Pontoon Blackjack

Pontoon, the Australian Blackjack

If you’ve ever visited a British or Australian casino, chances are you already know the Pontoon blackjack. The Australian version of blackjack has many similarities to Spanish 21 played in North America and offers excellent odds to players. The British version of the Pontoon is closer to the classic version of blackjack. If you want to learn the rules of the Pontoon Blackjack once and for all and assimilate our first-rate strategic advice, read on!

Pontoon Blackjack

What is the Pontoon Blackjack?

The first thing to know is that there are two different decks of cards called ‘Pontoon Blackjack’ or ‘Pontoon Game’ or just ‘Pontoon’. The two are obviously governed by different rules.

The Australian Pontoon Blackjack (also played in casinos in Malaysia and Singapore) is more or less identical to Spanish 21, a variant of blackjack popular in North American casinos.

The British Pontoon Game, meanwhile, is closer to the original version of blackjack.

If you play pontoon in Southeast Asia or Australia, you will notice that the 10 have been removed from the deck (just like in Spanish 21). If you play online pontoon games, you will find that the UK version of this game uses regular 52-card decks. In general, 8 decks of cards are integrated into the shoe.

Pontoon Blackjack

What should you know about the Pontoon Blackjack?

  • There are two variants of the Pontoon Blackjack: the Australian version and the British version;
  • In the Australian Pontoon Blackjack, all 10 are removed from play;
  • In the British Pontoon Blackjack game, decks of 52 ordinary cards are used;
  • In these variants, we say ‘twist’ instead of ‘hit’ and ‘stick’ instead of ‘stand’ (game actions);
  • In the Australian Pontoon Blackjack, none of the dealer’s cards are exposed face up.

How are hands counted at the Pontoon Blackjack?

   A pontoon (a hand of two cards totaling 21 points known as ‘natural blackjack’ in classic versions) is the most powerful hand possible. It remains beaten, however, if the dealer himself obtains a pontoon. The most powerful second hand is a hand made up of 5 cards which did not bust (exceeded the 21 regulatory points). 

If you get a hand of 5 cards whose value is 21 points and the croupier has also managed to build one, it is the latter who wins the round since all the hands of 5 cards are equal and that the dealer is automatically declared the winner in the event of a tie. 

Even if a hand of 21 points made up of 3 or 4 cards remains powerful in absolute terms, it will not be as much as a hand of 5 cards totaling 21 points.

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Your hand must total at least 15 points!

Another big difference compared to traditional blackjack: you are obliged to draw an additional card as long as the value of your hand is less than 15 points. In practice, this means that you do not have the possibility of staying on your game (unlike classic blackjack) if you hold a hard hand whose value is between 12 and 14.

De facto, even if you do not receive theoretically that only one more card after having separated a pair of aces, the croupier will still be obliged to distribute others to you as long as the value of your cards has not reached the cap of 15 points regulatory.

Unfortunately, this game is only available in Southeast Asia and Oceania (at least in its live form). However, many online casinos will offer it to you in their respective game library with wonderful bonuses.

In the Australian Pontoon Blackjack game, the two cards of the croupier are closed (invisible sides). This is a real disadvantage for the player since it is generally the dealer’s visible card (in the classic versions) which helps him to make relevant decisions.

As in Spanish 21, the Pontoon Blackjack rules differ radically from the original version. Also, remember that all 10 are removed from the game and that the dealer wins the bet in the event of a tie.

You must certainly be wondering why you should start a pontoon game if the odds are so unpleasant. Simply because the pontoon has an interesting bonus system as well as subtly tweaked rules to increase the player’s chances of winning. The payouts associated with 21-point 5-card hands, tantalizing bonuses, and late surrenders are all good reasons to favor the pontoon at the expense of classic blackjack. 

How to play Pontoon Blackjack Game?

A Pontoon Blackjack game begins when the dealer (or banker) distributes a closed card to each of the players. All players can view it except the dealer. Active players can then place their bet on the table (from the left). The dealer will give them a second closed card. All players (including the dealer) will be able to view their cards.

If the dealer has a pontoon (an ace associated with a 10-point log), he wins the game and wins double the bets made by the player. If the dealer does not have a pontoon, players who wish can try to improve the power of their hand by requesting (‘twist’) an additional card from the dealer. If you own a pontoon yourself, you have won the round! Otherwise, here are the available options:

  • If the value of your hand is at least 15 points, you can stay on your game (‘stick’). As in classic blackjack, you can decide to stay on your positions and leave the floor to the next player. If your hand is more powerful than that of the dealer (or if the latter busts), you win the game.
  • If the value of your hand is between 15 and 21 points, you can draw an additional card (‘twist’). The dealer will give you an open card (face up). The operation can be repeated at will (provided that you never exceed the critical threshold of 21 points). If you manage to get a 21 point hand consisting of 5 cards, you will hold a 5 card pontoon, the second most powerful hand in the game.
  • If the value of your hand is less than 21 points, nothing prevents you from buying (‘buy’) additional cards. In this particular case, you will agree to place again a bet at least equal to that which you initially placed to receive a new card, face down.
  • If your two cards are of identical value, you can also split them to play on two different hands. In doing so, you will again have to place a bet equivalent to your initial bet. If you are still well below the 21 points, you are free to buy another card.

If you started the game by drawing an additional card (and not by buying it), you will no longer be able to buy cards or increase the size of your bets while the game is in progress. On the other hand, if you started the game by buying an additional card, you are free to continue it by drawing additional cards (rather than buying them).

Like classic blackjack, if you still get a card of the same face value after a split, you can split the hand again to form two others. If at any time during the game, the value of your hand exceeds the threshold of 21 points, you bust and lose the round. 

Pontoon Blackjack lingo

The online version of the Pontoon Blackjack took great care to use the same game terminology as the Australians for the sake of realism. Although different from those used in online blackjack, the words, and expressions used in the Pontoon Blackjack game will not cause you the slightest problem. ‘Hit’ (draw a card) is replaced by ‘Twist’ and ‘Stand’ (stay on its game) gives way to ‘Stick’.

To double your bet, we use the word ‘Buy’ instead of ‘Double Down’. ‘Split’ remains unchanged.

Basic Pontoon Blackjack Strategy

Due to the lack of 10s and the variety of bonuses associated with certain hands, a whole new strategy must be applied. If you play the Australian version of the Pontoon Blackjack game, the strategy to use has similarities to the Spanish 21 (although some notable differences are to be noted).

Here is our strategy table to optimize your chances of victory. Please note that most land-based casinos will not prevent you from making explicit use of them during the game.

 

Number of Player Cards

Your Hand

2

3

4

5-8

Twist

Twist

Buy

9

Twist

Buy

Buy

10

Buy

Buy

Buy

11

Buy

Buy

Buy

12

Twist

Twist

Buy

13

Twist

Twist

Buy

14

Twist

Twist

Buy

15

Stick

Stick

Buy

16

Stick

Stick

Buy

17

Stick

Stick

Twist

18-20

Stick

Stick

Stick

Soft 13

Twist

Twist

 

Soft 14

Twist

Twist

Buy

Soft 15

Twist

Twist

Buy

Soft 16

Twist

Twist

Buy

Soft 17

Twist

Twist

Buy

Soft 18

Twist

Twist

Buy

Soft 19

Stick

Buy

Buy

Soft 20

Stick

Buy

Buy

Soft 21

Stick

Buy

Buy

Pairs

 

 

2,2

Twist

 

3,3

Twist

 

4,4

Twist

 

5,5

Buy

 

6,6

Twist

 

7,7

Twist

 

8,8

Split

 

9,9

Stick

 

10,10

Stick

 

A,A

Twist

 

Play pontoon Game at an online casino!

You can play online Pontoon Games at most virtual casinos. All online casinos that offer this variant of blackjack are listed on our official list. Once registered in an online casino, you will naturally find the pontoon in the ‘online blackjack‘ subsection of your casino’s game library. Good luck to you!

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