Blackjack is one of the most popular casino games around the world. All casinos feature not only the original version, but also many variations. Pontoon is not exactly a variation of Blackjack, but rather a distant relative. They both belong in the same game family of 21.
Differences in the vocabulary
One of the first differences between the two games is the vocabulary, or the terminology used. In Blackjack, you say “hit me” to the dealer when you want another card, but in Pontoon, you say “twist”. In the same way “stand” becomes “stick” and “double down” becomes “buy” accordingly.
Hits and twists
A basic strategy in Blackjack is to hit at eight, even though you can always choose to stand. On the other hand, Pontoon obliges you to twist if you have a total of fourteen or less in your hands. Therefore, it is stricter in this sense.
Doubling down and buying
In Blackjack, you can double down only with your two original hands. However, in Pontoon, you can buy with more than two cards in your hands. Furthermore, in Pontoon, you can buy before you twist many times in a row. So, in this case, Pontoon is a bit looser.
Ties and the five-card trick
In Blackjack, when there is a tie, all bets return to the players. But in Pontoon, in case of a tie, the bets return to the dealer, even if his cards do not achieve pontoon. It is a frustrating rule that minimizes the possibility to win to two to one.
Nevertheless, Pontoon recognizes the five-card trick that Blackjack does not. That is if the dealer has a full 21, and you have five cards but don't exceed the sum of 21, you win the round. This is not something easy to achieve, but still gives you good chances of winning.
Cards facing up and down
One of Blackjack's pros is that you can see one of the dealer's cards since it faces up on the table. In Pontoon, this is not an option. All cards face down, making it very difficult to have a strategy and predict whether you want to twist or stick.
Split the aces
However, there is a move in Pontoon that favours the player. That is splitting aces. You can get a Pontoon if you split your aces, meaning that your chances to take advantage of the 2 to 1 payout are greater. In Blackjack, splitting aces excludes hands from achieving blackjack.
Chances of winning in Blackjack and in Pontoon
While Blackjack is more popular and Pontoon has very specific rules that sometimes favour only the dealer and sometimes the players, Pontoon gives better chances of winning. In Blackjack, your chances of beating the dealer are two to three, whereas, in Pontoon, your chances are two to one.
Similarities between Blackjack and Pontoon
Even though Blackjack and Pontoon have different rules and gameplay and they spice things up, they belong in the wide range of 21-games. That is, they have similarities too and they are not as few as you would think. They have two very basic similarities worth mentioning.
The sum must be 21
In both card games, whether you are playing them in a regular casino or online, your goal is to have a sum of 21 in your hands. Besides the other players, you also compete with the dealer, and he has to have a sum of 21 as well.
The same amount of players and dealers
Blackjack and Pontoon tables can host five to seven players, that try to beat one dealer. It is always more fun if the table is full. Besides, it gives more odds to the players. But even without that many players, the games are still interesting.
Enjoy both games at casinos
Blackjack is more popular but if you think about Pontoon gives you more chances of winning. In any case, you can always play both. The different rules will enliven the game and you will experience the same excitement and thrill in both of them.