Pontoon is one of the most popular versions of blackjack found in casinos around the world today. The game is very similar to classic blackjack, except for several differences relating to the scoring of points in the game. Before looking at the best hands to make in pontoon, let us first examine card values.
Essentially, card values are identical to classic blackjack. That is, all cards carry their own face values, irrespective of their suits (eg. a five is worth five points, etc.). An ace is worth either one or eleven, depending on how the player chooses to go about the game, and all ‘royal’ cards are worth 10. Cards are added up, with the prime goal of reaching 21, without going over this amount (and thus going ‘bust’).
We will now examine the best hand combinations in pontoon. The first is conveniently known as a ‘pontoon’ and is practically the same as what is known as a ‘blackjack’ in the traditional version of the game. A pontoon is made up of an ace plus a ten-point card (ie. any of the royals or a 10) and is considered the best hand in the game. A pontoon traditionally pays out a double stake. For example a $20 bet will pay out $60 in all – double your initial bet of $20 plus your initial bet ($40 + $20).
Another type of winning hand unique to pontoon that also pays out double stakes is the Five Card Trick. If a player manages to get five cards without going over the 21 total, this is considered a winning hand and is only beaten by a pontoon. If another player manages to reach 21 with three or four cards, the Five Card Trick beats that player, even if the total of the Trick is less than 21.
Scoring in pontoon then continues in downward order. So, for example, the next best hand in a game, after a pontoon and Five Card Trick, is considered a hand that totals 21 made up of three or four cards. After this, a hand totaling 20 with this number of cards wins, then 19 and so on and so forth.