Pontoon is a popular card game you can play today for real money at hundreds of licensed casino sites. It’s a variant of blackjack and was originally called Vingt-Un.
It’s pretty much the same as any standard blackjack game, and the only real difference is that some versions come with a few additional side bets. If you want to learn more about playing pontoon/blackjack, you’ve come to the right place.
Here is a useful guide on the basics of playing the pontoon card game.
Why is it called pontoon?
According to popular belief, the name ‘Pontoon’ derives from World War 2 in Britain, when soldiers played a French version of blackjack called Twenty-One, or Vingt-Un as it’s pronounced in French – a game which dates back to 18th century France, Prussia, and Britain.
The name ‘pontoon’ is basically a corrupted version of the original game’s name. It’s an alternative name that’s still in use today, although only a handful of market-leading online casino software providers and game development studios have called any of their online casino blackjack games pontoon.
How old do I have to be to play pontoon at online casinos, and which casinos have the best pontoon games?
To play pontoon or any other blackjack games at today’s best online casinos, the minimum age required to play often depends on which country you are based in. It’s usually 18, but in the US, it’s 21, and in Canada, it’s 19.
Instead of randomly typing in phrases like ‘have fun playing pontoon card game’ or ‘which casino sites have the best pontoon games’ into your preferred search engine to find a suitable online casino that has a range of blackjack games available, one of the most trusted sites you can turn to in 2023 is the official AskGamblers.com website.
This trusted iGaming review site has a complete list of more than 1,000 fully licensed and regulated online casinos with several popular blackjack games to choose from, some of which also have the actual pontoon variant.
Examples of some of today’s highest-rated blackjack/pontoon casino sites that have been carefully handpicked and expertly reviewed are the following:
- Betway Casino
- Trada Casino
- Miami Dice Casino
- Bet365 Casino
- Mr Play Casino
- Knight Slots Casino
- BetVictor Casino
- Monopoly Casino
- Highbet Casino
- PlayFrank Casino
Depending on which jurisdiction/country/region you are based in will determine exactly which online casinos you have access to. For example, a US player visiting the Ask Gamblers website would see a different list of online casinos than a UK player would see when visiting the website.
In other words, the site uses Geo-targeting software to bring you the best/most relevant list of blackjack sites.
Similarly, Canadian players would see a slightly different list of casinos to what South African players would see, and so on. However, a handful of online casinos welcome players from most countries.
When playing pontoon or blackjack at these sites, you can find computer-generated games that use RNGs to determine the results and state-of-the-art live dealer games that don’t use RNGs. All of the games work equally well on smartphones, tablets, laptops, and desktop computers.
How to Play Pontoon
If you’ve ever played any blackjack game, then you will easily be able to play a pontoon game. It’s played with a standard 52-card deck, no jokers included, and the only person you have to beat is the dealer.
The ace can be worth 1 or 11 points, depending on the situation, and the royalty cards (king, queen, and jack) are all worth 10 points. The remaining cards, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10, are all worth their face value in points.
Therefore, a 5 + jack would be worth 15 points, an ace + 7 would be worth 18 points (or 7 points, depending on how you use the ace), and a king + king would be worth 20 points, and so on.
The best possible hand you could be dealt on those first two cards is called a ‘natural blackjack.’ It’s when you are dealt an ace and a royal card (also known as a face card).
To begin with, the player(s) and the dealer are both dealt 2 cards, and the aim is to add the value of your cards together to see what total you have.
You can take another card to try to improve the value of your hand because the golden number you need to try to reach (without exceeding this number) is 21 points.
If you or the dealer exceeds 21 points, the person with 21+ points will immediately lose the hand. It’s known as going ‘bust.’ If you want to take another card, click or tap the ‘hit’ button, and if you are happy with your value and want to see if you have beaten the dealer, hit ‘stand.’ It’s that simple.
In most pontoon games, you can place additional side bets that have the potential to pay out big. However, side bets in blackjack can often be risky and don’t always guarantee a return.
The most common pontoon side bets you may want to do more research on are double-down and split. Some variants also let you take insurance, but the experts never recommend this.