Blackjack is one of the most popular casino games that continue attracting gamblers’ attention. It is a game that is played in a wide array of web-based and brick-and-mortar casinos all over the globe. In fact, it has numerous variations that also enjoy great popularity among players. Gamblers are now given the opportunity to find the option that best suits their preferences and even to experience the traditional blackjack game in an entirely new way as software providers have created various titles that can be accessed even from our mobile phones, thus giving us the desired freedom.
Pontoon is one of the most well-known blackjack variations that definitely enjoy great popularity among players. It will undoubtedly attract Blackjack lovers’ attention as the game features some really appealing twists that will provide them with an extremely exciting gaming experience.
What Is Pontoon
If you have been to a casino in Australia or in the UK, you have probably come across this game. Players need to know that there are two games that share the name Pontoon but their rules do not coincide. Australian Pontoon is also played in various casinos in Singapore and Malaysia and to a certain extent resembles the Spanish 21 as the tens are removed from the deck. When it comes to the British Pontoon, its rules are closer to the rules of the traditional blackjack where full decks are used. Both of these versions have their distinctive features that enable players to enjoy one of the classic casino games in a different way.
In fact, Pontoon is considered to be a British version of blackjack that has managed to become one of the most popular and widespread variation of this classic casino game. Still, what sets Pontoon apart from blackjack is that it does not have official rules so they may vary from one casino to another.
What is Difference between Pontoon and Blackjack
First, we need to mention that both of the games have the same objective of getting as close to 21 as possible without exceeding it. What is more, the value of the cards coincides as well.
Still, there are certain differences between the games that need to be taken into consideration before starting to play. The first difference between the games is that in blackjack a “hit” will mean that you want an additional card, whereas in Pontoon this action is called “twist”. The “stand” in blackjack is known as a “stick” in Pontoon. When a player’s hand totals 21 and one of the cards is an Ace, the player has a Pontoon. While playing Pontoon, gamblers are given an additional option to win which known as a five card trick. Here, players need a hand that consists of five cards and their total should be 21 or less. The payout for an Ace and a 10-valued card is 2/1, for the rest of the winning hands, the payout is 1/1.
Just like in blackjack, in Pontoon the player who gets closer to 21 than the dealer wins. Hands that consist of three or four cards totaling 21 beat every hand with the exception of a Pontoon and the five-card trick and pay even money. If a player has a hand that consist of two, three or four cards and their total does not exceed 21, this hand beats hands that have lower total. Still, this hand will not beat the five-card trick.
One more major difference between the two games is that in blackjack players see at least one of the dealer’s cards prior to making a decision. Yet, while playing Pontoon gamblers are not given that option. Here, both of the cards the dealer has are face down. This detail can definitely influence the course of the game as the decisions players make will be based solely on the cards they have.
How to Play Pontoon
The game starts with the dealing of the cards. As previously noted, both of the cards the dealer has a face down and players are cannot see them. If the dealer has a Pontoon which is an Ace and a card that gives ten points, then the bets of the players are taken. If the dealer does not have a Pontoon, gamblers can buy cards in order to improve their hands.
If the total of your cards is 15 or more, you can say “stick” which will mean that you do not want an additional card. If the dealers go busted or your hand has a higher value than the dealer’s this means that you win.
When the total of your cards does not exceed 21, the other option you have is to say “twist”. This will mean that you want an additional card that will be dealt face up and if the total of your cards is still less than 21, you can twist one or two more cards. If the total of your hand is 21 or less after five more cards have been dealt, this means that you have a five-card trick.
When the total of your hand does not exceed 21, you are also given the option to buy cards. This means that your bet will be doubled and you will take a “twist” at the same time. Then, the dealer will give you one more card.
It should be noted that in Pontoon a hand is valid when its total is 15 or more. This, on the other hand, means that even though you get an additional card after you have split Aces, you will be given one more card if the total of the hand is less than 15.
In Pontoon the number of the cards is also important. If you and the dealer have hands totaling 21 but you are holding five cards, whereas the dealer is holding four cards, you will win simply because it is more difficult to get five cards without exceeding 21.
In Pontoon the dealers do not have a hole card, meaning that players cannot decide whether dealers will have a natural Pontoon until they draw a second card. Hence, gamblers can double and split but what happens if the dealer has a Pontoon depends on the rules the casino you have chosen applies. Still, these are the most widespread rules you can come across.
According to Original and Busted Bets Only(OBBO), if the dealer has a Pontoon, the player will lose all the busted hands and an amount that is as big as the amount of each of the bets the player has made per hand. If the dealer has Pontoon and you have not split, you will lose only one bet. If you have doubled down, however, a penalty will not be taken.
Under the rule of the Busted Bets Plus One(BB+1), if the dealer has a Pontoon, you lose all the busted hands as well as an amount that is as big as your first bet even when you have several split hands. It should be noted that this rule is more widespread in Australian Pontoon.
House Edge in Pontoon
As you probably know, the house edge represents the advantage of the house over players. As a matter of fact, this blackjack variation comes with really good house advantage that is about 0.5% which is one of the lowest house edges players can come across.
It should be noted that a Pontoon will come with a payout of 2/1. When a player forms the so-called Five Card Hand, the house edge will be 0,39%. Still, players need to bear in mind that it all depends on the rules that are used by the casino.
Basic Pontoon Strategy
As a matter of fact, the Pontoon strategy resembles the strategy that is used in Spanish 21. Still, there are certain differences that need to be mentioned. As previously noted, in Pontoon both of the dealer’s cards are face down which means that for players it is more difficult to make the right decisions. In Pontoon if you have an Ace and a 10-point card you beat every other hand even when their value is 21. Still, this does not refer to hands that also consist of an Ace and a 10-point card.
When the dealer’s and the player’s hands have the same value, the dealer wins. This sets apart Pontoon from other blackjack variations where in such cases you take your money back. When it comes to the five-card trick, it should be noted that such hands beat every hand except a Pontoon. Still, the value of these cards should not exceed 21.
Here we will try to provide you at least with the bare-bones of the Pontoon strategy. Players need to hit if they have a hard or a soft hand with a total of 14 or less. This means that if your hand totals 14, you need to hit, to split, or to double down. When you have a hand that totals 15, however, things change as you need to decide whether to hit or to stand. Still, if you have four or more cards it would be better if you stand. When your hand’s total is 16, we can advise you to stand. The same goes for hands that total between 17 and 21.
When you have a soft hand and its value is between 12 and 17, you should hit. If your hand is soft and its total is 18, it would be better if you stand. The same goes for a soft hand with a total of 19. When it comes to pairs, we would recommend you to split if you have two 2 or two 3. If you have two 4, however, you should hit. If you have two 5, you can double or hit. When you have two 6, you can double or split them. If you have two 7 or two 8, you can choose whether to slit them or to hit. When you have two 9 or two Aces, you should also split them. If you have two 10, however, we can advise you to stand.
Where to Play Pontoon
In fact, players who like the game are given plenty of options to choose from. This blackjack variation can be found not only in various land-based casinos but in numerous web-based gambling destinations as well. The game can be predominantly found in brick-and-mortar casinos in Australia and in the UK, where it enjoys great popularity.
If you have never played this game before, it would be better to practice it over the Internet as you will have the chance to master your skills and also to find the strategy that best suits you before making any real-money bets.
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