How to Play Pontoon Online

BLACKJACK Updated on: 31 August 2018

Blackjack has many variants, and besides regular blackjack, Pontoon is one of the more popular exotic versions of this game. Because of this, many serious online casinos have Pontoon as one of the blackjack versions their customers can try out. Generally, Pontoon rules are similar to those of a normal game of blackjack. But I should tell you right away that Pontoon offers worse winning odds than regular blackjack.

For a regular online blackjack player, it should therefore be a no-brainer that this game should be avoided, and yet some people choose to play this blackjack game regularly despite being aware of this glaring disadvantage. The question is why. Below you will learn more about this game: how it varies from regular blackjack, and why people still play it despite its reduced winning odds.

1. How You Can Play Pontoon Online

As with regular blackjack, you start by placing your bet. What follows is also similar to what you see with regular blackjack – you get two cards, both facing up. The dealer will also get two cards. But unlike in regular blackjack, both dealer cards will face down in Pontoon. With normal blackjack, only one card faces down.

During the game, playing options like surrender and insurance are still available. Winning the game is also similar to normal blackjack – you need to form a hand whose total is larger than the dealer’s without exceeding 21.

For these reasons, first time Pontoon players should have no trouble getting a grasp of the game if they already know how regular blackjack is played. Interestingly, with Pontoon blackjack, a 21 is called Pontoon, and not blackjack.

Major Differences between Pontoon and Regular Blackjack

As similar as these blackjack games are, there are some salient differences between the them. Many of these rule variations collectively whittle away the good edge that regular blackjack players have.

Unfavorable Pontoon Rules

In Pontoon You cannot stand if you have 14 or less
With regular blackjack, you can stand anytime, even when asking for an additional card guarantees you cannot bust. But with Pontoon, you are not done hitting until your total exceeds 14. This limits your options because you can win with a 14 or less in regular blackjack, but not with Pontoon.

A tie is a loss in Pontoon

One of the things you will not truly like about Pontoon rules is that a tie is settled as a win for the dealer. In regular blackjack, you usually get back your bet in a tie. Considering that ties come up quite a number of times during a blackjack game, this rule can eat into your edge considerably.

The dealer’s cards both face down

Forget about knowing a dealer’s chances of having hit a 21 with the first two cards in Pontoon. The dealer’s cards both face down in this game. This can put you at a disadvantage because you will not have a way of changing your playing strategy in case there is a possibility that the dealer’s cards total to 21, for instance forfeiting the game through a surrender.

Favorable Pontoon Rules

But it’s not all bad with this blackjack game, there are some Pontoon rules which give you an advantage over a regular blackjack player. They include the following.

Payouts for a 21 are better in Pontoon

When you hit a 21 with your first two cards in Pontoon, the payout is 2 to 1. With regular blackjack, the payout is usually 3 to 2. This is one of the reasons some people choose to play this blackjack version in place of the traditional alternative.

You can hit after doubling down in Pontoon

This is one of the few rules in Pontoon that favor the player a little more than regular blackjack rules do. If you double down while playing Pontoon, you can ask for new cards. With normal blackjack, doubling down entitles you to a new card but nothing more.

You can double down with 3 and 4 cards

With normal blackjack, you cannot double down unless you have two cards. But with Pontoon, you can double down even when you have 3 or 4 cards. Although this is obviously a benefit as it gives you more play options, careful execution is necessary to ensure the strategy does not work against you.

Pontoon recognizes the 5 card trick

Even if a dealer has a 21 (called a Pontoon rather than a blackjack in this game), you can be the winner if you have 5 cards and have yet to exceed 21. Obviously, this is not an easy feat, but it still helps to tip the odds in your favor when it happens.

Is Pontoon even Worth Playing?

Clearly, the rules are not on your side if you decide to play Pontoon instead of normal blackjack. This might get you wondering – is it even worth playing this game at all? Well, lots of people play it, and there must be a reason for this; something that trumps these downsides.

One of these reasons is that this game is lots of fun to play, whether you play it online or in a land-based casino. Many people playing this game know of the slightly unfavorable house edge it entails, but are still willing to play it on a regular basis. But frankly, it also has a few favorable rules that might entice gamblers to try it.

If you are yet to try this game, you can try it for yourself and see why many people play it, and why many casinos have it as one of the most popular blackjack games in their selection.

The casinos reviewed on this site will all give you a chance to play Pontoon. Other than that, they offer a playing experience that towers well over what an average online casino can give you. So, check out these reviews and get a chance to play Pontoon in the best online casino environment you could ever need.