Nostalgic Tournament Idea

Discussion in 'Other Games Events' started by London Colin, Jul 29, 2011.

  1. London Colin

    London Colin Top Member

    When I was growing up, a popular card game was Pontoon. This isn't either of the casino variants of 21 that go by that name, but a social game in which players act as dealer/banker.

    I haven't played it or seen it played in many years.
    (Andy, do you know if the game has died out throughout the UK?)

    I found a useful site describing the rules of lots of card games. The description of Pontoon matches my memory of how we played it -

    It strikes me that it could be a good basis for a tournament, similar to the bounty blackjack formats that have been tried out in the past.

    Also, I wish I had known then what I know now, with regard to this aspect of the game -
    With a single deck, I'm wondering how often cards might actually circulate back to the top of the deck before a Pontoon triggers a reshuffle.
  2. ANDY 956

    ANDY 956 Member


    If you mention Blackjack to a British or Irish person of a certain age the usual reply that follows tends to be “Is it played like Pontoon?”

    I was also brought up on Pontoon which was popular with families who played card games. You can still play Pontoon online via sites such as William Hill.

    If you want to play live Pontoon games in a casino then catch a ferry. For example to Hull and Rotterdam which is where I played it a few years ago. For some reason ferry companies prefer Pontoon over Blackjack.

    There was one Pontoon and Roulette table set up on the ferry that I sailed on. I picked up a rule leaflet and was the first one on the card table. I initially won a fair amount of money but later lost the lot due to having too much to drink (I was on holiday though) and leaving my brain at home.

    The main differences of playing Pontoon is the five card trick and having three or four cards 21’s that beat natural totals of less than 21. However, just like Blackjack I believe there are various ways that Pontoon can be played.

    My memory of playing Pontoon on the ferry was that the dealers appeared to be more experienced in Blackjack. The games seemed to alternate between the two especially when it suited the house. But then that could me being just a bad loser…lol

  3. London Colin

    London Colin Top Member

    Do you have the same impression as me, that it has fallen out of fashion?

    I belive there are a couple of casino games going by the name of pontoon. One is a variant of Spanish 21, played in Australia, and not related to the British game. The other seems to be loosely based on the British game, but turned into a house-dealt game, like blackjack, and with multiple decks. I thought it was only online, but presumably it was some form of this that you were playing on the ferry?

    If a casino wanted to offer the original game, they would have to take a rake, or run tournaments with entry fees in order to make their money, as the players take the role of dealer (which could be a notional role, as in poker games where the house supplies someone to physically deal the cards etc.).

    So the big differences from blackjack that I was thinking could make it an attractive tournament game are -

    • It's a zero-sum game, like poker, in which you have to win chips from your opponents.
    • When taking the role of dealer, the players are not constrained to follow a preordained hit/stand procedure. They decide what to do based on whatever information they have about their opponents' totals (derived from those cards which are face-up, and from how the opponents chose to play their hands).
    • When not the dealer, there is scope for sneaky strategy. E.g., buying cards in order to get them face-down and deny the dealer information.
    • Card counting could play a significant role (and maybe even sequencing, if the cards that have been played actually circulate back into play before a shuffle is called for).
  4. Billy C

    Billy C Top Member

    Different meanings

    In my area a pontoon is a boat (actually the flotation devices for the boat) that is typically used as a party craft or for just leisurely cruising on the waters. Perfectly flat decks with ample seating for many people.

    Billy C
  5. London Colin

    London Colin Top Member

    Multiple meanings

    The main, non-card-game meaning I associate with pontoon is a support for a floating bridge. (And bridge is of course the name of yet another card game!)

    But the dictionary tells me it is also a flat-bottomed boat.

    Words have to work hard, holding down many jobs! :)

    But the supposed derivation of pontoon as the name of a card game seems to be simply that it sounds a bit like vingt-et-un.
  6. Billy C

    Billy C Top Member

    Yes, the meaning of many words changes with where they are used. Isn't "punting" a gaming term in your parts?

    Billy C
  7. London Colin

    London Colin Top Member

    Yes, kind of. I may move in the wrong circles to give a fully accurate account, but I think the noun 'punter' is in more common usage than the verb 'to punt'.

    And punter tends to be used as slang for any kind of customer, but with particular reference to gamblers and, erm, clients of prostitutes.

    Again, the dictionary is full of surprises. The verb to punt -
    And it says it derives from the French ponter, and the Spanish punto. (And of course we have the name Punto Banco for the game of casino-banked baccarat.)

    So there you go. :)
  8. Billy C

    Billy C Top Member

    Ruined my day

    In the States, punting only means one thing (kicking a football)------now I learn that my cousin may be a whore monger and NOT a football player. How depressing!!!!!:laugh::laugh::laugh::laugh::laugh:

    Billy C
  9. London Colin

    London Colin Top Member

    Divided by a common language

    I also neglected to say that we used to play Black Jack when I was a kid, which is in no way related to blackjack, but is a variant of Crazy Eights.

    But getting back to my original question, does no one have any thoughts on the possible merits of Pontoon as a tournament format?

    Obviously familiarity is a big factor, and I'm not even sure how familiar it is to most people in the U.K. these days.

    Other issues that I was thinking about are -

    The card-counting aspects of the game, while potentially adding to the skill factor, might make certain players reluctant to put those skills on public display, and might similarly make casino operators reluctant to play host to them.

    And online, the same issue might mean that the possibility that opponents may be making use of 'artificial' aids (i.e. computers) would be a disincentive for anyone to play without such aids.

    So shuffling every hand, or at least before the cards re-circulate, might be necessary, but I'm not sure how much of a role for skill that would leave in the game.

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