How to Play
Pontoon is a game much like Blackjack, played with eight 52-card decks. The objective of the game is to get a hand that’s as close to 21 as possible, without going over.
You start with two cards, and so does the dealer. The dealer checks his cards for the winning Pontoon hand, but otherwise they remain face down. You have the choice of hitting, standing (only if your hand total is 15 or more), doubling or splitting (if your two cards match). Once you are happy with your hand, the dealer reveals his and hits or stands according to the house rules.
If there is a push, the dealer wins. The dealer must hit on a soft 17. Card values are just like Blackjack (Jacks, queens and kings are 10, ace is 1 or 11).
The Pontoon game table includes the playing area where the cards and played chips are displayed, the bet area that shows chips of available values, and the button area with the player’s action buttons.
Click on the chips to place your bet, and begin the hand.
The following action buttons are used:
- Deal/Rebet . This button is used to start the hand once you’ve placed your bet, or to quickly bet the same amount as last time.
- Hit . When you click this button, another card is dealt to you.
- Stand . When you click this button, you tell the dealer that you are happy with your hand. The dealer then reveals his cards and hits or stands as necessary.
- Double . If you believe that you will get a winning hand this time around (for example, if your current total is 11 and there’s a good chance the next card will be a ten; or you have four cards with a low total and want to take your chances with a Five Card Trick hand), you can click this button and double your bet. You can only use this button once per hand, but there is no limit to how many cards you can draw after doubling – as long as you don’t bust. You can also double after splitting.
- Split . If you start out with two cards with equal rank, you can split the hand in two. Your bet will be doubled, and another card drawn to each of the two hands. You can then play both hands against the same dealer’s hand. Only one of the split hands can be split again (up to three hands total).
You can use the following shortcut keys to speed up gameplay:
- Spacebar – to start a new game round (and rebet if you haven’t placed a bet manually)
- Number keys – to enter your bet amount
- Esc – to end the game and return to the lobby
Note on malfunctions: A malfunction voids all pays and plays.
The differences between Pontoon and Blackjack are:
- There are two hands that beat a regular 21: Pontoon (an ace and a ten or picture card) and Five Card Trick (when the player holds five cards without busting, no matter what the total value of the hand is). Both hands pay 2 to 1.
- Both the dealer’s cards are face down until the player stands or busts.
- There is no insurance option.
- In case of a tie, the dealer wins.
- At the beginning of a hand, the dealer will check his cards. If the dealer has a Pontoon, the dealer’s cards will be turned over right away and the player will lose his bet.
- The player cannot stand until they have a hand of at least 15.
- The player can draw as many cards as they like after they double.
- The player can only split cards with equal rank. For example you can split two eights or a queen and a king, both of which rank ten points.
- If you get an ace and a ten or a picture card in your split hand, it counts as Pontoon
Regular cards have rank value (2 is two points, 5 is five points, etc). Jack, queen and king are ten points. The ace is 1 point or 11 points.
- The dealer must hit on a soft 17 (two, three or four cards totalling 17, if one of them is an ace) or lower.
- The dealer must stand on a hard 17 (two, three or four cards totalling at least 17 if none of them is an ace) or higher.
- In case of a push, the dealer wins.
Hand Ranking and Payout
In descending order:
- Pontoon (Ace + 10-point card). Beats every other hand. Pays 2 to 1.
- Five Card Trick (Any five cards, as long as the total is not over 21). Beats every hand except Pontoon. Pays 2 to 1.
- 21 (Three or four cards totalling 21). Beats every hand except Pontoon and Five Card Trick. Pays even money.
- High Total (Two, three or four cards, as long as the total is not over 21). Beats every hand with a lower total, except Five Card Trick. Pays even money.
- Bust (Three or more cards totalling more than 21). Player loses the bet.