All about the right moves: Blackjack VS Pontoon

All about the right moves: Blackjack VS Pontoon


The difference between a casual and a serious cards player is that the first thinks Blackjack, 21, Pontoon & Crazy eights are the different names given to the same game Vs knowing that they’re different with their subtle intricacies.


1. To begin with, Blackjack was a game popularized by American casinos. Pontoon on the other hand is the British counterpart to the popular game 21, which inspired many, including blackjack.


2. Blackjack is usually played with an international 52-card deck sans the joker cards. It’s common practice for casinos to use several decks mixed together (called a shoe), to facilitate a speedy game and to make counting cards more difficult.

The number of decks is subjective and differs in different casinos, but there can be anything from two to maximum eight decks in the shoe. The frequency of re-shuffling also differs from casino to casino, and of course depends on the number of decks used.

Pontoon on the other hand, is usually, and can be played by any number of players from two upwards – the ideal number of players is 5 to 8 – using a standard 52 card pack. For a large number of players, say 8 or more, two 52 packs can be mixed together. The players also need a supply of money or chips for betting.


1. There are a few ways to win a blackjack hand, usually the rule of thumb is, a blackjack hand beats any other hand, also those with a total value of 21, but with more cards. Pontoon’s winning & variation possibilities are quite a few, such as:

  • The best hand of all is a Pontoon, which is 21 points in two cards – this can only consist of ace plus a picture card or ten.
  • Next best after a Pontoon is a Five Card Trick, which is a hand of five cards totaling 21 or less.
  • A hand of three or four cards worth 21 points beats everything else except a Pontoon or Five Card Trick.
  • Hands with 20 or fewer points and fewer than five cards rank in order of their point value – the nearer to 21 the better.
  • Hands with more than 21 points are bust and are worthless.
  • As a rule of thumb, if the banker and a player have equal valued hands, then the banker wins.


4. While in blackjack, the dealer is dealt one card face down, and another face up; as an interesting twist, in Pontoon, both the dealer’s cards are dealt face down! This adds quite a mystery to the game as it foils many strategies that players commonly use to outsmart the game


5. One of the most obvious differences in the two games is the terminologies used to signify your play to the dealer. In Blackjack, ‘hit’ will let the dealer know that you want another card, but for the same thing, it’s referred to as ‘twist’ in Pontoon. Again, ‘stand’ in Blackjack becomes ‘stick’ in Pontoon, and, if you want to ‘double down’ in Pontoon, you’ll want to say ‘buy’, which will have the result of doubling your bet and getting you at least one more card.


Here are some more terminologies that are distinct in both games:


Tie on a House Advantage


Blackjack rules indicate that a tie is a push, and bets are returned to players. Pontoon, on the other hand, favors the dealer on ties. In other words, you could attain a perfect score of 21 and still lose if the dealer draws the same. To account for the added house advantage, Pontoons, which feature an ace and any 10 value card, pay 2 to 1 odds, as opposed to the 3 to 2 odds paid in Blackjack.


Forced Twists


In Blackjack, basic strategy may indicate that hitting on an eight is the right play, but the player always has the option to stand. By contrast, Pontoon rules state that players must twist if their hands contain a total of 14 or less.


Doubling Down


Pontoon separates itself from Blackjack by allowing players to double down, or ‘buy’, before taking multiple subsequent hits, or ‘twists’. Pontoon also allows players to double down with more than two cards in their hands, whereas, in Blackjack, players can only double down on their original two cards.







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