There’s little escaping the fact that blackjack is one of the most popular casino games to ever exist. Of course, there’s long been a following of this classic game in land-based casinos, but the ability to play online has opened this game up to a whole new audience.
While slots are also an incredibly popular game of choice, these are something that are a relatively new concept (if you can class 1894 as modern). Blackjack can be traced back much further and is a game that has shown it is able to endure.
Perhaps part of the reason that blackjack has been so popular for so long is the fact that it is able to adapt. At online casinos, and at those that are land-based, there are an array of new variants of the game along with a host of side bets that are all designed to make the game even more exciting.
If you want to know a little more about blackjack, and where the game came from, we’ve got you covered. As you read on you’ll learn about the origins. How the game has evolved, and why you should be playing the all-time casino classic.
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Just how far back in history does blackjack go?
Our first exploration into the history of blackjack may prove to be a little disappointing. The thing is, no one can pinpoint a particular year that the game came into being. In fact, most people can’t even agree in which country the game first appeared. There are two main theories:
The game originated in Spain
Within a Spanish dictionary, dating back to 1611, you can find references to a game called Ventiuno. This translates as 21. The dictionary was split into various categories, and this word appeared in a section referred to as Carta or cards.
There is also a suggestion that the game could date back even further than this. The Spanish author, Miguel de Cervantes, wrote a series of 12 short stories all the way back in 1601. One of these stories focuses on a couple cheating while playing Veintiuna. It’s highly likely that the game being referred to is what we now know to be blackjack and, if it is, that would make the game over 400 years old.
The French connection
There was a time when all things gambling-related were seen as something a little seedy. It was an activity that only a certain class of people would take part in, and it was frowned upon by the upper classes. We have the French to thank for changing all of that.
It was the social elite in France that made gambling an acceptable activity. They took the games from questionable drinking establishments, and even the streets, and set them in fine rooms where the upper class would mingle.
There are French references to games known as Vingt-Un and Ving-et-Un. these both refer to 21 and it is said That King Louis XV was a huge fan. That may have been the case, but there was no written reference to the game in France until 1817.
Blackjack and the US
While it’s far from confirmed, there’s a very good chance that the name, blackjack, itself, was coined in the US. When the game arrived in the US, is another point that’s up for debate, but generally, there are three theories.
There are those who firmly believe that what would become such a casino favourite. Made its way to the US in the early 1800s. Others will argue that it first made its mark almost 100 years later during World War One. Then there are still others who believe that the first real evidence of blackjack being in the country came about during the Great Depression in the 1930s.
Blackjack and online casinos
Of course, when you look back at the dates that blackjack first started to gain in popularity. It was all about land-based casinos. Something that has helped to maintain the appeal of the game is the fact that it made the transition to online so well.
While online blackjack has allowed so many more people the opportunity to enjoy the game, it has also done something else. It has sparked an interest in the game that perhaps has never been seen before. Now, more than ever, people are constantly on the hunt to learn all about strategies as well as learning about the history of the game.
Why is blackjack so popular?
Something that became apparent in the very early days of blackjack is that it’s a game that is easy to play. Yes, we may have seen the addition of new variants, side bets, and even rule changes, but at its heart, blackjack is a really simple game that anyone can enjoy.
Of course, another big attraction of this game is the low house edge. While this is true, it’s not until you start to explore the game in a little more detail that you realise that you can have a huge impact on the house edge. That really low house edge, that blackjack is famed for, only really comes to fruition once you’ve mastered the likes of basic strategy.
How the game of blackjack has evolved
As we’ve seen, one of the reasons that blackjack has remained so popular is the fact that the game has adapted. Whether you’re playing online or at a land-based casino, you’ll find that there are multiple variations of this great game. In reality, it would be impossible to consider them all in the space of this article, but what we can do is take a look at the three most popular versions that are played:
Also known as Traditional Blackjack, this is definitely the most popular version of the game. You will find it featured in practically every land-based, and online, casino going. This is the version of the game with simplicity as one of its major attractions.
This version of blackjack retains the majority of features that you’ll find in the classic game. But there are differences to be found in the betting and deal structure. These differences include:
• 1. The dealer has to stay on soft 17
• 2. Players can only split once
• 3. The dealer doesn’t check for blackjack mid-game
• 4. Players can only double down on 9, 10, and 11
The big change with Atlantic City is the fact that players are able to surrender. When they’ve assessed their cards, and after the dealer has peeked and their face-down card, a player can choose to forfeit. When this happens, half of the money is returned to the player and the other half is kept by the house. This provides a way for a player to cut their losses if they’ve been dealt a really lousy hand.
Blackjack or 21?
There may have been times when you’ve heard people refer to the game 21. Given that blackjack sees you trying to make a total of 21. You may have wondered if these are actually the same game. The truth here is that 21 is blackjack in its crudest form. It was developments over the years that led to the game that we know and love today.
The original game of 21 can still be found, but only if you look hard enough! It has certainly become much more difficult to locate at land-based casinos and is virtually non-existent at online sites. The big difference with this game is that players are competing against each other. With blackjack, it is only the dealer that you’re trying to beat.
One of the most successful blackjack players in history
If you’ve read through our news articles. You’ll have seen us cover the stories of some of the biggest winners in the history of blackjack. One of these is a man going by the name of Don Johnson. Johnson was a keen player in Atlantic City and some of his success was down to the fact that he wasn’t afraid to hustle. He would negotiate the rules to make them more favourable and he would do all he could to get the house edge down.
The result of this hustle was that Johnson went on a 6-month playing spree during 2011. During this time he won an astonishing $15 million, making him one of the biggest blackjack winners the world has ever seen.
The future of blackjack
There’s little doubt that blackjack will continue to evolve. There are likely to be newer versions of the games and more and more side bet options added. The reality is, that developers behind the games always seem to know what the players want and always seem to be able to keep things fresh and interesting.
If you’re keen to keep an eye out for developments that are on their way. Our site is the best place to be to stay in the know.