It’s perhaps the most popular game in casinos, both online and offline and for one simple reason – it is, by far, the simplest game to play and all you need to learn how to play it is a deck of cards and the ability to count. Since you’re reading this, we can assume you can count and you have access to a deck of cards, or the funds to buy some.
The origins of blackjack, like most casino games, are a bit vague, but they can be traced back in literature to the early 17th century, so you can assume the game of 21 (the early variation of blackjack) was around before them, perhaps back to 16th century Europe. This would put it in line with most casino games, like baccarat and roulette.
The game caught on in Europe due to the simplicity of it and the ability to play it anywhere (much like craps can be played on the street even now, as long as you have dice). Things like advanced strategy were not around then, so it really was a simple game – the player closest to 21 without going bust wins. Sound familiar? Well, the game hasn’t really changed much since the inception.
But what has changed? Well, the game was originally played between two people, winner takes the pot, so there was no 3:2 for blackjack, or any side bets. You have to remember this game wouldn’t have been played in a casino, just drinking establishments or in the homes of the aristocracy.
Of course, there were regional variations of the game. The game Pontoon was played in Britain, while the French played Vingt En Un, both similar, with subtle difference to the game we know and love today.
Finally, the game got shipped over to America in the 19th century and that’s where it took off and gained its name. You see, we all love a bit of variety, don’t we? We all like getting our 3:2 on blackjacks, but these weren’t around when 21 hit American shores. So, bonuses had to be offered to players to entice them to play 21 and one of them consisted of a winning hand of the Ace of Spades and a “black jack”. Since it was a popular enticement (like Perfect Pairs and the like these days), the blackjack name stuck to the game of 21 and now we all know the game, just not how it got the name.
The game has had some tweaks to it over time, like the aforementioned Perfect Pairs, or 21+3, but the heart of the game remains the same – beat the dealer’s hand and win double your bet. No amount of gimmicks will ever change that, because the game is rooted in history. Sure, we all love the variations, but I bet you, just like me, learnt to play the standard game of blackjack when we were young, then we learnt basic strategy and then some of us went on to learn advanced strategy. No gimmicks will ever change that!
However, if you want to try out all the different blackjack variations, head over to Bodog Casino or Rushmore Casino, as they have enough blackjack variations to shake a stick at: Face Up 21, Pontoon, Perfect Pairs and more… just too many to try in one session.
Additional Blackjack History Questions:
The answer to the question What is the History of Blackjack? is also applicable for the following questions: