What is the Difference between Pontoon and Blackjack?

Even if you’re new to the gambling scene, you’re probably still familiar with the basic rules of Blackjack. The popular card game has become a fixture in casinos, films and pop culture over the years. You may not, however, be familiar with Blackjack’s slightly less common cousin, Pontoon. While they may appear extremely similar, Blackjack and Pontoon have a few important differences to take into account before deciding which game you’d prefer to play. Let’s take a look at a few of the most prominent differences between the popular casino titles.

Differences in Terminology

innerblackjack10032015One of the most obvious differences in the two games is the way you signify your play to the dealer. In Blackjack, ‘hit’ will let the dealer know that you want another card, but the same action is referred to as ‘twist’ in Pontoon. Similarly, ‘stand’ in Blackjack changes to ‘stick’ in Pontoon, and, if you want to ‘double down’ in Pontoon, you’ll want to say ‘buy’, which will double your bet and get you at least one more card.

Doubling Down
Pontoon separates itself from Blackjack by allowing players to double down, or ‘buy’, before taking multiple subsequent hits, or ‘twists’. Pontoon also allows players to double down with more than two cards in their hands, whereas, in Blackjack, players can only double down on their original two cards.

Forced Twists

In Blackjack, basic strategy may indicate that hitting on an eight is the right play, but the player always has the option to stand. By contrast, Pontoon rules state that players must twist if their hands contain a total of 14 or less.

Tie on a House Advantage

Blackjack rules indicate that a tie is a push, and bets are returned to players. Pontoon, on the other hand, favors the dealer on ties. In other words, you could attain a perfect score of 21 and still lose if the dealer draws the same. To account for the added house advantage, Pontoons, which feature an ace and any 10 value card, pay 2 to 1 odds, as opposed to the 3 to 2 odds paid in Blackjack.

The Five Card Trick

innerpontoon10032015Pontoon also features an additional way for players to win known as a five card trick. For this hand, players need to collect five cards totaling 21 or less. Paying 2 to 1 odds, the five card trick beats a non-pontoon 21. Blackjack, by contrast, simply rewards the players who are closer to 21 than the dealer.

Added Mystery

Players at the blackjack tables are at an advantage, as they can see one of the dealer’s cards when making a decision on whether to hit or stand. Pontoon players have no such luck. In this game, both of the dealer’s cards remain face down, adding a bit of mystery to the game and making strategies more difficult to follow.

Splitting Aces

In Blackjack, splitting aces eliminates the chances of a 3 to 2 payout by disqualifying hands from achieving blackjack. Pontoon players can still achieve a Pontoon after splitting aces, which leaves them in a better position to cash in on the game’s favorable 2 to 1 payouts.

While similar, Pontoon and Blackjack certainly have enough differences to keep players entertained. If you still aren’t sure which game you prefer, it’s a great time to give both a try!

Tonya Hollows

A wannabe professional poker and blackjack player. Incredibly positive and an overall rock n' roll kind of girl. She moved from Canada a few years ago to find new horizons, more related to her gambling skills. Ended up working as a casino hostess in Vegas and then became a full time writer for Palace of Chance.

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