How To Play Pontoon

If you’ve never played pontoon before you’re in for a real surprise. The game is an exciting variation on blackjack with some twists that allow for much more excitement at the table.

In this article, we explain for you how to play pontoon in order to make as much money as possible. Like blackjack, you can employ some pontoon strategy in order to maximize your chances to win and lower the house edge.

How To Play PontoonWe also cover pontoon rules, pontoon tips, and outline where you can play pontoon online for real money. More importantly, you’ll also find out some key pontoon tips and the way to exploit the game and the casinos that offer the game in order to make serious cash. Blackjack is a fun game, and the beauty of pontoon is that all the excitement from blackjack has been carried over and mixed with some other great rules in order to make the game more exciting, and in many cases, more favorable for you, the player.

So read on to learn all about this great game in this pontoon for dummies article. If nothing else, by the end of this article you’ll know how to play pontoon like a pro.

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Where To Play Pontoon

You have plenty of options when it comes to finding where to play pontoon. Many people are playing pontoon online these days, and you can also find the pontoon card game in many land-based casinos as well. This is particularly true in Asia and Australia. If you’re in the United States you’ll usually also find Spanish 21, which is similar to pontoon.

When you first start playing we recommend that you practice pontoon online for free before graduating to playing for real money. This way you’ll perfect the pontoon strategy we’ve outlined for you here.

Once you’re ready to play for real, check out online casinos for the best games and odds, and also search your local land-based casinos for good games. If you’re in the United States your best option will be online due to the fact the game just isn’t as popular in land-based casinos.

Online Pontoon  Advantages

  • You’ll get better odds and a lower house edge online because online casinos don’t have the overheads that land-based ones do.
  • Promotions and bonuses are much better online due to the extreme competition that online casinos have with each other. You can take advantage of these to push your dollars even further.
  • You can play anywhere, anytime. If you have a mobile device or computer you can literally log into online casinos from anywhere, anytime, and play pontoon in comfort.

Online Pontoon Disadvantages

  • You won’t enjoy the social side of the game. Online you won’t be able to share a beer with your fellow gamblers while trying to take as much as possible from the house.
  • Some sites are still dodgy. While online casinos have improved dramatically over time, you’ll still come across some dishonest establishments, so make sure you do plenty of research and follow the advice we provide in this article when you choose an online casino to play at.
  • It’s just not the same. While online play is amazing and you can practice pontoon online for free at many online casinos, it’s just not the same as sitting at the felt and seeing and feeling the cards. Live dealer games have come a long way in providing that same environment though, so make sure you check them out.

Land-based Casino Pontoon Advantages

  • You’ll usually have a lot more fun playing in a land-based casino because you’re with other people and playing together. The social side of the game is much better.
  • Because you’re in a casino, playing at a real table with real cards, it just feels much more natural and is a better experience overall.
  • While this could be a disadvantage also, playing in a land-based casino limits the amount you can play. If you have control and bankroll management issues this could be a positive.

Land-based Casino Pontoon Disadvantages

  • You have to travel. Unless you live in a casino, and some lucky people do in Las Vegas, you’ll need to travel to get to the casino to play. Online you can play anywhere, anytime; even from the comfort of your bed at home.
  • The odds aren’t good for the player. Land-based casinos have to pay electric bills, staff wages, government and council fees, and much more in order to operate. Because of this, they need to charge the player more in order to generate a decent profit. This means the house edge in most games will be worse than you find online.
  • Casinos sometimes aren’t nice places. They attract some unsavory people and just aren’t nice to be in. If you’re unlucky enough to live near a casino like this you’ll have to deal with it all in order to play pontoon.

Best Online Casino For Pontoon Card Game

Best Online Casino For Pontoon Card GameIf you’re looking for the best possible pontoon game with the most favorable odds you should always look at the best pontoon online casinos. You have plenty of options and we’ve put together a small list below which shows the best picks. Online is always better than land-based, as the house edge will usually be lower, and you can play anywhere, anytime in comfort.

If you want to play online but also want that land-based feeling, then look for online pontoon with a live dealer. In these games, you’ll be playing pontoon online for real money via a video link to a real dealer in a casino with real cards and a table.

This incorporates the benefits of playing pontoon online with the social side of gaming that you can find in a real casino. So you’ll still get the best odds and lowest house edge while playing real live pontoon.
This is a great option and is truly the future of online casino gaming. You’ll mostly only find live dealer games offering blackjack and not pontoon itself, but keep searching, as they’ll surely turn up soon.

Best US Based Online Casinos for Pontoon

Due to the regulatory environment that casinos must navigate in the United States, you won’t find too many options when it comes to online casinos offering Pontoon. However, with this regulation come safer and more trustworthy online casinos for you to play at. Below we’ve listed some of the best options for US players:



Overall Payout

Live Dealer

Planet 7 Casino




Drake Casino




Mandarin Palace




Best International Online Casinos for Pontoon

If you live elsewhere in the world or are willing to roll the dice in the US, then you’ll have a lot more choice when it comes to finding the best online casinos for pontoon play. We’ve listed below some of the better casinos which have great payout rates and reputations so that you can play for longer and maximize your chances of winning:

Casino Bonus Overall payout Live Dealer
Betfair $400 n/a Yes
BetVictor 200 Euros 95.87% Yes

How To Play Pontoon – Basic Card Game Rules

At the fundamental level pontoon is similar to blackjack, so if you know how to play that game you’ll know how to play pontoon also. This doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll play it well though. If you want to know how to win at pontoon card game then read on.

Pontoon basic rules are almost the same as blackjack with four major differences, and an array of other minor ones. The dealer doesn’t have a hole card in pontoon, meaning you can win with 21 anytime straight away, without having to wait to see if the dealer gets a natural blackjack.

Another major difference is that as a player you can’t stand on 14 or less and must continue to hit until you at least hit 15. The game is played using Spanish decks of cards. A Spanish deck has only 48 cards, with all of the tens removed. Finally, in pontoon, you lose if you push with the dealer, which happens when you both finish with the same total.

Pontoon Game Rules

For those of you who may be new to blackjack and pontoon, we’ll now give you a quick Pontoon 101 class with three basic rules worth remembering when playing pontoon.

Pontoon Game Rule Number 1 -You first make a bet which is made in the hope that you beat the dealer and win the hand.

Pontoon Game Rule Number 2 – You then get two cards. From here your aim is to get more than the dealer without going over 21. You also win if the dealer goes over 21 and you don’t.

Pontoon Game Rule Number 3 – You can hit to receive more cards, and stand once you achieve at least 15 if you wish to stop with the total you have. If you hit and go over 21 in total then you lose. If you beat the dealers total with your total, then you win. If the dealer beats you, you lose. Finally, if the dealer busts then you win, provided you stood with 21 or less.

Those are the pontoon basic rules and will equip you so that you know how to pay pontoon. Some other rules come in to play; including doubling, splitting, and dealer hit and stand conditions, which we’ll cover in more detail in the next section on pontoon strategy.

Pontoon Casino Strategy

In order to maximize your chances of winning big, we strongly recommend that you follow pontoon strategy when playing. This will ensure that you’re reducing the pontoon house edge as much as possible, which sits around 0.38% at most online casinos.

Top 5 RulesIn order to do this, you can follow pontoon optimal strategy easily by using one of the many strategy cards that are available online or in land-based casino stores. Some online casinos even provide pontoon strategy advice as part of the table interface which makes it simple to follow. You can find an online pontoon strategy chart here.

While pontoon optimal strategy is simple to follow on these charts, which show you what action to take in any given situation at the table in relation to the two initial cards that you’re dealt if you come across any pontoon betting strategy tips that don’t agree you should avoid them.

You can’t alter your bets in any way to improve your chances of winning. The best way to go about it is to follow pontoon strategy and to consistently bet at the level that matches your bankroll management strategy over the course of the session. Prior to playing you should also have a good sense of pontoon card values, which are similar to blackjack.

Top 5 Pontoon Strategies

Pontoon Strategy Number 1 – Use a pontoon optimal strategy chart to make playing decisions on each hand. This way you don’t need to memorize anything at all and can simply refer to the chart.

Pontoon Strategy Number 2 – Don’t change your bet sizing or follow any pontoon betting strategies other than your chart – these don’t work. Just play consistently in relation to your bets and follow the chart diligently and you should win.

Pontoon Strategy Number 3 – Pontoon means different things in different countries, so make sure you know which version of pontoon you’re playing before you start. If you play in online casinos make sure the pontoon game is actually pontoon, and not Spanish 21.

Pontoon Strategy Number 4 – Practice pontoon online first before playing for real money. This will help you to become familiar with the game and you’ll also learn from mistakes without having to pay for them thus preserving your bankroll.

Pontoon Strategy Number 5 – When you play pontoon online, which we recommend as opposed to land-based casinos, try to find a site which provides you with a pontoon strategy chart as part of the game interface. This will make it easy for you to follow perfect pontoon strategy and to win more often.

Pontoon Odds

The odds in pontoon are quite simple and you don’t need to have an in-depth knowledge of them in order to play. The pontoon odds of winning are best described by the house edge.

At the best online casinos, you’ll be up against a house edge of 0.38% when you implement the optimal strategy. This means you’ll get a return of 99.62% when you play. Those are your pontoon odds of winning. So as you can see you’ll need to mix in some luck to become a winning pontoon player. The edge is so small that this is possible, but you’ll need all your lucky charms with you.

If you want to have the pontoon house edge explained to you then the most important thing to understand is that it changes according to the house rules of the casino you’re playing at, and also it fluctuates according to how you’re playing.

That’s why it’s important to follow a pontoon optimal strategy chart.

Top Three Strategies To Improve Odds Playing Pontoon

  • Always follow an optimal strategy chart when playing pontoon. Otherwise, you’re going in blind and the house edge will increase.
  • Never play at a casino that has weird rules that increase the house edge by even a few margins of a percent. This will hurt you and will result in more losses.
  • Take advantage of all online casino bonuses and promotions as these can be factored into the overall house edge calculations and can actually result in some positive expectation play in the short term.

Here are some specific numbers concerning how different rules variations change the house edge. Most pontoon games use an eight deck shoe. If the casino uses a four deck shoe it lowers the house edge by .08% and if they use a six-deck shoe it decreases the house edge by .03%.

If you can only make a double down wager on two cards instead of any number of cards it increases the house edge by .16%. Rules variations that restrict which pairs you can split and how many times you can split also change the house edge. The more hands you can split and the higher the number of times you can split the better.

How To Play Pontoon And Win – Avoid Mistakes

Attention - Avoid MistakesThe main problem when it comes to pontoon and making mistakes that result in sometimes big losses is when people change how they’re betting and also let environmental factors impact their game. If you want to take your gaming seriously you’ll need to avoid these things so that you don’t make careless mistakes. We’ll show you how to play pontoon and win, and also how to play pontoon for beginners, but you need to avoid certain things, otherwise that all falls apart.

Although the social side of gaming can be fun, make sure you don’t drink too much when you play like that will hurt your chances. When you play pontoon in casinos make sure you just have a few drinks and stick to the strategy charts. If you play pontoon at home for real money then the same thing applies. When you play for real money you need to ensure you have solid bankroll management strategies in play along with your optimal strategy to give yourself the best chance to win.

Many players have lost small fortunes by making small and careless mistakes in the game, some of which we’ll outline for you in the next section.

Worst Pontoon Mistakes

We’ll now list pontoon card game common mistakes which you could hear on a podcast episode of casino pit boss confessions one day. Sometimes you’ll experience pontoon dealer mistakes, but they’re so few and far between in land-based casinos and nonexistent at online casinos that we won’t discuss them here.

Instead, we’ll discuss the mistakes that players make. If you’re looking for a guide on how to win at pontoon, follow everything we’ve covered in this article and make sure you avoid the following five pontoon card game common mistakes:

Pontoon Mistake Number 1 – Playing the wrong type of pontoon. By far this will be the biggest mistake you can make. Because there are different versions of pontoon around the world and online make sure you’re playing the game you know. Otherwise, you’ll be implementing the wrong strategy.

Pontoon Mistake Number 2 – Forgetting that ties lose. In blackjack, if you tie with the dealer you get your initial bet back. In pontoon, you lose. Make sure you remember this when you’re playing as it has an impact on how far you want to push it before standing.

Pontoon Mistake Number 3 – Know the rules. Every casino, particularly land-based ones, try to tinker with the rules to make the game less favorable for you. Make sure you look into this and ask the pit boss or dealer first before playing. Even a minor rule change can turn the game from a favorable one into a carnival game.

Pontoon Mistake Number 4 – Don’t blame other players at the table. This is really just common courtesy, but it needs to be said that you should never criticize another player at the table for the action they take, even if it results in you losing where you may have otherwise won. If it worries you that much then stand up and walk away to another table.

Pontoon Mistake Number 5 – Know the card values. You must learn what the card values are before you play, and you should also hone your basic math skills so you know what you have at any point in the hand. This will help you make the best decisions and will mean you avoid embarrassing situations where you should have taken further action in order to improve your chances of winning.

Pontoon – Tips For Playing At Online Casinos

We’ll now show you just how to play pontoon at online casinos. It’s easy, and most importantly is a lot of fun and even more, when you use some of the tips we will describe below.

You can play pontoon for real money online, or even practice pontoon online for free in order to sharpen your skills and become a better player. Both are great options and we always recommend playing online over playing at a live casino. Although you can’t yet find online casino pontoon with live dealer games, they will come soon and you can currently play blackjack this way.

The world of live casinos often brings along with it unfavorable rules and etiquette that just doesn’t apply in the online world. Even in live dealer games online you’ll still find better rules for the player. On top of this online casino pontoon etiquette all but doesn’t apply like it would in a live environment.

For example, wearing pants when playing online is optional. If you were to play without pants in a live casino it surely wouldn’t last long! Jokes aside, online is best for so many things in our world, and playing online pontoon is just the same. Now, read on if you want to know how to play pontoon at online casinos successfully.

Pontoon Game Variations

As we’ve covered a lot in this guide, you can find many variations of pontoon, and the game itself is a blackjack variant. If you’re playing online you’ll come across many different versions of blackjack and pontoon, all of which have slightly different rules and gameplay styles. This is a great thing and it means you’ll get plenty of choice in finding a 21 card game that suits you.

The most common pontoon game variations you’ll come across are the Australia style of pontoon, Spanish 21, and good old blackjack. These are all available in the online casinos that we listed above.
These variations of pontoon at online casinos will all have better odds for the player than you usually find in a live casino, and you’ll also have much more choice online. Pontoon games for real money are widely available and so are the many variations of this great game, so make sure you search far and wide to find the best games for you.

Most importantly, when playing a pontoon game variation make sure you know the rules and follow the relevant optimal strategy chart.

Practice Pontoon Online For Free

If you take nothing else from this entire guide except this, you’ll be on the right path. It’s best to make sure that you practice pontoon online for free first before you start playing in a live or online casino for real money.

Almost all online casinos allow you to play online pontoon for free with play money. This is a great way to learn the game, optimal strategy, and to learn from mistakes. Once you start playing for real money and stop your online pontoon for free, you’ll make a lot more money by doing this. So, please practice pontoon online for free first, if only for a few hours.

Playing Pontoon Against Live Dealer

If you want to connect the live casino world with the online casino experience, then you should try to find live dealer blackjack. Unfortunately, at the moment live dealer pontoon doesn’t exist, but this will surely come soon.

Many online casinos allow you to start playing for real money with a live dealer on many of the most popular games. When you eventually play pontoon with a live dealer you’ll be connected through a video to an actual dealer at a felt table who will deal cards for you and take actions based on your digital instructions.

This is really cool and is becoming more and more popular online. So if you want the best of both worlds then find live dealer games at online casinos and play some blackjack, and most importantly let them know you’d like to see them offer live dealer pontoon soon.

Choosing A Reputable Online Casino To Play Pontoon

When you’re looking for an online casino for pontoon, make sure you do a lot of research first about that casino. While the industry has cleaned up a lot, you’ll still come across some dishonest online operators.

So check out player reviews and third-party certifications before you deposit money and start playing. Choosing an online casino for real money to play pontoon is easy, but it’s always worth spending a few hours first to make sure you aren’t risking your hard earned cash in the wrong way. That’s why you should follow this advice on how to pick trusted casinos to play pontoon.

Pontoon Card Game Online – How To Play

We’ll now outline how to play pontoon at online casinos easily and quickly. Online pontoon play rules don’t differ too much from live games, so if you’ve had experience there you won’t have to change much.

Pontoon online table rules will be readily available on the game interface, so make sure you read them first before starting. On top of this, online pontoon play rules are also widely available online, so you can find them that way also. To complement this, we’ve listed five steps below on how to play pontoon at online casinos to help you on this journey:

Playing Pontoon Step 1 – First, you need to create an online casino account at a reputable site that offers pontoon games. When you do this make sure you sign up for all the bonuses and promotions they offer.

Playing Pontoon Step 2 – Second, if you don’t know how to play and haven’t practiced make sure you practice online for free first before playing for real money. Hopefully, this is available on the site you signed up with in step 1; if not just do a simple search online and you’ll be practicing before long.

Playing Pontoon Step 3 – Now that you’re ready to play, deposit some cash from your wallet on to the table according to a solid bankroll management strategy and start playing. You’ll want to make consistent bets throughout your session.

Playing Pontoon Step 4 – When you’re playing make sure you have an optimal strategy chart on hand with you on your second monitor, or printed out on paper next to you so you can make your decisions quickly and properly.

Playing Pontoon Step 5 – Have fun and take notes of anything important that happens in your session. If you make any mistakes write them down so you can improve on them next time and avoid them. Also, make sure you write down how well you did in the session for your bankroll management strategy.

Pontoon is really a great game, and now you have all the tools and information you need to do well at this game, and hopefully make a lot of money.

History Of Pontoon Card Game

The history of pontoon is quite a simple one considering it’s primarily a blackjack variant. The game is similar to many other 21 card game variants where the goal is to beat the dealer by getting more than them without busting or having the dealer bust while you don’t.

Pontoon is derived from a French word, Vingt-et-un. Most people believe that the game was originally created by the French. Many theorize that it was named after a type of boat, also called a pontoon, used by the French military hundreds of years ago.

The game itself is most popular in Australia and Asia, albeit a slight variant to the standard game of pontoon we cover here. But you can still play in many casinos in the United States and you can also enjoy this game by playing pontoon for real money in casinos around the world.

Pontoon is a descendant of Spanish 21, which is what is played under the name of pontoon in some parts of the world, with some very minor rule changes. We cover all of the differences and variations for you in this article. The history of pontoon is short, but the game itself is long in stature and fun.

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