Not to be confused with the flotation device or flat-bottomed boat of the same name – pontoon for our purposes is an exciting blackjack game, strongly based on Spanish 21 play. Most popular in casinos in Australia and Malaysia, with a somewhat different version prevailing in the UK, there are also plenty of Canadians who have a penchant for the game. If you’re one such Canuck, then lucky for you, as online pontoon games are easily available at these top-rated pontoon casinos.
First, it’s important to get one thing straight, there are in fact two different versions of Pontoon out there. One is played predominantly in Malaysian and Australian casinos, and the other is a mainstay at UK casinos. For our purposes, we’re going to go with the version more prevalent online, as we’re assuming that’s where you’ll want to play. And these are some of the basics you should know to get started:
The house edge varies depending on which type of pontoon you’re playing, the number of decks being used, and where exactly you’re playing, as rules may fluctuate between different casino establishments.
In most online play, the fact that a tie always goes to the dealer creates a strong house advantage. To counter this, pontoon hands with an Ace + 10 value pay at a rate of 2:1, which is higher than the standard 3:2 blackjack odds. You can also enjoy the 2:1 payout odds when splitting Aces (as above), which gives you another slight edge to collect on. And while the lack of a hole card gives the house an advantage, the fact that the dealer immediately declares a pontoon (if he has a natural 21), evens things out to your advantage. As for the bottom-line stats, overall, the online pontoon will have a 0.17% up to 0.62% house edge. Pretty good for you.
Pontoon is considered by many to be an offshoot of Spanish 21 and similar to Spanish blackjack (close, but not exactly the same thing). This, however, is more true of the Australian/Malaysian casino versions than the UK version of the pontoon card game.
Even online pontoon games may differ slightly in terms of rules, so it’s well-advised to read up on the game’s rules before you get started. Unfortunately, not all online casinos will have pontoon available (though the recommended ones above do). To find one, check under the ‘Card games’ tab. Most Playtech casinos, for example will have a standard online pontoon game there. But if you can’t find pontoon per se, it’s always reasonable to try a game like Online Spanish 21 Blackjack, found at Microgaming casinos, instead.
Similar, but oh so unique, the pontoon is a great way to get your blackjack thrills, with something quite different on-hand. Build yourself a five-card Charlie, twist, stick or buy. But whatever you do, make sure to do it at one of our preferred pontoon casinos, open to Canadian players.