Although Pontoon may be unfamiliar to most gamers out there, those with a bit more in-depth knowledge of card games know that this game is actually very similar to Blackjack. However, the former features a number of important differences vis-à-vis the latter, which merits both the different name and the attention of curious players looking for something a bit different from the casino mainstay.
The aim and overall structure of Pontoon is the same as Blackjack. Your goal is to receive cards whose sum comes as close as possible to 21 without going over, and the game centers around the key decision of hitting or staying when you have certain combinations of cards. The key differences in this variation from Net Entertainment are that you can also 'win' by having a five-card hand without going over, the dealer must hit on 16 and a soft 17, and that all ties are won by the dealer.
How to play Pontoon
Start by deciding on your ante, which may be as little as €1 and as much as €40. You and the dealer each then receive two cards. If the dealer has a 'Pontoon' - an ace and a face card - you lose. If he does not, the game continues and you are faced with a number of options:
- Twist (aka 'hit' as you know it in Blackjack): Have the dealer deal you another card. You may do this provided you have a hand whose sum is 20 or fewer.
- Stick (aka 'stay'): Opt to not receive any more cards. The attention will turn to any other hands you may have created or the dealer's hand.
- Buy (aka 'double down'): Double your ante bet (or 'double down' in Blackjack) and receive another card. You may do this with any hand that has fewer than 5 cards. Note that, unlike in Blackjack, you may twist even after receiving the new card.
- Split: You may choose to divide two cards of the same value into two separate hands. Each time you do this, an additional bet equal to your ante will be put into the pot. You will then deal with each hand one-by-one.
Once you have finished with your hands, the game turns to the dealer. He wins all ties and must hit on 16 and a soft 17. Finally, you should also know that the payouts are different in Pontoon: You win equal your ante if you beat the dealer, but you win twice your ante if you manage to have a five-card hand without going over 21 or if you yourself create a Pontoon hand.