Pontoon

pontoonTwo different Blackjack-related card games are known as Pontoon.

  • In Australia, Malaysia and Singapore, the name Pontoon is used for a card game that is similar to Spanish 21.
  • In the United Kingdom and some other parts of the Commonwealth, the name Pontoon is used for a card game that is more similar to Blackjack, but uses the terms “twist” (hit), “stick” (stand) and “buy” (doubling the bet, not the same as doubling down). This game is played with a single 52 card deck. Buying is allowed on any hand consisting of 2 cards, 3 cards or 4 cards. You are allowed to keep twisting after a buy.

Rules for the Pontoon played in Australia, Malaysia and Singapore

  • Pontoon is played with six or eight so called Spanish decks, shuffled together. To create a Spanish deck from a regular 52 card deck, you simply remove all the tens (T).
  • In Pontoon, the cards 2-9 are worth their numerical value in points. There are no tens since they have been removed from the decks. Jack, Queen and King are worth 10 points each. The ace is worth 1 point or 11 points, depending on what’s best for the hand.
  • The table used for Pontoon is the same as the more well-known blackjack table.
  • Just as in Blackjack, the player’s goal is to come closer to 21 points than the dealer, without going over.
  • A hand consisting of an ace + a ten point card is called a pontoon and when you win with a pontoon you are paid better than for a regular win. If you have ever played blackjack, you recognize the idea.
  • A player’s pontoon always beats a dealer’s pontoon.
  • A player’s 21 point hand always beats a dealer’s 21 point hand.
  • At the start of the round, the dealer deals herself one face-up card. She doesn’t deal herself a second card until the round is about to end, and all the players have already acted.
  • The rules for splitting varies from casino to casino. In some casinos, a hand can only be split once. In others, you can split twice.
  • If you split aces, you get exactly one new card on each ace – no more and no less.
  • In some casinos, doubling is only allowed on two-card hands. In others, you are allowed to double on any hand.
  • Surrendering is only an option when the dealer’s first card is Ace, King, Queen or Jack.
  • The dealer is not allowed to make decisions about her hand. She must hit on 16 points and lower, and she must also hit on a soft 17. She must stay on a hard 17 and above.
  • There are bonus payments for special hands. The exact requirements and payouts vary from one casino to another.
  • Some casinos employ the OBBO rule. OBBO = Original Bets and Busted Only.
  • Some casinos employ the BB + 1 rule. BB + 1 = Busted Bets + 1.

Example of bonus payments for special hands

Payout Hand description
3 to 2 A 21 point hand consisting of five cards
2 to 1 A 21 point hand consisting of six cards
3 to 1 A 21 point hand consisting of seven cards or more
3 to 2 6 – 7 – 8 of at least two suits
3 to 2 7 – 7 – 7 of at least two suits
2 to 1 6 – 7 – 8 of the same suit, but not spades
2 to 1 7 – 7 – 7 of the same suit, but not spades
3 to 1 6 – 7 – 8 in spades only
3 to 1 7 – 7 – 7 in spades only
Big fixed amount bonus 7 – 7 – 7 of the same suit, when the dealer is showing a 7

You get the bonus payout on ordinary hands and on split hands, but not on hands that have been doubled. The big fixed amount bonus is an exception; it is not paid on split hands (nor doubled hands).

In some casinos, all the other players will receive a small “envy bonus” when the big fixed amount bonus is paid out to a player.

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