BlackJack is one of the most popular casino cards games in the casino. It is far the most common and most well known table card game in a casino. Blackjack, or 21, has a disputable origin and no one really knows where it actually came from. Some say that blackjack history starts with the French, some say Spanish, Arabic and Chinese. Whichever it is, blackjack is one of the oldest documented card games.
Let’s begin our blackjack history timeline with the invention of cards.
Blackjack history is a bit of a mystery. Some records show playing cards or wood blocks being used in Ancient China and Egypt as early as 900AD.
The first mention of playing cards in Europe appear around this time. Playing denominations and examples are seen on hand-painted paper.
Wood-block cards were designed in Germany and exported in great numbers to many parts of the developing world. With the advances in the printing press, card playing increased in popularity. Distribution and availability of playing cards increased.
1700 – 16th Century – Blackjack history gets a name
Many respected sources say that Blackjack was most likely a child of a French casino game called Vingt-et-Un which, translated, simply means twenty-one.
21, was introduced into America and has been played ever since wherever gambling occured. Early in its rise in popularity, the contemporary 52 card deck used in England was referred to the French Pack.
Other claims of blackjack roots come from the Italian casino game known as “Seven and a Half” or the Spanish casino game “One and Thirty.” These games do have many similarities to 21. Variations of the game seem to have contributed to the blackjack game we know and love today.
1931 – Blackjack history goes main stream
Nevada legalizes casino gambling. Blackjack becomes one of the primary table card games of chance offered to gambling patrons.
In the early days of western gambling halls and casinos, poker and craps were the predominantly preferred games of the high-roller players. Twenty-One, as it was played at the time, had not really caught on. The gambling halls had to find a way to make the game more enticing and attractive to gamblers so they used BlackJack. Clubs began offering a tempting ten to one payout to players who got a specific combo of two starting Blackjack cards. I.E., an ace of spades with a black jack from the deck (jack of spades of clubs) would get paid out the bonus. This resulted in the new game of Twenty-One becoming Blackjack because of particular cards combo bonuses and payouts.
1950s – 1960s
Blackjack books were developed around Blackjack to make the game more intriguing to players. The Journal of the American Statistical Association published a paper in 1956, called “The Optimum Strategy in Blackjack” by Roger Baldwin. These books peaked the interest of many gambling enthusiasts.
Edward Thorp, also known as the ‘Einstein of Blackjack’, produced a infamously hit book called “Beat the Dealer”. “Beat the Dealer” received overwhelming response from the gambling public and launched blackjack into the mainstream. Professor Thorp introduces brand new strategies such as the ‘first card counting techniques’ .
Casino gambling was legalized in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Blackjack was one of the casino table games on the casino floor.
MIT Blackjack Team start (a group of students and ex-students from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard Business School, Harvard University) uses card counting techniques and other secret blackjack betting strategies to beat casinos at blackjack.
Blackjack hits the movies. Blackjack is spotlighted in the Hollywood Best Picture “Rain Man” with Academy Award winners Dustin Hoffman and Tom Cruise.
With the internet software and security technologies in high-gear, blackjack goes into the privates homes of players everywhere through online casino sites and portals.
Jeffrey Ma publishes a book titled The House Advantage: Playing the Odds to Win Big in Business about his time on the 1994 MIT blackjack team.
Social Networks and social casino gaming era includes many apps where users can now play Blackjack for free.
21 – The movie, inspired by Bringing Down the House was produced and starred by Kevin Spacey and Jim Sturgess.
BlackJack History: Hollywood movie 21
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