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Is Blackjack The Same As Pontoon?

Is Blackjack The Same As Pontoon?

Blackjack and Pontoon are two popular card games that have often been confused with one another. While these games share some similarities, they are distinct in various aspects such as their origins, gameplay, and rules. In this article, we will explore the main differences and similarities between Blackjack and Pontoon, providing valuable insights for players who are interested in learning about these classic casino games.

Origins and History of Blackjack and Pontoon

Blackjack and Pontoon are both part of a wider family of card games known as 21. This family of games can be traced back to the 17th century in Spain, where a game called Vingt-Un (meaning 21 in French) first emerged. Vingt-Un gained popularity in 18th-century France and later spread to other countries such as the United Kingdom and the United States.

Blackjack: The American Classic

Blackjack is considered to be a game born in the United States. Although it shares similarities with other 21 games, it is not directly related to Pontoon. Blackjack has become one of the most popular casino games worldwide and is played in various forms both in brick-and-mortar and online casinos.

Pontoon: The British Invention

Pontoon, on the other hand, is a British invention. It is related to the 21 family of games but is not a direct descendant of Vingt-Un. Pontoon has evolved over time and is a popular game in the United Kingdom and other countries, although it is not as widely played as Blackjack.

Main Differences Between Pontoon and Blackjack

While both Blackjack and Pontoon share the same goal of achieving a hand value as close to 21 as possible without going over, there are several key differences between the two games.

Card Dealing and Dealer's Cards

In Blackjack, the dealer receives one card face up and one card face down. This allows players to make decisions based on the dealer's up-facing card. In Pontoon, however, both of the dealer's cards are dealt face down. This means that players must make their decisions without any information about the dealer's hand.

Natural Hand Payouts

A natural hand, consisting of an Ace and a 10-value card, is known as a "Blackjack" in Blackjack and a "Pontoon" in Pontoon. In Blackjack, a natural hand typically pays 3:2. In Pontoon, however, a natural hand pays 2:1, which is a bigger payout.

Five-Card Trick

A unique feature in Pontoon that is not present in Blackjack is the five-card trick. This is a hand consisting of five cards with a total value of 21 or less. A five-card trick is a winning hand in Pontoon and pays out at 2:1, just like a natural hand. In Blackjack, there is no such hand, and the closest equivalent is a five-card hand that does not bust, which does not have any special payout.

Standing, Doubling, and Twisting

In Pontoon, players cannot stand (stick) unless they have a hand value of 15 or higher, whereas in Blackjack, players can stand on any hand value. Another difference is that in Pontoon, the dealer must always hit on a soft 17, while this rule varies in Blackjack.

When it comes to doubling, Pontoon offers more flexibility than Blackjack. In Pontoon, players can double (buy) on any total and can even hit after doubling. This is not the case in Blackjack, where players can only double on specific totals and cannot hit after doubling.

In Pontoon, instead of hitting, players can "twist" to receive additional cards. Players can twist even after doubling down, which is not possible in Blackjack.

Ties and House Edge

One significant rule difference that favors the dealer in Pontoon is that in the event of a tie, the dealer wins. In Blackjack, a tie results in a push, and the player gets their stake back. This advantage for the dealer in Pontoon is offset by various player-friendly rules, such as the ability to double on any total and hit after doubling.

The house edge in Pontoon is generally lower than in Blackjack, making it an attractive option for players. The house edge for Pontoon is typically around 0.38%, while the house edge for Blackjack varies depending on the specific rules and can range from 0.5% (with basic strategy) to 2% for most players.

Summary of Differences

To recap, here are the key differences between Pontoon and Blackjack:

  • In Pontoon, both dealer's cards are face down, while in Blackjack, one dealer card is face up.
  • A natural hand pays 2:1 in Pontoon, while it pays 3:2 in Blackjack.
  • Pontoon features the five-card trick, which pays 2:1 and does not exist in Blackjack.
  • The dealer wins in the event of a tie in Pontoon, while ties result in a push in Blackjack.
  • The dealer must always hit on a soft 17 in Pontoon, while this rule varies in Blackjack.
  • Players can only stand on a hand value of 15 or higher in Pontoon.
  • The dealer checks for a natural hand (Pontoon) before hands are played.
  • Players can double on any two, three, or four cards and can hit after doubling in Pontoon.
  • The house edge is generally lower in Pontoon than in Blackjack.

Which Game Should You Play?

The choice between Blackjack and Pontoon ultimately comes down to personal preference. Both games offer unique features and varying levels of complexity. Some players may enjoy the added flexibility and higher payouts of Pontoon, while others may prefer the familiarity and simplicity of Blackjack.

Regardless of which game you choose, it is essential to familiarize yourself with the specific rules and strategies for that game. This will help you make informed decisions and improve your chances of winning. Additionally, always remember to play responsibly and manage your bankroll wisely to ensure a fun and enjoyable gaming experience.


While Blackjack and Pontoon share some similarities, they are distinct card games with different origins, rules, and gameplay. Understanding the differences between these two games can help players decide which game suits their preferences and playstyle. Whether you prefer the classic American favorite, Blackjack, or its British counterpart, Pontoon, both games offer exciting and engaging gameplay for casino enthusiasts.

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