The origin of Blackjack was not conceived by one person, or at one specific point in time, but has evolved throughout the centuries.

History of Blackjack

Over the years, the history of Blackjack has been the subject of debate, regarding its origination. The most widely accepted theory is that it originated in French casinos in the 1700s, from a game called Vingt-et-un, which is French for twenty-one.

Many also believe that Vingt-et-un is a modified version of the two French card games Chemin de Fer and French Ferme combined into one game. Others believe it is a modified version of the Spanish card game One and Thirty, where the goal was to collect 3 cards without going over 31 points.

Early history of Blackjack

One and Thirty was an early variation of a game called Bone Ace, where Aces have the unique double value of one or eleven, court cards have a value of ten, and other cards counting their face values. So, the question is this: Is the Spanish card game of One and Thirty actually the same game as Bone Ace? The most widely accepted answer is Yes.

Historians have found documented references of the Spanish card game One and Thirty, dating as far back as 1440, which are the oldest references to a game that eventually became known as Twenty-One, or 21.

This means that the French card game of Vingt-et-un in the 1700s was just a variation of the Spanish card game One and Thirty from centuries earlier during the 1400s, making it the origin of today's Blackjack game.

Blackjack in North America

Vingt-et-un grew in popularity, and thanks to French colonists, it eventually spread to North America, where the game was soon played by many throughout the entire continent. The rules were different from those in contemporary Blackjack, for example, only the dealer was allowed double, and there was a betting round between each of the cards being dealt, similar to that of Poker.

The common factor between all of the above games mentioned, is that they all involved cards with values, and the goal was to get as close to a specific number withour going over. Some included the Ace card having the fluctuating value of one or eleven. The winner is decided entirely on the basis of the total of the numerical values of the cards dealt being added together.

Because the game of 21 is one of the few card games requiring skill, as opposed to just good luck, is probably why it became so popular in Europe. Players get to make decisions on whether or not to hit or stand, which gives the player a sense of control.

How 21 became Blackjack

In 1931, when the State of Nevada legalized gambling, the card game, which was still called 21, became very popular because many Nevada casinos offered a special bet to attract more players to the game, in which the bet would pay 10-to-1 odds on a hand with either the Jack of Spades or the Jack of Clubs, and the Ace of Spades.

Despite the fact that the casinos discontinued this payout, the referenced name of Blackjack stuck, and this is how the game of 21 is known today.

The 21 connection to Blackjack popularity

Is there a connection between the number 21 and Blackjack? What makes the number 21 so appealing?

In this 21st century, most jurisdictions require you to be 21 years old to legally drink alcohol and gamble. There are many other games, ranging from volleyball to ping-pong, where 21 points is the winning target.

What about the 21-gun salute to tribute a soldier when he dies? This magic is non-existent for card games named Vingt-et-un or One and Thirty.

Baldwin and Thorpe on counting cards

The first attempt to use mathematics to form a strategy to reduce the house edge, therefore increasing the player's overall chances of winning, took place in the 1950s by a man named Roger Baldwin.

Despite Baldwin's efforts, he was incapable of proving his theory without the technologies available today.

Nearly a decade later, Dr. Edward Thorp created a mathematics formula to expand Baldwins theory. Thorp used the formula to analyze the odds of the game, and developed a card counting system.

The first acknowledgement of card counting occurred when Thorp published his discovery, teaching players a variety of tricks that evened the odds of the playing field between players and Blackjack dealers, consequently getting attention of casinos everywhere.

Dealing with Blackjack

Casinos have found ways to get around the practice of counting cards and still maintain the game's original structure. Still used today, these principles are accomplished by using multiple decks and frequent card shuffling. Players are legally allowed to use this strategy to increase their odds while the house is capable of retaining some control over their odds.

The cool thing about Blackjack in comparison to other casino games, is the incorporation of both skill and luck.

Yes, your chances are better of becoming a winner playing Blackjack, as opposed to any other game of chance, such as Roulette or Craps, but you should keep in mind that all gambling games are for entertainment purposes only, and the house always wins.

Online and Live Dealer Blackjack

The advent of the internet and online gaming has revolutionized the card game of Blackjack, making it available to players everywhere. The online gaming industry fuels its popularity by developing several versions in which it can be played.

Online operators now offer another enjoyable concept of the online version of this game, which is through live streaming that offers live Blackjack games with real dealers. The online player now has the option to interact with a live dealer in a live game from the comforts of home, without having to take a road trip to the nearest land-based casino.

Last update: 30-09-2019