History of Blackjack

Blackjack has an interesting history; and it would be interesting to note that nobody invented the game. Card games with rules strikingly similar to modern blackjack were played in Europe in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The game grew, changed, and evolved from generation to generation and is still growing and evolving into better versions. Since the game is popular for its low house edge and excellent payouts, online casinos have developed several variants, including multi-hand blackjack. Although there are several variants of blackjack today, the basic rules of classic blackjack govern each variant.

The game is widely believed to have originated in French. A game called Vingt-et-Un, which bears a striking similarity to blackjack, was played in French casinos in the early eighteenth century. Whenever a player got an ace and a jack of spades, he/she would win a bonus. Owing to this peculiar rule, the game was later re-christened as blackjack.

The game was also played in Italy as Seven and a Half, in which players were dealt face cards and 7, 8, and 9 cards. The value of face cards was held to be one point while the value of numbered cards was held to be half a point. Players of Seven and a Half were expected to create a hand equaling seven and a half points to win the jackpot. If they exceeded that value, they were considered to have gone “bust.” The King of Diamonds was the wild card of this game. The Spanish also played a blackjack-like game called One and Thirty, in which they were expected to create a hand equaling 31, instead of 21.

During the French Revolution, the game was taken to North America, where it evolved and became immensely popular. Professional gamblers realized that blackjack could help them win large jackpots and developed blackjack strategies to enhance their chances of winning. Although the US government adopted an anti-gambling stance, blackjack grew in popularity and was largely played in stealth. When the state of Nevada legalized gambling activities in 1931, blackjack was offered in Las Vegas casinos, after which it became more popular than ever, attracting the attention of not only professional gamblers, but also scientists, statisticians, and mathematicians.

Serious attempts were made to study blackjack scientifically after the mid-twentieth century, as a result of which several books were written about it. Roger Baldwin and his team were the first to study the game and write the first blackjack strategy book titled “Optimum Strategy in Blackjack.” Prof. Edward O. Thorp made a better attempt to understand blackjack in the early sixties, and his book “Beat the Dealer” became a best seller almost overnight. It terrified land casinos enough to alter blackjack rules; however, casinos later realized that the book did not really make a difference in the way players played blackjack and reverted to classic or traditional blackjack.

Many more blackjack books were written down the decades and are still being written and the game remains one of the most popular games at online casinos.