The documented origins of Blackjack can be traced to seventeenth century France, although many suspect that its roots go back even further.
The classic game, originally known as ‘Vingt-et-Un’ or Twenty One, travelled across the Atlantic and by the beginning of the twentieth century it was becoming popular in American casinos.
Twenty One was not an instant hit and to spice it up a little, wily casino bosses changed the rules to include more favorable odds if the Jack and Ace of Spades were drawn together as the first two cards. Not only did this rule kick start the popularity of the game but it also lead to its re-naming as Blackjack.
The game really hit a high when gambling was legalized in the state of Nevada in the early thirties. Blackjack was rife in all the Las Vegas casinos, creating a real buzz. In more recent times, the film ‘Twenty One’, released in 2008, as well as televised programs such as ‘Ultimate Blackjack Tour’ and ‘Celebrity Blackjack’ have seen the popularity of the game soar to new, dizzy heights.
Beating the Odds
There are many variations of the game, such as Spanish 21, Caribbean 21 and Pontoon. The simplicity of the game, mixed with the cocktail of luck and skill, appealed to many, whilst professional punters felt that this was game they could figure out a way to win.
The most famed figure associated with documenting possible winning strategies, is Professor Edward Thorp. Using math as the basis of his theory, he published a work called, ‘Beat the Dealer’ in 1962, which is widely credited as introducing the world to the ‘Blackjack Strategy’. This strategy introduced card counting as a method of improving player odds. The concept involved keeping track of the cards already played in order to anticipate those still to be dealt.
The book further fanned the flames of the popularity of Blackjack, giving punters extra confidence and new tactics. Casino owners were forced to change the rules to counteract the Blackjack Strategy, introducing shuffling machines and multi deck games to make card counting more difficult.
Blackjack Goes Online
Blackjack has stood the test of time well; it has crossed inter-generational barriers and seeped into the social scene of different countries, age ranges and cultures. Now, with the cyber revolution having taken place, Blackjack has yet again proven its enduring attraction – see our Online Blackjack article for more about this.
Blackjack tournaments offer the thrill of competing against other players – there are a series of casino events throughout the year, including World Championships. Online blackjack tournaments take place on a more regular basis and can offer fantastic prizes.
Blackjack is still going strong over 400 years since its humble origins. The success of the online game in recent years seems to indicate that it will be around for many years to come, allowing future generations to enjoy the thrills, twists and turns of this great gaming classic.