Blackjack History

The origins of Blackjack remain unknown to this day, but there have been plenty of stories and theories that have been great source of entertainment over the years. The game has gone through many guises throughout its history, but with the rise of online gaming, it is currently enjoyed a new lease of life on the web.

Most people believe that the earliest known version of Blackjack was invented in France in the 1700’s, then known as “Vingt Et Un”, the French for ‘21’ (others say that its origins lie in a Roman card game, but there is no proof for this theory). Although the rules and format of 21 are similar to that of today’s Blackjack, certain aspects of the game were taken from “Seven and a Half”, a card game from Italy. Pontoon” is another early Blackjack-style game, which was played in the UK and the British Commonwealth, but it is still believed that 21 was the game from which Blackjack was born.

However, in contradiction to all of these theories, there is evidence of a Blackjack-style card game dating back to 16th century Spain, documented in the “Novelas Ejemplares”, a book of short stories written by the “Don Quixote” author Miguel de Cervantes. In one of the stories, two characters are cheating at a game of “Spanish 21”.

Although Blackjack may have its origins in Europe, the game we know today only really took off when it reached the US. It is said that when the French colonists came to America after the French Revolution, 21 was by far the most popular card game and soon spread quickly across the northern half of the continent.

Gambling was then legal in North America and it wasn’t long before professional players came on the scene, as well as Blackjack playing strategies. This exciting time for the game lasted until the beginning of the 1800’s, when the US Government decided to ban all gambling in the attempt to stop corruption and the organized crime gangs that were taking over the industry.

At this time the game was still known as 21 and although it lost much of its reputation, it was still played in underground gambling dens. It wouldn’t be until 1931 that the state of Nevada would legalize gambling and the game would once again become a widespread pastime.

The casinos in Nevada decided to add an extra dimension to 21, giving a hand with a Jack and Ace a payout at 10/1. This proved to be a very popular addition to the game and gave it the new title of “Blackjack”.

Soon Blackjack playing strategies began to evolve and, in 1956, one Roger Baldwin and his team of researchers published the very first guide to the game – a study titled “Optimum Strategy in Blackjack” for the American Statistical Association.

Baldwin’s strategies were expanded further by Prof. Edward O. Thorpe, who introduced a new mathematical and scientific approach to Blackjack tactics, with his book, “Beat the Dealer”. This publication revolutionized the game and included what is considered the most famous strategy in is the history of gambling, “Card Counting”.

And the development of Blackjack strategies didn’t stop there, as IBM worker, Julian Braun, later used computer stimulators to analyze the game. Other figures to make their mark on the game were Lawrence Revere and Ken Uston. One of the most infamous cheating scandals, where a group known as the ‘MIT Blackjack Team’ stole millions from casinos across the US between 1980 and 1997, adopted Uston’s tactic of hiding a small computer in one of his shoes. This group was eventually stopped by a private detective agency known as Griffin investigations, who were hired by the gambling industry.

The latest chapter in the story of Blackjack has begun with the advent of online casinos, offering the game 24 7 to players across the world. This is easily one of the most important moments in the history of this card game and, with the continual growth of the online gaming industry, Blackjack is set to rise two new heights of popularity in the years to come.