If you normally play online blackjack then pontoon could be a great new game to try if you want something similar to your favorite game but just a little different, if only to spice things up. All of the best US blackjack sites and online casinos will offer standard online and possibly mobile blackjack but they will also, more than likely, offer other blackjack variants, including pontoon. Here we take a closer look at pontoon, explaining how to play and in what ways it is similar to, and also different from, standard blackjack.
Before we look into the game, let us start by clarifying what we mean by pontoon, as in many countries the word usually refers to a game that is actually more like what we in the States call Spanish 21. All of these games are very similar and are linked through a common ancestor but when we refer to pontoon we mean the US version, as featured at real money USA casinos powered by RTG (Realtime Gaming) software.
As with blackjack, the aim of the game in pontoon is to beat the dealer by getting as close to 21 as possible without going over that total. So far, so similar. “Pontoon”, as with a natural blackjack, is the best possible hand and is formed by an ace with any card worth 10 to make 21. Pontoon pays out at odds of 2/1, as opposed to 3/2 to blackjack and the next best hand, a five card trick, also pays out at generous odds of 2/1.
A five card trick is any hand featuring five cards and staying under 22, with 21 the next best hand, followed by 20, 19 and so on, and anything over 21 being bust and thus automatically losing. There are various other minor rule differences between the two games but these result in perhaps the best thing about pontoon – it’s got a very low house edge.
The casino’s advantage over the player, dependent on the precise rules, is just 0.38%, making pontoon a great choice for those wanting to play for a long time. Note that tied hands are losers for the player in pontoon and they must twist, meaning take another card, on hands of 14 or below. The other big difference between blackjack and pontoon, played online or in a casino, is that the dealer’s two cards are both face down until the players have had their turns.
Pontoon really is great fun and with that big 2/1 payout, the possibility of a five card trick and a low house edge, why not give it a shot?