Have you ever played the casino card game Pontoon? It’s a game that was hugely popular in the United Kingdom and that’s spread around the world. Pontoon was the third most popular card game in Britain behind only Rummy and Whist.

The game used to be called Vingt-Un but it now called Pontoon or twenty-one. It first appeared in the second half of the 18th century in France, Britain, and Prussia. There were no formal rules until the game became popular in Britain in 1800.

Pontoon as we know it now gained popularity among soldiers fighting in the First World War. The Pontoon name was used regularly from 1939 onwards. Online casinos offer Pontoon despite it being considered an informal family game.

Pontoon Is Not A Form of Blackjack

Many people make the same mistake of thinking Pontoon is a version of Blackjack. Both games look strikingly similar but they are completely different. The game is played with a standard 52-card deck with the jokers removed. Aces are either 1 or 11, kings, queens, and jacks score 10. Pip cards score their face value.

The aim of the game is to score 21. Doing this with an ace and a court card or ace and a ten is called a natural or a natural vingt-un.

A Pontoon game starts with everyone drawing a card. The highest card becomes the dealer, which is also called the banker. Everyone receives a card face, looks at it, and places a stake. This can be anything up to the agreed limit.

The dealer is allowed to double the size of the wager once they’ve looked t their card. The dealer deals a second card to every player. Anyone who has a natural declares it immediately and exposes their cards. This is paid three-times the wager unless the dealer also has a natural, then they take the pot.

The player closest to the dealer’s left wins the hand if there are multiple naturals dealt. Whoever wins with a natural becomes the dealer on the next hand.

What Happens Next?

Naturals are uncommon so most games progress as follows. Players can buy or twist more cards. Buying a card sees the player place more wagers (as large or small as they wish) and they receive their card face down. Twisting results in a card received face up. Be aware that you can’t twist once you’ve bought a card.

The player stands when they’re satisfied with their holding. Going over 21 means you have bust and the dealer takes your wager.

This is where it can get lucrative for the dealer. He receives single stakes from anyone with a natural, double stakes from any player who has 21 or five and under, and treble stakes from anyone else, if the dealer has a natural.

Things are slightly different if the dealer has 12 or five and under. He receives a single stake from anyone who has the same and double from everyone else.

The dealer pays double to anyone with 21 or five and under and single stakes to anyone who beats hit total. He receives single stakes from anyone who scores less than him.

This payout system seems complicated but it’s easy once you get the hang of it. Furthermore, playing Pontoon at an online casino sees all the payouts taken care of for you.

To Summarise

Pontoon looks like Blackjack on the surface but is a completely different game. You should strive to get a natural 21 because this opens up more payout options. Reaching 21 without a natural is the next most attractive option. The best thing about Pontoon, unlike blackjack, is you can still win by having a low score. Hitting exactly 12 or having five and under often yields a payout.