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The History of Blackjack

The History of Blackjack

Like all today’s popular gambling games, Blackjack has a long and fascinating history.  This popular game, now played in casinos worldwide and various online slots websites, took some twists and turns in the journey to becoming the game we know and love today.  Here’s a brief history of the game’s evolution.


Blackjack and the Romans

It’s not certain, though some believe that Blackjack may have originated in Ancient Rome.  While it’s true that the Romans were keen gamblers, there’s no hard evidence, but some historians think Romans may have played a game similar to Blackjack using wooden blocks.


Spanish ‘One and Thirty’

A more likely theory is that a precursor of modern Blackjack appeared in the 18th Century.  A similar game was played in Spain, called ‘One and Thirty’, the object of which was to reach a total of 31 with at least 3 cards.  



The Spanish brother of One and Thirty was called ‘Vingt-et-Un’ (Twenty-One), and became popular in French casinos of the time.  French colonists eventually brought it to North America, where it spread like wildfire, and began to more closely resemble modern Blackjack.  In this version, there was a round of betting in between each card dealt, and only the dealer was allowed to double.


A Change of Name

Blackjack earned its name around the 1930s.  When gambling became legal in Nevada, ‘21’ became very popular, and some casinos began to tempt players with a special extra.  A hand with a black jack and the ace of spades would pay 10-1 odds on the bet.  This feature was discontinued, but the name stuck.


Blackjack in the Movies

Over the years, Blackjack has captured the hearts and imaginations of gambling enthusiasts aplenty.  It’s also captured the imagination of many film makers.  The tense and exciting mechanic of hitting and hitting, trying to avoid going ‘bust’, has made for some fascinating movie scenes.  The most notable appearance of Blackjack in the movies is perhaps the 1988 film Rain Man, in which Dustin Hoffman plays an autistic man with an amazing talent for card counting.


Blackjack Today

Today, Blackjack is played with several players and a dealer.  One of its interesting features is that the players do not compete against each other, but against the dealer.  The object of the game is for the player to reach 21 points on their first 2 cards, to get a total score higher than the dealer, but of 21 or less, or to let the dealer draw until the dealer’s score goes over 21.  The game has many variations, including British Pontoon, which has its own unique vocabulary.  For example, where in Blackjack you might say ‘hit’, in British Pontoon you would say ‘twist’.  Similarly, the terms ‘stand’ and ‘double’ are replaced with ‘stick’ and ‘buy’.


The Future of Blackjack

As evidenced in the popularity of online gaming websites such as Slots Baby, gambling is evolving alongside technology.  Though Blackjack remains a popular staple in land-based casinos, technology is constantly opening up new avenues and possibilities for the game.  For example, most online casino sites now offer live Blackjack tournaments, and use fast connection speeds to let players challenge the dealer in real-time.  Who knows where we’ll go from here?