his two cards and will draw until their value totals 17 points or more or results in a five-card hand.
- The dealer hits a soft 17.
- The dealer will then compare his hand to each player’s hand and will pay winning pontoons and five-card hands 2 to 1 while all other winning hands will pay 1 to 1.
While Pontoon’s similarity to blackjack may entice some players into gambling right away, players must ensure that they understand the rules and variations of Pontoon. Also be sure to review the “Rules” section at online casinos you’re about to wager at.