Blackjack Pontoon - The Table Game's Australian Cousin
If you've ever visited or resided in Australia, I'm sure you're quite familiar with this game. The Australian version is very much like the North American Spanish 21 and offers really good odds for the players. Just like in Spanish 21, all tens have been removed so that all decks used in the game only contain 48 cards. If you'd like to learn more about Pontoon, have a read through the rules, strategy and more.
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The main difference between Spanish 21 and Australian Pontoon is that in the latter both dealer cards are undisclosed. This is a real setback for the players as the showing card of the dealer is usually the best source of information on which to base the in-game decisions. This, coupled with the fact that 4 ten-value cards already have been removed, should be enough for every odds-calculating blackjack player never to park his or her Gluteus Maximus even close to a Pontoon table.
Pontoon's Favorable Conditions
The reason why Australian Pontoon is one of the strategic players' favorites is all the bonus wagers and a variety of rule adjustments that axle the chances of winning toward the player.
Five-card 21's, Super Bonus payouts and late surrenders are all great reasons for choosing Australian Pontoon instead of a regular blackjack game. Unfortunately, this game is only available in South-East Asia and Australia.
The Online Version of Pontoon
When playing Pontoon online, regular 52-card decks are used so no tens have been removed. Usually, 8 decks are used. A Pontoon (a two card hand totaling 21, also known as a Natural or Blackjack in other Blackjack variants is the strongest hand possible but it is beaten by a dealer's Pontoon.
The next strongest hand is a five-card trick, which is basically all five card hands that haven't been busted. If you get a five-card trick totaling to 21, and the dealer a five-card trick hand totaling to 20 the dealer still wins the hand as the dealer wins all ties and all five-card tricks are of the same value.
If your hands have three or four cards and totals to 21 you still have a strong hand, but it is not as strong as a five-card trick or a Pontoon. The latter two pays 2 to 1, whilst a three or four-card 21 only pays 1 to 1.
One thing that differs in Pontoon in comparison to Blackjack is that a players hand is not valid unless it reaches a total of 15 or higher. In effect this means that you can't just stay (or stick as it is called in Pontoon) on hard hands ranging from 12 - 14 as you can in regular blackjack.
This means that even though you only get one card after splitting Aces, dealer will automatically deal you another card if your two-card hand doesn't reach a total of 15 or higher.
Here is our strategy chart of how to optimize your chances of winning in Pontoon. click the image to enlarge the chart.
One thing that the online version has adapted from the Australian live game is the game expressions.
It differs a bit from regular blackjack terminology, but you won't have any problem adjusting to the new lingo. Instead of "hit" you say "twist" and instead of "stay" you say "stick". The "Double Down" button has been replaced with a "Buy x2" icon.
Playing Blackjack Pontoon Online
You can play Pontoon online in most online casinos.
You will find them amongst the blackjack tables.