You are here » Home » Pontoon 21 – Rules & Tips

Pontoon 21 – Rules & Tips


Pontoon pays 2 to 1, while blackjack pays 3 to 2.

Pontoon was designed mainly to be played in British and Australian casinos, but also in casinos across Singapore and Malaysia. It is considered as a variant of Spanish 21 mainly played in America, and generally as a variant of blackjack, although it is a separate and unique game in itself. However, with the appearance of online casinos, players from all around the world began playing Pontoon.

Players, Cards and Objective

Pontoon can be played with different number of players. At least two players are needed for the game and up to eight players. If there are more than eight players, the best thing is to use two standard 52-card decks, although online casinos use 6 to 8 decks for any number of players.

The cards are valued the same as in blackjack. Aces are valued 1 or 11, cards from 2 to 10 are valued as such, while face cards are valued 10, and those are jack, queen and king. The aim is simple, you have to collect the appropriate value to form a hand that is closest as possible to 21. Also, you shouldn’t exceed this value or you will lose.

In Pontoon players have to decide who is going to be the banker. This can be decided simply by each player cutting the deck and the one with the highest card can become the banker. Online Pontoon is different in this respect.

Each player is dealt a face down card and has to place his bet without peeking the card value. After that a second card is dealt and the players can take a look at their hand. The best possible hand that you can have is 21, but it has to be made up of two cards, one ten card and an ace. It is called Pontoon. If the banker has a Pontoon he immediately shows it and wins double the amount of the player’s bets.

The second best hand is a hand consisting of five cards that have a total of 21 or smaller. This is called a Five Card Trick. A Pontoon or a Five Card Hand can beat any three or four card hands that have the same total of 21 or smaller. A Five Card Hand can have a smaller total, but a Pontoon is strictly 21. Keep in mind that if you and the banker have hands of equal values, the banker always wins.

How Pontoon is Different to Blackjack

Splitting two cards of equal value is the same as in blackjack. However, in Pontoon doubling is replaced with buying. Just like in blackjack, when you double your bet amount and wait for an additional card, only in Pontoon the round doesn’t stop for you when you have bought your additional card and you can continue playing. Also:

  • In Pontoon the player must hit if he has a 14 or less, while in blackjack he can stand on any two cards. In Pontoon you can double (buy) on two, three or four cards, while in blackjack only on the first two cards.
  • In blackjack all ties with the dealer are pushed, while in Pontoon ties are lost. As mentioned earlier, if you and the dealer have a pontoon, the dealer always wins, while in blackjack it is a push.
  • Pontoon pays 2 to 1, while blackjack pays 3 to 2.
  • If you have a Five Card Trick hand equal to 21 or smaller in Pontoon you can beat a hand with equal value but less cards, while in blackjack there is no Five Card Trick.
  • Both dealer cards in Pontoon are faced down, while in blackjack only one is faced down.
  • In Pontoon you can split an ace twice, and only once in blackjack.
  • If you have a pontoon after splitting aces, it is considered a pontoon, while in blackjack hitting 21 after splitting aces is considered only as plain 21.
  • You can twist (hit) after splitting aces in Pontoon, which is not possible in blackjack, and you can double down after splitting them, which is also not possible in blackjack.

Things to Consider When Playing Pontoon Online

One obvious thing to consider is how reputable the online casino is, because you wouldn’t want to deposit your money at an online casino flagged by online players as a scam. Reputable online casinos are relatively easy to find. You can do that by taking look at the casinos on our web-site (only reputable casinos are available) or just by simply asking more experienced online players.

Optionally you can look for a reputable casino that offers a separate bonus for playing table games, because in general welcome bonuses are given only for playing slots, so look for the casinos with additional table game bonuses.

Blackjack Games A-Z
Play Blackjack for Free
Practice and improve your Blackjack skills with our free instant play games. No download is required.
Trivia & Facts
What are the chances of getting a natural 21, or blackjack?
Connect with