Pontoon rules explained

In the following guide, we will explain the rules of pontoon, one of the most exciting online casino games going! Pontoon is a novel variant of blackjack. The rules of blackjack and pontoon differ slightly. The differences in the rules between blackjack and pontoon will be explained in this guide. Furthermore, this guide offers interesting background information on pontoon, as well as our recommendation of where to play pontoon online.

If you’d like to find out more about blackjack, please check out our blackjack game rules guide.

Pontoon history

Pontoon is a British variant of one of the oldest and most popular casino games, blackjack. Blackjack is the American variant of ‘21’. All three games are played against the dealer using a standard 52-card deck. Unlike blackjack and pontoon however, 21 isn’t played in modern casinos.

The role of the banker explained

Pontoon can be played with any number of players. However, it is best played with five to eight players. When played with more than eight players, two decks of 52 cards are used in Pontoon, rather than the traditional single deck.

Before starting a game of pontoon, the banker has to be selected. The banker has an advantage: when the player and the banker have two hands of equal value, the banker wins. Therefore the banker is selected by drawing cards. According to the rules, the player who draws the highest card becomes the banker. When playing pontoon online, you can only play against the bank. You cannot become the bank yourself.

Let’s get started

Before dealing the cards, all players place their bets on the table. It’s also possible to place a side bet. This side bet is called the ‘Sweet 16’ and is based on the first two cards dealt. Sweet 16 offers the following payout:

Hand Pay out
16 or 21 1:1
Ace 1:1
Pair of Aces 1:1
Pair of twos Push
Pair of sevens Push

After the bets have been placed, the banker will deal two cards, face-down to all players involved in the game. The banker will check his cards for pontoon. Pontoon is the highest value hand in a game of pontoon. A pontoon hand consists of a 10-value card together with an ace. When the banker has pontoon it’s game over, he wins! If not, the game continues with the player’s turn!

Player's turn

When the banker doesn't have Pontoon, the game continues. For the player, the following situations can occur:
  • Pontoon (a ten plus an ace): the player has pontoon and wins!
  • Split: the player splits cards because they are of equal value. Aces can also be split.
  • Hit: the player ask for up to five cards, as long as their combined value doesn't exceed 21.
  • Twist: when a player asks for a twist, he will receive a new card without changing his bet. This can be done until the magic number of 21 is reached.
  • Stand/Stick: when a player's hand values at least 15, he can stick.

Banker's turn

When all the players have had their turn, it's the banker’s turn again. According to the rules, the banker can stick at any time during a game of pontoon. The following situations can occur:

  • Bust: the banker exceeds 21 and loses.
  • 21 or less: the banker may stick on 21 with three or four cards. The banker will pay every player who out-valued the banker's cards.
  • Five-card-trick: the banker has a five-card-trick, meaning nobody will be paid except those players who have pontoon.

Rules concerning Pontoon card and hand values

In the following table, all card values are explained. Below the card value table you will find an overview with all Pontoon hands explained.

Cards Value
Ace 11 or one
King 10
white 10
Jack 10
2/10 two/10
  • Just like with blackjack, the aim in pontoon is to create a better hand than the banker. The best hand possible is pontoon. This hand is valued at 21 coming from just two cards (an Ace plus a ten card).
  • The second-best hand consists of five cards, which can equal 21 or less. This combination is called a five-card-trick.
  • Hands that value 21 and consist of three or four cards can only be beaten by the two hands described above.
  • All other hands rank according to their value, with the closest to 21 winning.
  • Any hand valuing more than 21 is judged to be bust.


Differences between pontoon and blackjack

As mentioned previous, the rules of pontoon and blackjack are pretty much the same. There are a few noticeable differences though:

  • When playing pontoon, you can double your bet together with every new card dealt. Unlike blackjack, pontoon allows you to play further after you double your bet. You may double your bet as many times as you like.
  • The second-best hand consists of five cards, which can equal to, or less than 21. This combination is called a five-card-trick.
  • Hands that value 21 and consist of three or four cards can only be beaten by pontoon, or a five-card-trick.
  • All other hands areranked according their value, with the closest to 21 winning.
  • Any hand ranked more than 21 is judged to be 'bust'.

Our recommendation

Unfortunately, not every online casino offers pontoon. Likewise, different versions of pontoon can offer slightly different rules. To help you enjoy an unforgettable online pontoon, experience, we recommend you play at Casino Bellini.

  • Casino Bellini knows how pontoon works. In our experience, it offers the best pontoon experience for online gamblers!

We hope you have found our guide to pontoon’s rules helpful, and hope it contributes to your future successes playing pontoon online! The game rules and background information on this page will help you understand why thousands of online gambling lovers adore this game. Please visit our game rules section for more background information and game rules for other popular online casino games!

Learn the rules of other casino games: Red Dog Poker

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