Pontoon for Beginners: The Easy Guide to Vingt-et-Un for Novices

Pontoon for Beginners: The Easy Guide to Vingt-et-Un for Novices

Staff Writer
February 13, 2024

Pontoon for Beginners Guide

Pontoon is a card game with similar rules to blackjack – but it’s decidedly not blackjack. Join us for a quick rundown of pontoon game rules, bets and payouts. We’ll show you how to play pontoon – and give a few pointers if you are just starting out.

How Pontoon Came to Be

Before earning its name shared with floating bridges, Pontoon was called Vingt-Un. It’s a Spanish gambling game that came over to France, Germany, and the UK during the 18th century. A couple of decades later, it reached the North American continent as well.

However, it was the UK audience that transformed the game and made it into what it is now – a popular family game often played across the UK households. The rules are simple, so it is easy to get picked up by novices. However, its proximity to Vingt-et-Un is what makes many players constantly confuse it with blackjack, but the two games actually have very little in common.

An important thing to note about Pontoon that there are many variations to the rules – and thus some variants like Spanish 21 –  our guide might not apply 100% to the game of Pontoon you pick out. Still, we made sure to go as in-depth as possible, so expect a comprehensive guide on Pontoon gambling.

Pontoon Rules

Although it’s not blackjack, pontoon does share a couple of things with the game of twenty-one. Namely, both are very easy to learn, and pontoon is even easier to master than blackjack.

The game is played with a single deck of 52 cards without jokers. In most cases, the game is played with 2-4 players. However, the game can be played between a maximum of 8 players.

All players have the same goal of reaching a hand of two cards that has a total value higher than the one dealt to the banker. As you can see, that is the same as in blackjack, as the value should not exceed 21.

This is a banking game where the banker is one of the players who deals the cards and whose hands are the core of the round.

Bets & Payouts

The greatest thing about pontoon is that it’s beyond easy to understand. Moreover, if you are familiar with blackjack, you’ll need approximately two minutes to learn the ropes of this game.

When it comes to bets and payouts, everything is more or less the same. You have the pontoon, which is the same as blackjack in blackjack, the result of 21 which beats the banker. In most cases, this pays 3 to 2. You also have Insurance which pays 2 to 1. Doubled down wagers pay even money, 1 to 1.

Here’s a list of potential bets and payouts seen in most pontoon variations.

  • Pontoon – 3:2
  • Five Card 21 – 3:2
  • 6, 7, 8 Mixed suits – 3:2
  • 7,7,7 mixed suits – 3:2
  • Six card 21 – 2:1
  • 6, 7, 8 same suit (not spades) – 2:1
  • 7, 7, 7 same suit (not spades) – 2:1
  • Seven or more card 21 – 3:1
  • 6, 7, 8 same suit (spades) – 3:1
  • 7, 7,7 same suit (spades) – 3:1
  • All other wagers – 1:1
  • Perfect Pairs – 5-25:1

Perfect Pairs  is thrown in for good measure as a side bet you might encounter whilst playing pontoon live. Also, please bear in mind that these payouts might differ if the provider decides to change them by increasing them via multipliers or something similar.

How to Play Pontoon

Here comes the fun part.

At the start of every round, players are given a handful of seconds to place the wager. In case the game is played outside the casino (at home) players draw straws among themselves to see who is going to be the banker. In casino modes, the banker is the dealer.

  1. So, at the very start, you first pick the bet size and place it on the table.
  2. The banker then deals the cards – two to each player, and two to himself, but one is face-down.
  3. Players then have a chance to Hit, Stand, or Double (if they have a pair).
  4. In case of a Hit decision, the player receives another card from the banker.
  5. If the choice is to Stand, the player does not receive anything, and the banker reveals its second, hidden card, to see its full outcome.
  6. If the outcome of the player is higher, the player wins (but only if it doesn’t exceed 21). If the outcome is lower, the banker wins.
  7. In case of a bust of the dealer, the player automatically wins. Moreover, the dealer draws until a hard 17.

Before you head off to play the game, it is important to note that the values of the cards are as follows:

  • Aces – either 1 or 11
  • Card royals J, Q, K – 10
  • 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 – face value

Also, the game has a very favorable house edge of 1.25%, which is excellent for table games. It’s considerably lower than in roulette.

What You Should Know Before Playing Real-Money Pontoon

There’s not much we are left to say except this: please stay safe when gambling online and never bet more than you can bear to lose. No matter the format or platform – be it live, RNG, mobile, or whatever – gambling is highly addictive. More importantly, the easier the game, the more you think you are invincible, so it’s very easy to slip and lose funds you are not ready to lose.

Other than that, we have only one piece of advice left, and that is to pick good casinos and play games made only by reliable game providers. And that’s that!

Blackjack & Pontoon: A Short Guide

As we already explained above, blackjack and pontoon are two different games that share a couple of similarities. Okay, they are quite similar, which is why players often compare blackjack and pontoon and confuse them for each other. However, as we have shown, pontoon is a bit easier to master than blackjack, but the downside is that it’s not very popular at casinos. In fact, there are pontoon games online, but blackjack is far more popular online. What is more, blackjack is perhaps one of the most popular and widespread gambling games in the world, while pontoon enjoys a niche audience that flocks to the game for its simplicity and ease-of-use.

If you want to check out more pontoon or blackjack games, we invite you to stop by our game reviews. Also, if you are into real-money gambling in real time, we suggest checking out live casinos and live dealer games. In the meantime, stay tuned for more updates and news from iGaming.



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