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The History Of Blackjack

Entertainment, Gambling

A natural blackjack hand - Spin Casino BlogSource: Free-Photos, Pixabay

It’s hard to imagine a modern casino without a Blackjack table. It’s a fast and relatively simple game that’s easy to learn, but hard to master. Whether it’s played on the tables of Las Vegas, or the virtual tables of an online casino, Blackjack is a wildly popular and adaptive game that continues to evolve to this day. But the history of Blackjack is shrouded in mystery. Let’s take a look at how one of the most popular card games in the world came into being.

How it’s played

The aim of Blackjack is for players to achieve 21 with fewer cards than the dealer. Each player bets however much they want to put on the line. They are then served cards by the dealer and take it in turns to “hit” for more cards or “stay” and keep the cards they have. Getting above 21 counts as a “bust” and is an instant loss. Whoever beats the dealer is paid out in line with how much they bet.

Where it began

The history of Blackjack is a much debated topic with several theories that exist. The most common theory is that Blackjack originated in French casinos around the year 1700. At the time the game was known as Vingt-en-Un which translates to twenty-one. It’s also believed that Blackjack evolved from the popular French card games Chemin de Fer and French Ferme.

Another theory of the origin of early Blackjack is that it came from Spain. This Spanish version was called One and Thirty. The basic aim of the game was to reach 31 with a minimum of three cards.

Yet another theory posits that Blackjack may have been invented by the Romans. The Romans were famously known to love gambling. Though this does not prove the theory to be true or false, but it is interesting. The Roman version of Blackjack was believed to be played with wooden blocks with numbered values instead of cards.

A blackjack table - Spin Casino BlogSource: AidanHowe, Pixabay

The game evolves

Vingt-en-Un eventually spread to North America by French colonists. It quickly spread across the continent and began to evolve into the Blackjack that we know today.  The rules were still a bit different however in these early days. One big difference is that only the dealer was allowed to double down. Players were also allowed to place bets in between receiving each of their playing cards from the dealer.

In 1931, the first US state to legalise gambling was Nevada. This new legislation would lay the groundwork for the modern gambling hub that is Las Vegas. In order to draw more players to the game, casinos offered special bets. This special bet stated that any player who was dealt either the black Jack of Spades or Jack of Clubs as well as the Ace of Spades would receive 10-to-1 on their bet. This special rule set didn’t last long but the name stuck. Blackjack had been born.

Keeping count

As Blackjack began to gain popularity, players began trying to figure out how best to play it. Players knew that keeping count of the cards that came out of the deck would help to improve their odds. The first person to codify this was Edward O. Thorp whose 1962 book Beat the Dealer quickly became a national bestseller. Thorp’s book set out a mathematical system whereby players could memorise the cards coming out of the deck and vastly improve their odds of winning. The popularity of the book led to a surge in the popularity of Blackjack. Casinos were delighted with the new players but were forced to take measures to counteract Thorp’s system. Multiple decks were introduced to exponentially increase the difficulty of card counting. Harsh measures of expulsions and bans from casinos were also taken against those caught counting cards. In 2020, the Blackjack Hall of Fame was established at the Baron Casino in San Diego California, as a way of honouring the greatest Blackjack experts in the history of the game.

The modern game

The rules of modern Blackjack are fairly set in stone today. Though there is some change in the form of online gambling. Playing Blackjack in an online casino allows players to take part from virtually anywhere in the world. If you want to know, how to play Blackjack, check out our Ultimate Blackjack Guide with tips and tricks to win.

Blackjack has truly stood the test of time and cemented itself as one of the long-lasting casino staples.

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