If you’re looking for a new twist on blackjack to play, then Pontoon might be for you. Pontoon blackjack is an American variant known as Spanish 21. Where it differs is in the terminology and rules of the game. There are two offshoots of this variant, namely the UK edition and the Australian version.
First, is the UK version, which is similar to American blackjack but is far less prevalent at international casinos. In the Australian version, which we will focus on, the rules allow the first dealer card to be face down. So, you’ll have to get familiar with the probabilities to ensure that you make the right choices.
Best Casinos to Play Pontoon Blackjack
Pontoon Card Game
- Best Pontoon Blackjack Games
- Best Casinos to Play Pontoon Blackjack
- Pontoon Card Game
- How to Play Pontoon Blackjack
- Rules of Pontoon Blackjack
- Payouts & House Edge
- More Blackjack Games
How to Play Pontoon Blackjack
Pontoon is played with between two and eight decks. Digital games tend to have two decks, while live dealers prefer six to eight to stop card counting.
Here are the basic steps to playing this blackjack game:
Early Game Rules
- Before the game starts, players must choose a minimum and maximum bet by consensus.
- Then, you’ll receive one card face up, starting on the dealer’s left. The dealer also gets two cards placed face down.
- You can place a single bet before getting your cards on the game, and any side bets (usually $5).
- After that, you’ll get a second card face-up along with the Banker.
- If the banker gets a Pontoon (21), they’ll reveal it, and the game ends.
- The pot is doubled and given to the banker.
- If the banker doesn’t get Pontoon, you have three options:
- Declare “Pontoon” if you get an ace and a ten.
- You can Stick (it’s the same as standing).
- Buy a card with another bet, known as a Twist.
- Stick on a hand of 15.
- Split your hand with another bet.
Pontoon Blackjack: Late Game Rules
- When your hand is compromised of five cards, you have a Five Card Trick and can’t get any more.
- In Pontoon blackjack, the banker then gets to play and turn their cards up. They may add three more cards to their hand until they’re happy. At any point, they can stay.
- Following the round, the possible outcomes are:
- If they are dealt over 21, the dealer goes bust. Each player in the round gets their bet back.
- For under 21 on four cards, the dealer pays out to players with a hand higher than theirs (usually 19).
- But if the dealer has a Five Card Trick, they have to pay Pontoons only.
- If no one gets 21, the dealer returns the cards to the bottom of the deck and deals again without shuffling.
- Should anyone but the banker gets 21 without a split, they become the new banker for the next round. If two players have 21, the one closest to the dealer on their left is the banker.
Rules of Pontoon Blackjack
- First, the dealer must hit soft 17.
- You can double after a split.
- The dealer can’t take a hole card.
- You can double only on nine to 11.
- If you double on a soft hand, the ace would count as 1.
- You can take “late surrender.” If the dealer has a ten or ace up, it’s surrendered.
- A player with 21 or blackjack wins immediately.
- You may surrender after doubling, known as “double down rescue” but you’ll forfeit an amount equal to the original bet.
Pontoon Rules for Australia and Malaysia
|Location||Decks||Max. Splits||Resplit Aces||Hole Card||Double Any Time||House Edge|
Payouts & House Edge
- Five-card 21 pays three to two.
- Six-card 21 pays two to one.
- Seven-or-more-card-21 pays three to one (no bonus).
- 6-7-8 or 7-7-7 of mixed suits pays three to two.
- A 6-7-8 or 7-7-7 of the same suit pays two to one.
- 6-7-8 or 7-7-7 of spades pays three to one.
- Suited 7-7-7, when the dealer has a seven face up, this pays $1000 for bets of $5-$24 and $5000 for bets of $25 or over.