Online Pontoon - Rules & Strategy
If you want to play Pontoon online, we recommend Europa Casino for European players and Silver Oak Casino for U.S. residents. If you’d like to play on any other site, have a look at our blackjack toplist.
Pontoon is similar to blackjack switch in that it takes the basic blackjack rules but adds pretty significant twists, making it almost a whole new game – as opposed to Atlantic City blackjack and Blackjack Surrender that only make minor tweaks to blackjack.
Pontoon was once a rare blackjack variant only found at casinos using RTG software but in recent years online casino software providers Playtech, Cryptogaming, and Microgaming have all added pontoon to the blackjack games they offer so it’s much more common now.
Pontoon uses eight decks and shares many blackjack rules, but also adds some significant changes into the mix, most notably paying the player at 2:1 for any five card hands they make (including five card hands after splitting).
Here are some of the major rule changes that make Pontoon unique:
Five card hands for the player that don’t go over 21 are winners that are paid at 2:1.
Natural blackjacks are called “pontoons” and are paid at 2:1.
All other player wins are paid at even money (1:1).
The dealer wins all ties, including pontoons and five-card hands.
The player and dealer get two cards to start the game, with both player cards face-up and both dealer cards face-down.
A player must hit (called “twist” in pontoon) all point totals less than 15.
Players can hit or twist after doubling down.
Players can double down or draw more cards after splitting aces.
Pontoon has a very low house advantage of about 0.35%, although correct strategy for pontoon is a good deal different than basic blackjack strategy due to all the different rules and variations.
Many blackjack players find pontoon very enjoyable as the rules make it an action game with lots of chances to double down, especially if you’re close to making a five-card hand.
The ability to double after splitting hands plus the requirement to keep hitting until your total is higher than 15 also lends more excitement, as the correct play is to keep hitting and doubling in many cases where you might otherwise just stand in a regular blackjack game.