The history of blackjack

The history of blackjack

By: Mark Hirst

The origins of blackjack are hotly debated over all over the world. Some say it was played before Jesus Christ was born, others say it was a game invented after the playing cards were invented some 600 years ago. On thing is for sure though, the game has constantly evolved and is still doing so today. If we look online there are an ever changing amount of varying games to delight the player, often with better odds than the original.

Some say the game of Blackjack dates back to 700bc during the Roman occupancy of Europe. There is no doubt that it was a different game back then as playing cards were not invented until 1440. However some argue that the Romans used to play with blacks of wood, each one with a different numerical value. If this is true then it is quite believable that the game may have dated back to this period in its simplest form. After all we know that gambling was rife at this time, with soldiers of the Roman Empire gambling anything from jewellery to wives and animals.

Fast forwarding several centuries, the origins of blackjack played with playing cards as we know today, can be traced back to the countries of either France or Italy during the 15th century. As mentioned previously the playing cards that we know today were created in 1440 by John Guttenburg and many of the earlier games revolved around counting totals, similar to what is required for blackjack.

There are some games that are similar to blackjack but do not mirror the game enough to warrant the title “the original blackjack game”. Games such as Baccarat, an Italian game invented in 1493 is one such game that is sometimes linked to the beginnings of blackjack, as is a Spanish game known as “1 & 30”. However neither really resembles the game we know today as blackjack and so the search must be directed elsewhere.

So to France where there is stronger evidence as to the origins of blackjack. In the 18th century a game known as 21 was played by the French aristocracy. The game would be played in rounds with players trying to achieve a score of 21. If the dealer achieved a score of 21 however, he would be paid at 3-1. This could be the beginnings of the house edge coming into play.

The game of 21 moved to America in 1875. It was first played in the gambling halls in 1910 keeping its original name of 21. Unfortunately the game didn’t have many takers to begin with and many of the gambling halls created new bonus payouts for certain hands in an attempt to increase its popularity. The name Blackjack came about when many gambling halls offered a bonus payout to those payers who landed the hand ace of spades and the jack of clubs or spades. Unfortunately the bonus didn’t last long but the name has stood the test of time.

By the 1930’s blackjack had become so popular that it had become the number 1 game in Vegas. Its popularity continues to grow today with high rollers often spending millions on games at the super casinos of the USA.

The internet spelt a new era for blackjack with the introduction of online casinos. Now players could enjoy the game they loved so much in the comfort of their own home. Online casinos also added new variations of the original game such as blackjack switch as well as the chance to be the dealer. Many of the new variants of the original game offer better odds for the player due to the lower running costs of the online operations. In essence there is no better time to be a blackjack player.

Mark Hirst is an experienced gambler specialising in the online industry. Visit his online blackjack strategy site for honest consumer reviews and detailed blackjack software & strategies.