Pontoon Blackjack Rules and Bonuses
Pontoon Blackjack is a British-style version of Blackjack that is now available at practically all of the online casinos (what Australians call a Pontoon usually refers to a game, called a Spanish 21 by most). Though Pontoon Blackjack is a lot similar to traditional Blackjack, it still differs in some aspects.
The goal of player in Pontoon Blackjack remains the same, to beat the dealer's hand not going over 21.
Pontoon Blackjack is played with 8 decks of 52 cards. All the values of the cards correspond to traditional Blackjack ( 2♣ 3♦ 4♠ 5♥ 6♣ 7♦ 8♠ 9♥ 10♣ 2-10 as numbered, J♦ Q♥ K♠ face cards - 10 points, A♣ Ace - 1 or 11) The players place the bets; the dealer starts to deal the cards - 2 to each player, including himself. That's when the first difference appears- both dealer's cards are dealt face down (it is considered to be good in learning the strategy of the Pontoon Blackjack, because no up-card can influence on your decision).
NOTE: in some versions of Pontoon Blackjack, dealer's second card is dealt only afterwards, thus providing the players an opportunity to draw to 21 and win against dealer's natural.
Terminology of Pontoon Blackjack
Regular options in Pontoon Blackjack are named differently.
- To "TWIST" means to hit (take another card).
It is advised that the Pontoon Blackjack player should twist on any hand that is less than 15 (unless his hand is a hand of 5 cards).
- To "STICK" corresponds to Stand (take no more cards)
- To "BUY" means to double down, with a slight difference, that is in favour of a player:
- You can buy on any hand from 2 to 4 cards;
- You can twist after you buy (which is not allowed in traditional Blackjack).
- Any Ace and 10-value A♦ 10♠ card combination is called a PONTOON rather than a blackjack.
Pontoon Blackjack Rules (difference with Blackjack)
- In Pontoon Blackjack you may split any two 10-value cards (e.g. a Jack and a King J♣ K♦), and if you split tens and draw an Ace, or if you split Aces and draw a ten, it counts as a Pontoon, and pays out 2-to-1 (in regular Blackjack it is counted simply as a total 21). You are not allowed to draw after you split the Aces (you get only one card per Ace A♥ and stand).
- The second difference is that in Pontoon Blackjack, when a tie, the dealer wins instead of a "push".
- The third, and probably the most interesting point is that in Pontoon Blackjack any 5-card combination 2♣ 3♦ 4♠ 5♥ 6♠ that is not a bust is called a "FIVE CARD TRICK" and is paid of 2-to-1, it doesn't beat a pontoon, but it beats all the rest card combinations.
- Doubling is allowed only once per hand, but the player can double on any hand between 2 to 4 cards. It is worth mentioning that in a pre-doubled hand an Ace is always counted as 1, rather than 11. That is why doubling on soft hands is highly inadvisable.
- Dealer hits on soft 17.
- Surrendering is allowed only against the dealer's Ace or face-card.
If the player in Pontoon Blackjack is applying the perfect strategy, the house edge is only 0.39%. It is due to the 2-to-1 payoffs on a five-card trick.
After all the hands are played, the dealer reveals his cards (of course he checks his cards for a pontoon beforehand), and after the dealer's and the players' cards are compared, player's pontoon or 5 card trick pays 2-to-1, while other winning hands are paid even money, and ties lose.
In Pontoon Blackjack, the more decks of cards are used, the lower the casino's edge is. This is true because of the 5-card trick. The more decks, the easier it is to play a five-card trick.
NB: Please note, that all the rules provided above are general, and may differ from one casino to another. To avoid any misunderstandings please bother to read rules on a site you are playing at or ask the dealer in the casino before the play.
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“Remember this: The house doesn't beat the player. It just gives him the opportunity to beat himself”
Nicholas (Nick the Greek) Dandalos