Pontoon blackjack is a slight variation on the traditional rules of what is quite possibly the world’s most popular casino game: blackjack. It’s arguably simpler than the traditional game and offers an extremely attractive house edge of only 0.38%!
On this page we’ll provide an overview of the game and its rules, give some insight into strategy as well as clear recommendations for first-rate casinos at which you can play Blackjack Pontoon. Whether it’s live dealer or RNG-based gaming you prefer (RNGs refer to regular online casino games) the benefits of playing online are plenty:
If you’re familiar with traditional blackjack (even if you’ve only seen the movie 21) then you’re already over halfway there. There are a few variations of pontoon as well, so let’s take a quick look at the everything.
As with traditional blackjack, you’ll normally play with 2-8 decks of cards: aces are 1 or 11, face cards are 10 and the other cards all hold their printed value. The best hand is Pontoon, which is made by an ace plus any 10-value card: note that unlike “blackjack”, this hand can be formed after the deal, by splitting your cards.
The second best hand is a 5-card trick, which is any 5-card hand under 22. It is only beaten by a Pontoon.
You (and the other players) are dealt two cards face up, the dealer two face down. They will check their hand and, if they have Pontoon, the game ends immediately. You bet on your hand, then stick and twist just like blackjack. Hands must exceed 14, unless it’s a 5-card trick.
The dealer stops drawing cards themselves after reaching a hand of 17 or better. That’s it. If no one has a special hand, then the highest numerical hand wins – if it’s a draw between you and the dealer, they win. Payout is 1:1 unless you win with a special hand, in which case it’s 2:1.
In Australia there’s a slight variation called Federal Pontoon, which allows players to split into 3 separate hands during play. Jupiters 21, another Australian variant, has the following unique rules:
As you can tell, these are very slight changes, but they do alter your strategy and approach to playing. Unless otherwise stated, online casinos will be running the “normal” rules we described above.
When it comes to strategy for Pontoon, everything comes down to statistics. Given your hand (value and the number of cards), you have to decide what the best move is to optimise your chances of staying under 22 and beating the dealer. Thankfully you won’t need a maths degree to work this stuff out: instead, you can follow charts which tell you exactly what to do for each hand!
Check out these Pontoon Basic Strategy charts for an example. Because there’s no element of bluffing or influencing the outcome, players should always follow these mathematical suggestions, because they offer the most likely routes to success. That’s all there is to it. Follow a chart like this and you’ll be doubling, splitting, standing and hitting with the best of them.
For Blackjack Pontoon games supplied by Real Time Gaming, Playtech, Galewind Software and Cryptologic (aka the vast majority of all available games) the house edge is a lowly 0.38%. For Microgaming, where the dealer stands on a soft 17 and split aces get one card each, the edge climbs slightly to 0.39%.
This means that Pontoon blackjack offers you better odds than the vast majority of online casino games. Follow the rules we talked about for strategy and there’s a very good chance you’ll make yourself a tidy profit!
You might be surprised to hear that many online casinos don’t offer a single blackjack variation. These are usually casinos which focus their efforts entirely away from table games, preferring video slots and progressive jackpots. Thankfully, however, plenty still offer a Blackjack Pontoon option.
If you’re looking for a reliable, enjoyable and safe casino at which to play some traditional Blackjack Pontoon, then check out our recommended casinos below: you won’t find a better place to play!
Some players are happy enough with RNG (Random Number Generator) games, where you play against software. However, for those looking for a more immersive and engaging experience – with all the same rules and probabilities – then live dealer Blackjack Pontoon might be for you.
Here you’ll have a real dealer on the other end of an HD camera feed, with their own table and proper decks of cards. You place your bets on a virtual table and get to chat to the dealer. You can play at any of the casinos recommended below and are guaranteed to have hassle-free and enjoyable gambling.
Many casinos offer welcome bonuses and regular promotions to encourage Blackjack Pontoon play. Here are some of the best casinos for game-related bonuses (aka free cash, usually) you can have a look at.
Blackjack Pontoon is a simple, exciting and potentially very lucrative game for players who follow the strategic guidelines. If you’re interested in learning more about the strategy and statistics behind the game, Wizard of Odds have some great material, while How to Play goes into fantastic detail!
Last updated January 8, 2018