How to Play & Win at Pontoon Blackjack- Rules, Strategies & Tips

Pontoon Blackjack

Pontoon Blackjack

The game of Blackjack is thought to have been introduced in its current form in the early 1700s, it is widely considered that it was based on the game of Pontoon.

The 2 games are very similar in many ways which just a few small variations which are outlined below.

Some of the main ones are that both the Dealers cards are dealt face down, a 5 card hand – 5 cards where the value is 21 or less – is paid out at the same odds as Blackjack, and the Dealer wins if the scores are tied.

How to Play Pontoon Blackjack

• Pontoon normally uses 8 decks of cards, there are some variations however that use just 2

• All cards have the same value as in Blackjack – 10’s and picture cards are worth 10, Aces are 1 or 11 and all numbers are valued at their own amount

• The Dealer deals 2 cards face up to each Player and 2 face down to themselves. They always check to see if they have 21 – known as Pontoon – and if they do, the hand if over immediately and all bets lose – there is no Insurance or Push if a Player also has Pontoon

• The Player can stand on any value of 15 or greater, or a 5 card hand – anything below 15 and you need to ‘Hit’

• Players can ‘Hit’ at any point, including after ‘Doubling’. A Player with 2 to 4 cards can ‘Double’ at any time but just the once per hand, this is the same after ‘Splitting’.

• Any cards of the same value can be ‘Split’. A 10 and a King or Queen and Jack, for example, can be ‘Split’. Hands can be resplit once, including Aces. Players can still ‘Hit’ after ‘Splitting’ Aces – a 2 card hand worth 21 is still Pontoon even after ‘Splitting’

• The Dealer will ‘Stand’ on hard 17 (17 with no Ace) and above, they will ‘Hit’ on soft 17 (17 with an Ace) or below, they will also ‘Stand’ with a 5 card hand

• A winning hand of Pontoon or 5 card hand will pay 2 to 1, all other winning hands pay even money

• If the Player and Dealer are tied in terms of hand rank, the Dealer wins, there is no ‘Push’

Pontoon Blackjack table

As you will see from the above screenshot, the layout for a game of Pontoon is very similar to Blackjack.

Pontoon RulesRTP:99.62%Pontoon Pays:2 to 1Number of Decks:8Dealer Rule:Hit on soft 17Dealer Peek:YesInsurance:NoSurrender:NoSplit:YesRe-Split:YesDouble:YesDouble after Split:YesHit Split Aces:Just OnceSide Game:NoMultiple Hands:Yes


Pontoon Blackjack Strategy

As you can’t see either of the Dealers cards, the strategy for Pontoon Blackjack is vastly different to most versions of Blackjack.

The table below shows what you should do in each situation, taking into account that a 5 card hand pays the same as Pontoon.

Hard Hands – No Ace

H = Hit D = Double S = Stand

Hard Hands – With no Ace

Total CardsPlayer Total43221SSS20SSS19SSS18SSS17HSS16HSS15HSS14HHH13DHH12DHH11DDD10DDD9DDH8DHH7HH6HH5H4H

H = Hit D = Double S = Stand

Soft Hands – with an Ace

Total CardsPlayer Hand432A, 10DDSA, 9DDSA, 8DDSA, 7DHHA, 6DHHA, 5DHHA, 4DHHA, 3DHHA,2HH

H = Hit D = Double S = Stand


As you don’t get to see what card the Dealer has in Pontoon, we would only suggest Splitting Aces and 8’s. For all other hands, see standard chart above for your best move.

Pontoon Blackjack Tips

Pontoon is similar in many ways to Blackjack, but in others, such as not being able to see either of the Dealers cards and losing the hands if you tie with the Dealer, it is very different. Therefore, make use of the free play option most sites have to get used to the differences before you play for real money.

As you don’t have an idea what the Dealer has before you choose your decisions, stick as much as possible to the chart provided above as to the best strategy. In Blackjack, using your gut instinct is OK in some situations, but with Pontoon it is easier to get into bad positions as you are guessing what the Dealer could have, therefore it is imperative to concentrate more on your own hand.

Ensure you can afford to bet with the money you use, otherwise, the enjoyment will go out of the game especially if you start to lose.

Blackjack References:

Blackjack Rules, Strategy & Tips
Basics of Card Counting
Play Blackjack for Real

Author: Jacob Carter