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History of Blackjack

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What is Blackjack history?

A very elusive but a rather unique and intriguing history, it is commonly agreed that the very first roots of blackjack appeared during the 17th Century in France where a game called Vingt-Et-Un was played in French casinos.

The name 'Vingt Et Un' means '21' in French, which makes it quite clear that blackjack did originate from it. However, a very fundamental factor of both these card games is that their rules are sparingly different in all aspect.

The game of Blackjack has always evolved by leaps and bounds and continue to do so to this day, with new variations created all the time. From '21', Blackjack garnered its now common name when a rule was set that let a player win an additional amount of money if he receives a Jack of spades and an Ace of spades as the first two cards dealt to him.

Blackjack gained speeding momentum in the 1800's in the U.S and it has steadily maintained its popularity as a well established casino table game to date. The discovery of this casino game can be entirely attributed to the French people and is believed to be an off shot of French card games 'Chemin de fer' and 'French Ferme'.

Another game that may have contributed to the invention of blackjack is the Italian game 'seven and a half. This game was played with only 8's, 9's, 10's and face cards with face cards being considered as the 'half'.

The Spanish game 'one and thirty' has similarities to blackjack too, though the desired total is '31' rather than '21' and the game is played with three cards instead of two. Initially, blackjack did not raise much curiosity and intrigue in the minds of the people and hence gambling houses tried to entice players with various bonus payouts.

In today's gambling scenario, Jack is no longer required and any ten value card with an Ace now makes up for a winning hand and the blackjack remains a testimony true to the game's origins and history.

Most casinos now, technically speaking offers a payout of 3 to 2 on a natural blackjack irrespective of its suit and color. In Russia, blackjack is called '21' or 'Ochko' (The Hole) and the other early variations include 'Pontoon' and 'California Aces'.

Like most gambling games, the precise origin and history of blackjack is clouded and still remains a mystery. A majority of scholars and historians though have finally concluded that the French game Vingt En Un is the most likely predecessor to the modern game of blackjack.

Initially, Blackjack in America was heralded by names like Vingt Et Un or 21. Since the game didn't muster as much popularity and fame over a period of time, the term blackjack was created from an early bet that paid 10 to 1.

In the late 1950's and 1960's, mathematical information was published (see Stanford Wong and Ed Thorp) that showed sophisticated gamblers how they could play nearly even with the house and perhaps gain a slight edge with the correct Blackjack strategy. This information sparked the interest of the public and made it the number one table game in the U.S in the 1960's. The casinos were however not happy with the success of the book and subsequently made changes to improve theirs odds. This restored the casino's edge to odds they considered acceptable.


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