How to Play Pontoon
Pontoon is a card game that was made popular in the UK and is now making its way to the U.S. It is a variant of the American game Blackjack and was originally based on the French card game Vingt-et-un.
To get the most out of this game it is best to play 5-8 players, but it can be played with as few as two. This game is a 5 card version of Blackjack where the player who gets 21 or the highest total without going over (bust), and beats the dealers hand wins. Bankers also always win in a tie situation.
To deal Pontoon first you need to choose a banker, which is most often done by drawing the highest card. Then the dealer will deal one card face down to each player starting with the player on the left and going around until the dealer lays his/her own card faced down.
The bets are then placed by all players except the banker and another card is dealt face down around the table. Each player aside from the dealer may look at their cards.
The scoring of Pontoon is very similar to Blackjack. The face cards are scored at face value and then 10’s or better are each worth 10 points. An ace is either a 1 or 11. The total value of all the cards most equal 21 or less and must be higher than any other player, including the dealer to win. For example, if you have a 10, 5, and 2 with the dealer having a 8,2,4,2 then you will win as your cards equal higher than the dealer without going over 21.
The very best hand you can get is called a Pontoon; it is where you get an ace and a 10 pt card in the initial deal. Just like getting a blackjack in the American version. Pontoon is one of two ways to get double stakes.
The other way is to get what is called a five card trick. This is where you get five cards without going over 21 points. A pontoon is better than a five card trick will beat any 21 with less than five cards, regardless if the five card trick is 21 or less. The next best hand is a 3 or 4 card 21 that will beat everything except a Pontoon or Five Card Trick.
If a banker has a Pontoon then all players lose immediately, if a banker does not have a Pontoon, then the other players will have quite a few options to win the hand.
To get another card you must either place another bet 1-2 times your initial bet by tell the banker "I'll buy one". This card will be placed face down, you can keep buying cards until you have five cards, or you can get an additional card face up that does not change the stake or bets by telling the banker "Twist me one".
You can twist until you get 21 or get to five cards. If you get to 15 points or higher, but less than 21 you can tell the banker "stick" and they will know that you do not want any more cards.
The final way to play is if you receive two cards of the same suit, you can split the cards, meaning you flip them face up and place an additional bet that is equal to your initial bet.
The dealer will then place a card face down on each hand, and you will keep playing the two hands with the rules and strategies given above.