Pontoon Card Game – How to Win Pontoon

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Updated on: May 19th, 2022

pontoon-blackjackPontoon is considered a variation of blackjack, while others just consider is a unique game. However, we owe the Aussies one for creating Pontoon by from the American blackjack game, Spanish 21. The game operates on the same principles that 21 or blackjack uses.

Pontoon also comes in two variants which are called by various names. However, the main game is more popular worldwide. The aim of the card game is to have a hand of cards that does not exceed the value of 21.

If the hand exceeds that value the player busts and loses. As with variants of any game there are some fundamental difference to this game. We will outline the differences between pontoon and blackjack. Not only will we look at gameplay differences, we examine how strategy and betting differs.

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Pontoon Card Game – How to Play

The card game also called Pontoon can be played against other players not the house or casino. Where there is no banker, first round of cards is dealt and when one player reaches 21 first, he/she becomes the banker. The banker reveals his one card and the other players make a play based on the banker’s exposed card. All players get two cards face up. Each player wants a hand that is higher than the banker’s but less than or equal; to 21. So that’s the main idea behind pontoon.



Pontoon Card Rules

Card Values

  • The numerical cards carry their face values
  • There are no number 10 cards
  • K, Q, J have a value of 10
  • Aces have a value of 1 or 11
  • Aces can only be split once
  • The value 21 is called a pontoon and when a player gets an ace and a K, Q, or J they have an automatic pontoon with an instant payout.

How to Win Pontoon

The following hands are the best hands in order of importance:

  • The winning hand in Pontoon is an automatic blackjack or hand value of 21 made up of an ace and a face card or a 10.
  • The Five Card Trick is the next best hand which is made up of five cards totaling 21 or less. The closer to 21 the better.
  • A hand of  21 made up of three or four cards worth 21 points .
    Five cards or less making up 20 points or less but close to 21 .

Play Pontoon Blackjack

In the event that you do not have pontoon or cards to the value of 21 you have the following game play options


The option to surrender allows players to get half their bet back. Players usually take the option to surrender when the banker has an ace or a picture card, i.e. a K, Q or J. However even if a player surrenders should the banker have a Pontoon there is nothing that the player will receive.


Players stay, that is do not request additional cards and remain in the game if they are happy with the total value of their cards. This option is often chosen by players with a high value that they are confident will win.


Players who still want to play and are not satisfied with the value of their hand. Players are allowed to Hit as many times as they like as long as they do not bust, that is go over the value of 21

Double Down

If players are confident enough, they can double their wager, but they limit how many times they can hit after wards. They will only receive one additional card.


When a player gets two cards of the same value, say two sixes they have the option to split those two cards into different hands. Once they are split each card gets an additional hit and each hand must have a separate bet equal to the initial bet. The new hands that have been formed can play as any other hand. Players can stay, hit double down or even split again.

Side Bet

Pontoon allows an additional side bet which wins whenever the additional side cards are a pair.

Pontoon Card Game FAQs

How do you play pontoon card game?

Each player including the dealer gets 2 cards one at a time. All except may peek at their first card before making a bet. After the dealer gets his second card and all reveal their cards players may make an additional play or surrender. The winning hand is a blackjack 21.

Is Blackjack the same as pontoon?

Pontoon is a variation of blackjack so there is obviously a difference. In pontoon players have the option to look at the first card before making a bet. There is also the option for surrender, and multiple splits. Additionally, there is a side pair bet in Pontoon which is not always available in the main blackjack game.

Can you bluff in 21?

There’s no way to bluff in any blackjack game especially because all cards are revealed throughout the game.

Is Ace high or low in Pontoon?

An ace is both high and low depending on what gives the player a better advantage.

Does a 5 card trick beat anything?

Yes a 5 card trick beats a 21 hand made up of 3 or 4 cards and any other hand except a blackjack made up of 2 cards.

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