What’s the history of everyone’s favorite casino game?
The actual game predates casinos by a wide, wide margin…like hundreds of years. Blackjack has been played in some form or another since the very early 1600s and possibly even before then. It continues to grow as it could be the most popular game you will find in your online casino.
The great Miguel Cervantes is well known as the author of the classic Don Quixote, but he was also a serious gambler and he wrote a story around 1601 or 1602 about a man that would attempt to cheat at a game called “ventiuna”, which is the Spanish word for twenty-one. The general rules for this game was that you had to get to twenty-one without going over that total, so you would have to think that Cervantes had heard or played the game before he wrote the story, which was called Rinconete y Cortadillo, from his book of short stories, Novelas Ejemplares. Some also say that the game was started by the French, who had a game called “vingt en un”, which is the French phrase for twenty-one.
The game was then brought over to North American in the early 1900’s and early places where you could play it would offer bonuses for certain hands. One was when you received an ace of spades and a jack of either spades or clubs, which would make it a black jack and that is where the name that we know came from. Since the game was brought to America, there have been many different ways created to play the game, but at its core, the objective of the game is still the same: get to twenty-one without going over the total, while managing to best the dealer or the house. Its simplicity makes it a game that anyone of any age can play, which is why it is so popular at only casinos.
Of course, it is a card game and that means players have been trying to beat the system for hundreds of years, going back to Cervantes’ story. Card-counting has been attempted at many casinos to varying degrees of success, but those have been able to do it well have written books about it and the entire goal is to minimize the house edge, which increases with the amount of decks you add to the game. However, if you try to do it at a land-based casino, you may be greeted with resistance (and that is putting it nicely), and to try to do it online would be extremely difficult because of the technological advances, unless you can write a program that does it.
Expect the history of blackjack to go forward as it moves deeper into the online era and players try new ways to beat the house, or you could sit back and enjoy the fun of one of the oldest (if not the oldest) card game out there.