Now here is where it gets confusing. If you're from the UK, you probably learned how to play 'Pontoon' when you were very young, and when you were old enough to play at online casinos you learned it was called 'Blackjack' – albeit with a few minor alterations. If you're an Aussie, then to you 'Pontoon' is yet another blackjack variation. In casino terms, Aussie pontoon is known as 'Spanish 21'. The game here is the UK version of pontoon. Right, got that sorted? Then read on …
If you are a regular blackjack player then the first difference you will notice here is that the dealer gets dealt two cards face down, instead of one card face up and one card face down. The UK version of Pontoon is traditionally a two-player game in which both players are dealt two cards face down, and the non-dealer plays his hand first. The dealer has the advantage in the game, so the deal is usually alternated, or switched every time the dealer lands 'pontoon' – which is this game's name for blackjack. Also 'hit' is called 'twist', and 'stand' is called 'stick'.
The other things you need to know is this game are as follows:
- Six decks are used
- Dealer must draw to sixteen and twist on soft seventeen
- Player must twist on all hands worth less than fifteen
- Pontoon beats all hands, including those with a total of twenty-one
- There are no pushes. The dealer wins all ties
- You can split all pairs, and re-split up to a maximum of three hands
- You may 'buy' cards instead of twisting. This is the same as doubling down, but you can twist after buying. You can only buy once per hand
- Pontoon and 5 Card Tricks pay 2-1
The controls for this game are very easy to use, and you can play up to three hands at the same time. To bet, select your chip size then click on as many of the betting spaces as you wish to bet. When you're ready to play, just hit the 'Deal' button.
You may think that not being able to see either of the dealer's cards in this game is a huge disadvantage, but you'd be wrong. With correct play, the house edge is only 0.38 percent. Additionally, 'perfect strategy' is a breeze:
- If you have fifteen or more, or AT, A9 or A8, stick
- If you have ten or eleven, or a three-card nine, or a soft 19, 20 or 21, buy
- If you have anything else, twist
- Only split aces and eights
- If you manage to get a four-card hand, stick on 18s or over, hit on 17 and buy on anything else
This game could be seen as a primer to learn how to play perfect strategy in the slightly more complicated blackjack. Blackjack becomes more complex as you need to react to the dealer's card. Here, you of course have no idea what the dealer is holding.
A thumbs-up from us then for what is a nicely-rendered game. You really would not expect anything else of NetEnt though, would you?
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