Played mostly in UK and Australia, Pontoon took online casinos by storm in the 90s. In terms of rules, Pontoon is very similar to Spanish 21 – although considered to be a blackjack variant, it has some important structural deviations which are also employed in the RTG's release of this increasingly popular game.
Placing the bet and selecting the “deal” tab will initiate the game. The dealer's hand is dealt with both cards facing down; there are no upcards in Pontoon. The end goal of the game remains the same – the player aims at having a hand higher than the dealer's, without going over 21. A combination of an Ace and a face card is called a Pontoon and is equivalent to a Blackjack hand. The second best combination is a Five Card Trick, consisting of 5 cards summing up to 21 or less.
Unlike most blackjack variations, Pontoon requires the player to hit on 14 – there will be no option to stand on hands under 15 and hitting is limited to five times for both the player and the dealer. The player can also double down and split the same cards, playing with no more than three simultaneous card hands. Dealer is required to hit on hard 16 and stand on hard 17 or higher. Push rule does not apply in Pontoon – with equal value combinations, dealer wins.
Realtime Gaming's Pontoon comes with 99.52% return to player. The lower bet limit is $1 and the maximum bet is $100. Payout table in Pontoon follows a slightly different pattern to the one in most blackjack versions (1:1, 3:2 and 2:1). Pontoon and Five Trick hands are paid according to 2:1 ratio and any other regular winning hands pay even - 1:1.
Since the player is not able to see any of the dealer's cards, the entire strategy will be based on the player's total and the number of cards within a hand. Soft hands are a good place to double down, as well as the hard hands below 17. Hard 16 in a four card combination can stand a doubling move, while two eights and aces are better off separated.
If you are a long-time blackjack player, trying out RTG Pontoon will definitely be much more than just a nice change in pace. Following a different set of rules, Pontoon challenges the players, forcing them to change the strategy and approach, but still keeps the essence of blackjack. A great way to try something new and stay true to your favourite game at the same time.