Pontoon / British Blackjack

In this part of our how to play blackjack blackjack guide, we are going to look at one of the most popular variations of the game: Pontoon. Pontoon has a lot of similarities to blackjack, as well as some important differences. It is also worth noting that there are two different versions of Pontoon - British and Malaysian. For this guide, we will be focusing on the British variation. Let’s begin by taking a look at how to play Pontoon and highlighting some key differences from classic blackjack.

How to play Pontoon

Pontoon is a blackjack variation that is incredibly similar to the original game. In Pontoon, the aim is to beat the dealer by getting a hand as close to 21 as possible. Players are dealt an initial two cards, with the dealer also being dealt two. Unlike standard blackjack, the dealer's cards are both hidden from the player. 

Players must then decide whether to stick or twist, which is how the game refers to ‘stand or hit’ from the original blackjack game. Another key terminology change is the word blackjack, which refers to hitting a 21, which is now called Pontoon.

The Rules

The rules of Pontoon are similar to blackjack, with a few exceptions. One of the most important similarities is that the card value remains the same in both games, with Ace acting as a 1 or 11, depending on your hand. The aim of the game, beating the dealer by getting a hand close to 21 or that is worth 21, also remains unchanged. 

A major difference is the introduction of the five-card hand rule. A five-card hand that does not go bust is the second-best hand you can have in the game and will beat any hand that is worth less than 21. Another key difference is that players can hit after doubling down, which is not permitted in traditional blackjack.

The House Edge

The House Edge in Pontoon actually presents better blackjack odds than the standard game. The house Edge in Pontoon sits at around 0.38%, which is favourable compared to the 0.5% house edge in blackjack. However, these figures rely on players using basic blackjack strategy, a common model used to help reduce your chances of losing. Without this, the house edge sits around 2%. 

Pontoon / British Blackjack Tips

While there is no way you can guarantee a win in British Pontoon, there are some blackjack tips you can follow to help give you an advantage in the game. 

Understand the rules

One important thing is to ensure you understand all of the rules and the differences between standard blackjack and Pontoon.

Test blackjack strategies

There are many blackjack strategies out there, and we would recommend testing out different ones when playing Pontoon. The most optimal is basic blackjack strategy, which can be easily applied to Pontoon as the game sticks to the same blueprint as standard blackjack. 

Manage your bankroll

It is important when playing Pontoon or any other blackjack variation that you manage your bankroll effectively and ensure you are never chasing losses or putting yourself at risk.

Advantages of playing Pontoon

There are many advantages to playing Pontoon. One of the biggest is that when played with basic blackjack strategy; the game offers an excellent house edge compared to other variations of the game. Pontoon is also extremely popular, which means it is easy enough to find it at top online casinos and is widely available. As such, it is also likely to be eligible for casino bonuses and promotions, which can be an excellent way to give your account a little boost.

Disadvantages of playing Pontoon

A major disadvantage in Pontoon is that the dealer’s cards are dealt face-down, which can be extremely frustrating and make decisions much harder. Another huge disadvantage in the game is that the dealer wins all ties, which is not the case in traditional blackjack.

Online Casinos where you can play Pontoon

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Final Thoughts

Pontoon is one of the most popular blackjack variations available, and for good reason. The game is fun to play and comes with many advantages. However, this does not mean that players are guaranteed a win. Like normal blackjack, it is impossible to overturn the house edge. As such, players should make sure they set their limits and ensure that they gamble responsibly at all times. You can find a wealth of responsible gambling resources to help you right here at Gambling Zone.

Pontoon FAQs

Here are the most common questions we get asked about Pontoon.

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