Among the different blackjack variations that you can find online, Pontoon by RealTime Gaming (RTG) is probably one of the more special ones. While the main objective is to get as close to 21 without going bust, there are several changes to the rest of the game rules. Even the name of the hand that includes an Ace and a 10-value card is not ‘blackjack’ but ‘pontoon’. The game is available online both with 8 decks and 2 decks. Either way, each deck is comprised of the standard 52 playing cards. The RTP for RTG’s Pontoon is estimated to be 99.62%. While it is still considered a variation of blackjack, Pontoon definitely has different rules which make the game more exciting.
If players have a pontoon, they will be paid 2 to 1. In addition to this hand, they will also be paid 2 to 1 if they have a hand, comprised of 5 cards, without going bust. Another specific rule is that whenever there is a tie, instead of resulting in a push, the game will be won by the dealer. This also applies to the cases when both the dealer and the player have hands, comprised of 5 cards.
Standing Rule in Pontoon
Like in any blackjack variation, in Pontoon there is also a rule about when the dealer must hit and when he should stand. In the variant powered by RTG, the dealer must draw cards until he has a total of 17. While hard 17 would mean that the dealer will stand, having soft 17 requires the dealer to hit.
This rule actually works in favor of the house as hitting soft 17 increases the house edge slightly and players have fewer chances to beat the dealer. In addition to the hitting and standing rules that apply to the dealer, in Pontoon, there is also a total on which players are required to always hit. If you play Pontoon, you will always have to hit on a total of 14 or less. You can stand on any 15 or higher.
Doubling in Pontoon
Whenever they play Pontoon, players will be able to double their original bet whenever they feel confident in their gameplay. If you choose to double down, you will be able to make use of this option on every total which is a perk you cannot enjoy in every blackjack variation. After you have raised your stake, you will automatically receive another card. Depending on your total, you will be able to make the choice whether to stand or hit.
Many blackjack options will not allow more than a single draw after a double down, but Pontoon has changed this rule. Thanks to it, players have the freedom to pick the option they find most beneficial to their hand.
Splitting in Pontoon
When players draw two cards of the same value, they will be able to split them and form another hand to bet on. You are free to split any pair and draw cards to the newly formed hands. Whenever you split your cards, you are doubling your original bet since you are also betting on the newly formed hand. After a split, you can choose to double down your wager or you can draw as many cards as you wish and this applies to split Aces as well.
Even after you have split Aces, a hand of an Ace and a 10-value card will count as a pontoon. Players have the chance to re-split once which means that they can bet on up to three hands. Each hand is played separately, starting from the last one that was formed.
In addition to receiving a payout of 2 to 1 for Pontoon, players also have another chance to enjoy a win and sweep another payout of 2 to 1. Players can win Pontoon with the so-called five-card trick. This is a hand, comprised of 5 cards which total to 21 or less. It is difficult not to go bust with 5 cards in your hand but if you manage to do it, you will enjoy a payout of 2 to 1. The only exception is if the dealer also has a five-card trick which would mean that you lose.