Pontoon card game is a British version of Twenty One or Blackjack, as it is known in most US casinos, though it can sometimes be easily mixed up with Australian Ponton which is actually a twin-brother of Spanish 21. The game was derived from Vingt et Un, which was a French game. There are several different variations of the pontoon card game which make it more interesting.
The objective, cards and players
Any number of people, more than two can play pontoon but it is the most enjoyable with five to eight players when using a standard pack of 52 cards. When there are more players, two decks can be used. Also, the players would need a supply of chips or money to place the bets.
All the cards have values, the ace is worth 11 or 1 as chosen by the holder, the tens, jacks, queens and kings are worth ten and the remaining cards are worth their face value. The main aim of the player is to form a hand where the total value of the cards is 21 or as close to it as possible without going over it.
One player would be designated as a banker and would have an advantage. Given below are a few basic rules of the game:
- The Pontoon, which is 21 value is the best hand in the game and it can only consist of a picture card or ten and an ace.
- The Five Card Trick is the next best hand which is a hand of five cards with a total of 21 or less than that.
- A hand which consists of four or three cards with a total of 21 would beat all the other hands except for five card trick or a pontoon.
- All the hands with a value of 20 or less and fewer than a total of five cards would be ranked in order of their value.
- All the hands which are more than 21 are worthless and are bust.
When the player and the banker have equal value hands, the banker would win.
Pontoon is quite a simple game but there are quite a lot of variations which are as listed below:
- In some games only the aces are allowed to be split.
- In some games, the player should have at least 16 points in order to stick.
- In a few games, after all the players have made an initial bet the banker would look at his/her own first card and then decide to double the bets. What this means is that the final payments are all doubled.
- The payout in all the pontoon games would vary.
- There is another version known as the Royal Pontoon where the hand of three sevens, when held by a player is known as a royal pontoon is considered to be the best hand and would be paid treble stakes.
- Some games have a pontoon which consists of a picture and an ace and this hand would beat a pontoon consisting of a ten and an ace. There could be additional rules relating to this variation.