The Differences Between Pontoon and Blackjack

Blackjack might be the best-known version of 21 but there are plenty of other flavors. Pontoon and blackjack are basically cousins and those familiar with the former will get to know the latter very quickly.

The key difference with online pontoon is that the dealer doesn’t show any of his cards. In blackjack, he shows one face-up card when the cards are dealt, which allows the player to strategize accordingly.

In pontoon, you have to rely on your own luck and skill. You can still hit, split, double-down or stand, and the goal is to finish higher than dealer without busting. Let’s have a closer look at this member of the blackjack family:

Rules & Objectives

Pontoon is similar to blackjack as games are played with two decks of cards, and the cards are reshuffled after each and every hand.

Dealers have always had to hit on a soft 17 and they win all ties. They can also win with a five-card total of less than 21 (player can do the same).

The objective is exactly the same as blackjack: get as close to 21 without going over while still having a higher total than the dealer. If you can pull it off, then you win the amount you staked originally.


The payouts are fairly straightforward in Pontoon but there are a couple of minor differences compared to blackjack.

Starting with the familiar, players can double their stake on regular wins (1:1). So if you bet $50 on your hand to start and you win, then you take $100 back.

The differences come in with some incentive bonuses. For example, if you have a Pontoon (21), then you earn a 2:1 payout. In blackjack, hitting a blackjack pays out a little bit less 3:2. Also, if you manage to make a five-card hand without busting, you also earn a 2:1 payout whereas blackjack doesn’t reward you for that.

Playing a system

Pontoon is a game of math, so you can figure out the best move at each step of the game. Most experienced players do exactly that and stick to a regimented system while the inexperienced ones who play pontoon online can use a simple odds sheet to guide them along. A list of the odds can be found online or in strategy books and that will help you decide what to do depending on which cards you have.

In many cases, this type of regiment can reduce the house’s edge to about half of a percent and produce some of the best odds of winning in a casino. At the same time, you have to weigh whether you want to play pontoon like a robot or whether you want to have some fun. If you leave everything to the system, then you’re not making any decisions yourself but you are increasing your chances to win.