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  Pontoon Blackjack:

Though the roots of blackjack are not quite clear, some of the earliest references to the game are from Spain and France. However, different versions of blackjack have sprung up all over the world. There is European Blackjack, which is perhaps the most well known version, as well as American and Chinese variants. Pontoon Blackjack is the name given to the British variant.

Unlike Chinese Blackjack, Pontoon Blackjack is fundamentally quite similar to the European version. You are still hoping to build a hand that is better than the dealer’s, but does not go over twenty-one. To this end, you have the option to either take another card, or keep the hand you have been dealt as is.

The hand rankings at Pontoon are a little different than in the “traditional” continental blackjack. In Pontoon, the Blackjack hand is called (yes, you guessed it) Pontoon and also consists of an ace and either a ten or a face card. According to the usual blackjack card value rule, an ace can be valued at either a one or an eleven. (If the ace is valued at eleven, the resulting total hand value is referred to as “soft.” For instance, an ace and a five are a soft sixteen.) This is the hand everyone wants, and besides special bonus hands, yields the best payout. You get back twice the amount of your wager. The next highest hand is known as the Five Card Trick. This happens when you have “hit” enough times to hold five cards, and still have miraculously not gone over twenty-one. Interestingly, a Pontoon card is still considered to rank higher than a Five Card Trick. After the Five Card Trick, the next “good” hand is a group of three or four cards that total exactly twenty-one. Individual card values are the same as in other types of blackjack: aces are one or eleven, and all face cards have the value of ten.

Pontoon Blackjack


Besides the Five Card Trick rule, there is another special regulation in Pontoon Blackjack. This time, it has to do with obtaining additional cards. If you want to hit, you can either ask to “buy” a card or “twist” it. If you buy a card, you must put up an additional wager that is double or equivalent to your starting wager. Then you get another card face-down. If ask to twist a card, you do not pay any money, but your card will be dealt to you face-up. In effect, buying a card means that you are paying for the privilege of keeping your hand a secret from the dealer. For the player on a budget, the feature of twisting cards is a good way to keep one’s playing options open without cutting too deeply into one’s funds. Then again, one must keep in mind that twisting allows the dealer to know more about the cards the player has. It is up to you to decide what you want to save: money or secrecy.

Pontoon Blackjack is similar enough to European Blackjack that players of the latter game can pick it up quickly. If you are a veteran blackjack player, you can just go over the rules of Pontoon a few times, and then jump into the game right away. The reverse may also work rather well. Players who start out with the British game should be able to cross over into the French and American variants relatively easily.

Pontoon Blackjack Online


Players can also count on enjoying the same betting and playing options that they like in European Blackjack. For instance, Pontoon Blackjack also allows you to split a pair of cards so that you can play two hands. You can even split a split, in the rare case that you get a third card that matches one of the halves of your initial split pair. Still, you must realize that you will be required to show your cards, so that the dealer can know that you really do have a pair. If you prefer to keep your cards secret, you might want to re-think splitting. Besides, it is much simpler to play only one hand instead of two.

By the nature of the game, Pontoon Blackjack encourages players to keep hitting. This is due to the special status awarded to people who possess the Five Card Trick hand. Participants who begin with particularly low card values may become very aggressive, hitting again and again so they can have five cards. You may feel the urge to do the same, but ask yourself first whether or not you might end up busting more than is necessary.

So far, we have seen Pontoon Blackjack to be fundamentally similar to European Blackjack. The differences between them are relatively minor. However, there is one point at which the two games diverge significantly, and unfortunately, it is not to the advantage of Pontoon Blackjack. One major disadvantage of Pontoon Blackjack is the advantage it offers to the dealer or banker. If a player compares his or her cards to the banker, and both hands have an equal point value, the banker automatically wins. In other versions of blackjack, there is the option of a “push” in which bets are returned to the people who place them, and money is neither gained nor lost. The “automatic win” for the banker in Pontoon Blackjack turns off some players, and may be one reason why it is not as popular as other versions of blackjack.

In sum, Pontoon Blackjack preserves many of the strengths of its incredibly popular continental counterpart. Like European Blackjack, this game leaves a great deal of room for players to make decisions, both about bets and about building their hands.

Skill plays a big role, in contrast to games like Sic Bo and Roulette, which are games of chance. There are ways for you to develop your skills in the game, practicing until you know how to take advantage of all the rules and betting options. Though the rule about awarding ties to the banker might turn off some players, the game rules make up for this by giving more options such as the buy-vs.-twist choice, or the Five Card Trick. If you like other types of blackjack, you may like this one, as well.

  List of casinos with Pontoon Blackjack:

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