Pontoon is a variant to traditional blackjack, providing a game with some favourable rules for the player and offering some of the lowest house edges in comparison to many other popular casino games. It’s also popular online at some of the best blackjack casino sites. Learn how to play and where to play in this article.
There are two different games known as Pontoon, both of which have been derived from a game of American Blackjack known as Spanish 21. One of the Pontoon types originated in the Britain and the UK and is very similar to traditional blackjack. The other version, the one we are going to focus on, is vastly different and is most popular in Australian, Malaysian and Singaporean casinos.
The ‘Australian’ Pontoon goes by a variety of different names depending on where you are playing. It is called Federal Pontoon in Tassie, Jupiter 21 at Jupiter’s Gold Coast Casino, Treasury 21 at the Treasury Casino in Brisbane and Paradise Pontoon at the Reef Casino in Cairns.
The rules of Pontoon vs. traditional Blackjack
Just like blackjack, the concept of Pontoon is to receive cards of a higher value to those of the dealer, with out exceeding 21. At the core level, Pontoon is very similar to traditional blackjack, but there are a few notable differences.
- Totalling 21 is known as a Pontoon rather than blackjack
- A hit in Blackjack is called a twist in Pontoon
- A stand in Blackjack is called a stick in Pontoon
- An early surrender is available in Pontoon and is referred to as a double down rescue
- A ‘buy’ refers to doubling the bet amount and importantly you can still twist afterwards
- In traditional blackjack, the player’s cards are dealt face up, while the dealer has one face up and one face down (known as the hole card). However, in Pontoon the dealer has no hole card, meaning players are not able to determine whether the dealer has drawn a natural Pontoon until all players at the table have acted and the dealer draws a second card.
- Because there is no hole card, it is possible for players to split/double and lose if the dealer happens to draw a Pontoon.
- Drawing a Pontoon (21) is an automatic win and always beats a dealer’s Pontoon.
- The majority of casinos will use six or eight decks for traditional blackjack, but when it comes to Pontoon it can be as little as four from a continuous shuffling machine, or six to eight from a shoe.
- Cards valued at 10 are taken out of the decks for Pontoon.
- Depending on the casino at which you are playing, you can split up to a maximum of two times.
- Doubling down is only allowed on a hand which totals 10, 11 or 12.
- On a hand which has not been doubled down which includes an Ace, it must count as a one rather than an 11. In traditional blackjack, doubling down on a soft 18 (for example a Seven and an Ace) would actually be equal to doubling down on an eight when playing Pontoon.
- Players are able to opt for a late surrender if the dealer’s card is an Ace or a 10, however if you take this option and the dealer twists a Pontoon then you still lose your whole bet.
- The dealer is required to twist on a soft 17 which is a rule favouring the house.
What is the house edge for Pontoon?
Despite the removal of the 10-valued cards favouring the house, the house edge for Pontoon is actually lower than many other variants of blackjack. It comes down to the bonus payouts on offer, the flexibility of being able to late surrender and due to the no hole card rule, with players paid out for any hand which results in a total of 21, regardless of whether the dealer achieves a natural Pontoon upon drawing their second card.
Where can I play Pontoon online?
There are a multitude of online casinos which offer a wide variety of blackjack variants, including Pontoon. With a wide selection of casinos to choose from, we have selected our top choices, all of which offer a safe and reputable betting environment and a terrific gaming atmosphere.
Additionally, all of our recommended online casinos also have a lucrative welcome bonus, giving you bonus cash to play with upon making your first deposit. Our top rated online casinos for playing Pontoon are as follows: