A Brief History of Blackjack

Monday, Aug 21, 2017 11:41

Blackjack is probably the world’s favourite casino game and takes prominent placing at all online and real-world establishments. For more than 400 years the game has been delighting and exciting players around the globe and although the way we have played the game may have changed since the 17th century nothing has come close to the elation of hitting ‘21’. But where was the game invented? How have the rules changed? And why has it become a casino staple?

The Birth of Blackjack


The origins of blackjack can be traced back to the game of 21, a precursor to the casino game of blackjack that we know and love today. The exact origins of 21 are unknown but the earliest mention of the game dates back to 1601 in a book by Spanish author Miguel de Cervantes. The game shares many of the main characteristics of the blackjack that we know today. Each card in the deck is assigned is assigned a numerical value, with aces counting as 1 or 11 and the object of the game is to reach 21 points without going over. The main difference between this early version and the modern game is that it is played with a Spanish baraja deck of cards which lacks eights and nines.

A similar game, ‘Vingt et Un’, is known to have been popular in France in the early 1700’s. The game, which translates to 21 in English, was first introduced to French casinos at the start of the 18th century. In Spain, a similar game was also being played around the same time called ‘Thirty-One’. The aim of this game was to reach a score of 31 with 3 cards or more. It’s likely that several similar games developed around the world independently and influenced each other to create the game of blackjack that we know today.

Growth in Popularity


In the early 1900s, the early variants of blackjack spread from Europe around the globe. Blackjack was first introduced to North America by French colonists though the rules were slightly different to the modern game with more betting rounds during each hand and only the dealer was allowed to double their bet. The game didn’t catch on immediately, it was deemed to be too slow and boring with poor payouts. It was only when Nevada casinos began offering bonus payouts, a 10 to 1 payout for players who hit 21 with a hand made up of an Ace of Spades and a Black Jack, in the 1930’s that the game saw a surge in popularity. This name of the hand a ‘Blackjack stuck even though the bonus was soon withdrawn.

The Modern Game


Today, Blackjack is probably the world’s most played casino game. The game appeals to players because of its relatively straightforward and simple rules coupled with its potential to excite and thrill. The games 3 to 2 payout has ensured that it remained a favourite over the years. Players can win instantly win by getting blackjack but can still win even if they don’t, provided they beat the dealer. Blackjack is a feature of all online and real-world casinos and its popularity shows no signs of fading.


Check out our article on Blackjack Strategy now!