Pontoon is a new blackjack variant that involves the dealer’s pocket cards being dealt face down. Of course, this is a considerable disadvantage to the player. However, the player is given a few benefits to balance the game. Realtime Gaming is one software development company that offers this game at its casinos.
The benefits the player is given for not being able to view the dealer’s cards include:
- A five-card hand that has not busted pays 2 to 1
- A five-card hand that has not busted is the second-highest hand (next to pontoon)
- Pontoon (blackjack) pays 2 to 1
- The player has the option to double down at any time in the game
- The player can hit any number of times after a double
Several rules have changed to further balance the game (in the casino’s favor) including:
- Dealer wins all ties
- The player can only split twice
- Dealer hits on soft 17
- Player hits on a total of 14 or less
After all, adjustments have been made the house edge of the game is only 0.38 percent assuming optimum play. This is close to the house edge of playing blackjack so players should engage in this competition if given the chance.
Pontoon’s strategy has been confirmed through many hands of computer simulation. However, since one face card is unavailable, the simulation indexes the hand value versus the number of cards dealt with him. Therefore, the adjustment of this is 2, 3, or 4 cards are the most relevant since a player cannot have less than two cards and cannot improve their hand anymore after 5 cards.
For a total of 18 or more, the player must stand regardless of the number of cards dealt. If the player’s hand equals 15, 16, or 17 with only three total cards dealt, it is proper to stay. Additionally, the player should stand if their first two cards contain an ace and an 8, 9, or 10. Furthermore, it is proper for a player to double (with four cards dealt) on soft totals of 14 to 21 and hard totals of 8 to 16.
If dealt three cards, the player should double on hard 9 to 11 and soft 19 to 21. Additionally, the player should double on hard 10 and 11 with only two cards dealt. Finally, it is correct for the player to split on a pair of eights and aces only. There are strategy cards available at most casinos for Pontoon.