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How To Play Pontoon (Playing The Pontoon Card Game)


Pontoon, beloved by many card game enthusiasts, is often seen as Britain's take on the popular American game of Blackjack. However, it's not quite the same, and it comes with its own unique set of rules and strategic gameplay, making it a distinct and thrilling card game in its own right. 

In this in-depth guide by Mega Reel, we will explore the ins and outs of Pontoon, from its basic rules and gameplay to its similarities and differences with Blackjack. 

What Is A Pontoon?

Pontoon is a cherished card game that has its roots in the United Kingdom but has garnered popularity globally. Although it shares a few similarities with Blackjack, Pontoon carries its own unique rules and gameplay style, distinguishing it as its own separate game. 

Played with a standard 52-card deck, Pontoon can be enjoyed with three or more players. The primary objective of the game is to achieve a hand total as close to 21 as possible without exceeding it - a rule that it shares with Blackjack. However, there are several other elements that set it apart, which we will discuss further in this guide. 

How To Play Pontoon Cards

The game of Pontoon begins with one player assuming the role of the dealer or the "banker". This player is selected by drawing the highest card from a shuffled deck. Once the dealer is chosen, they deal one face-down card to each player, including themselves. The players are allowed to sneak a peek at their cards, but the dealer is not. 

Following the initial card dealing, the players place their bets. Then, a second card is dealt to each player. If any player has a combination of an Ace and a ten-value card, they have a 'Pontoon', the highest-ranking hand in the game, which they immediately reveal. 

The player to the dealer's left begins their turn, choosing to either 'twist' (draw additional cards) or 'stick' (retain their existing hand). This decision is typically based on their confidence in their current hand. 

After all the players have taken their turns, the dealer reveals their face-down card and competes against the remaining players. The player who wins the round not only collects their wager but also assumes the role of the dealer in the next round. 

What Are The Rules For Pontoon?

Despite its initial seeming complexity, the rules of Pontoon can be picked up with a bit of practice. Here are some of the key rules that govern the game: 

  • Card Values: All face cards (Jack, Queen, King) hold a value of 10 points, and Aces can either be worth 1 point or 11 points. The rest of the cards hold their face value.
  • Pontoon: A hand of 2 cards that totals 21 is known as a 'Pontoon', the highest-ranking hand in the game.
  • 5-Card Trick: The second highest hand in Pontoon is the '5-Card Trick', which consists of any five cards that total 21 or less.
  • Twisting and Sticking: Players can either 'twist' (draw extra cards) or 'stick' (end their turn with their existing hand).
  • Dealer Wins Ties: If a player and the dealer have hands of the same value, the dealer automatically wins.

Pontoon VS Blackjack - What's The Difference?

While Pontoon and Blackjack share a common objective of trying to reach a hand as close to 21 without going over, they are not identical. They differ in terms of gameplay, betting structure, and certain rules. 

For instance, in Blackjack, players and the dealer start with two cards, and they place their bets before any cards are drawn, while in Pontoon, players receive one card before placing bets. Moreover, the dealer (or banker) role can change each round in Pontoon, depending on who wins, unlike in Blackjack, where players compete against the house. 

Furthermore, while both games allow players to 'hit' (draw extra cards) or 'stand' (keep their existing hand), Pontoon introduces additional options like the 5-Card Trick. This rule, which does not exist in traditional Blackjack, can make Pontoon more strategically challenging and exciting. 


In conclusion, Pontoon presents an intriguing variation to the classic game of Blackjack. Its unique rules and strategic depth make it a fascinating card game that offers a refreshing change to card game enthusiasts. Whether you're a novice or a seasoned player, understanding the rules and strategies of Pontoon can add to your gaming experience. As always, remember to play responsibly and enjoy the game.