The Origin Of Blackjack
By: Adel Awwad
The game of Blackjack was introduced to the United States in the 19th century but the origin of the game is still much in dispute. Blackjack can be traced back to several European card games including the French ‘Vingt-Un’ (21), ‘Trente et Quarente’, and ‘Chemin de Fer’ (Railroad), as well as the Spanish ‘One and Thirty’, Italian ‘Baccara’ and ‘Seven and a half’ which all have similarities to modern Blackjack.
When gambling was legalized in Nevada in 1934, Blackjack screamed into popularity and was most commonly played with one or two decks of cards. Roger Baldwin published a paper in 1956 which explained hot to reduce the house advantage based on probability and statistics which was quite confusing for those who were not mathematicians.
In 1962, Dr. Edward O. Thorp used an IBM 704 computer to refine the mathematical strategy in Baldwin’s paper and also developed the first card counting techniques. Dr. Thorp wrote a book called “Beat the Dealer” which outlined card counting techniques and the strategies for reducing the house advantage.
This spawned a huge increase in Blackjack players at the US casinos who were trying to implement Dr. Thorp’s strategies, much to the consternation of the casinos. The system was difficult to understand and hard to implement and thusly increased the profits for the casinos as more and more people took to playing Blackjack.
Blackjack is the most popular table card game in the United States today which was transformed from the one table game that used to be stuck in the corner of most casinos. The term Blackjack comes from the ‘natural hand winner’ of the earlier versions of the game when a player was dealt the Jack and Ace of Spades in his initial two card hand. The player was declared an automatic winner and was paid a bonus. In today’s version of Blackjack, any ace combined with any ten point value card-10, jack, queen and king, counts as a natural Blackjack, except after a split.
Blackjack is a widely popular game around the world and has only seen an increase in players as the years progress. What once was a game that was not popular and seemingly too difficult to play with ‘strategies’ and ‘counting cards’ it is now the most popular card game to play at a casino in most of the world.
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