The origins of Blackjack is still under debate to this day. There is no clear consensus, but researchers agree that Blackjack probably originated in the French casinos around 1700. The French cards were called Vingt-et-Un, translated it means twenty-one. These cards are probably derived from card games Chemin de Fer and French Ferme, which were popular at that time. The card game was roughly played at the French Royal Court during the reign of King Louis XV.
There is a theory that revolves around Blackjack. The theory is that Blackjack is an invention by the Romans. It is believed that Romans played this game with wooden blocks with different numbers. The theory stands because Romans loved to gamble but it’s not 100% confirmed.
Besides the various versions of Vingt-et-Un, the popularity of the card games expanded through North America, thanks to the French colonists. The rules were different than the contemporary Blackjack we know. In the earlier form of Blackjack, only the dealer was allowed to double.
The Card Game in 18th Century
Across Europe, there are other card games that could have determined the development of Vingt-et-Un, which is seen as the forerunner of Blackjack. These card games are Spanish Trente-Un (One and Thirty), Italian Sette e Mezzo (Seven and a Half) and French Quinze (Fifteen).
Sette e Mezzo is an Italian card game that is played with a deck of 40 cards. The face cards count as half a point and the Ace can be counted up to seven points, other cards count as their normal value.
Trente-Un is an Spanish card game where you have to get as close to 31 points as possible. Picture cards do not count as 10, the Jack cards are counted to 11 points, while the Queen cards are 12 points and the King cards are 13 points.
Both card games together with Quinze had values to each of the playing cards. The objective of the games was to draw cards until you would reach a close certain value. Some cards had flexible points for the ace, same with the modern version of blackjack.
Trente-Un, Quinze and Sette e Mezzo are much older than Vingt-et-Un, they are originated in the 15th and 16th centuries. It is very likely that these card games influenced the French game of 21, which became very popular in the 18th century. Vingt-et-Un was such in vogue because the earlier games had the element of skill.
The card game has made it to the American shore in the 18th century with the help of French colonists. But there are several differences between Vingt-et-Un and modern Blackjack when comes to the rules of the game. In some cases, the dealer’s second card is visible to players. It was also regular for the dealer to make his own decisions. However, after the start of the game, the dealer would follow the mandatory rules of blackjack, where they would need to have up to 16 points and maintain on 17 points or more.
The Card Game in 19th Century
The game couldn’t spread and develop in France in the 19th century. However, during this time the game evolved and gained popularity in America. The game would be seen in New Orleans in 1820 at the legalized gambling halls.
Also during this time, there was a tale of Eleanor Dumont. She was born in France and immigrated to America. She was a skilled dealer and was traveling around until she opened a gambling hall in Nevada City, California. Ironically, the place was named Vingt-et-Un. People were coming from all around the country to play against Eleanor, just because she was considered a rarity between card dealers.
The Great Era of the Casinos
The 20th century was the great era of the casinos. The precursor of the blackjack was still called 21 in Nevada. During this time the card game 21 has changed its name to Blackjack. The rules have also changed following with the legalization of gambling. Defined by the Nevada Gaming Commision, the game rules are still used nowadays.
Around the year of 1950, the first blackjack card counters appeared. In 1957, four players, Baldwin, Cantey, Maisel and McDermott wrote a book called “Playing Blackjack to Win”. The book included basic strategies to keep track of the cards. The casinos didn’t give the attention it needed so by the year of 1962, Edward O. Thorp wrote the book “Beat the Dealer”.
The book is considered even today the birth of card counting. The author was an mathematician that devised a ten-count system. The system would start with 2 numbers, then 16 and 36, which were related to the 10’s in the deck. When the game started, the author would count backward and divide the remaining card numbers with the remaining of 10’s. This type of calculation is named the “Thorp Ratio”. The system worked when the game was played with a single deck. Today, blackjack is played with numerous decks, which makes the system very complex to use.
By the year 1963, the computer scientist Harvey Dubner introduced the high-low method of card counting. The newer system was included in the second edition of Thorp’s book “Beat the Dealer” in 1966. The computers helped the blackjack players to quickly adapt their strategies and around this time the casinos embraced the card counters. Additionally, blackjack dealers would even hand out the basic table strategy and offer advice on the ideal move to play in a difficult situation.
Nowadays, it’s still possible to use card counting. However, more and advanced complicated counting systems are recommended, which can take a lot of concentration and stamina in order to master it. At the same time, blackjack dealers are highly trained to identify potential card counters. However, by the rules of New Jersey Supreme Court, card counting is not illegal.
Despite the measures taken by the casinos to detect and prevent card counters, blackjack is one of the most popular card games in Las Vegas and all over the world. With the Internet booming, the next developed blackjack has arrived. The online casinos, similar to Gametwist casino, provides the classic version of the game and also wide varieties of the game with different rules and features.
The card counting of online blackjack is virtually impossible. Even if there are 6 to 8 card decks, they are shuffled everytime a hand is played. The technology of the computer does this within a fraction of a second. This is also led to single deck games, which have not been played for decades because of card counting.
With the arrival of online casinos, players could play blackjack anytime. The game was also offering different variations to play. Unfortunately, the major drawback of blackjack online was the lack of the atmosphere. The demand was live games to be introduced. The first live casinos were not perfect. Games were streamed from land-based casinos and the view of the game was blurry, thus the limitation of technology at that time gave poor quality to the video stream. Also, the interaction with the dealer was impossible. The player’s experience was not satisfying.
In 2006, new and better playing experience arrived with the help of built studios that were used just for the live games. The new approach provided advantages because the video quality was in high definition and there were more cameras where players could view the game. The players could also finally interact with the dealer, like in a real casino. Players could see the shuffling card made by the dealer and there was an option to introduce an unlimited number of players to take part in the game. The only disadvantage of live blackjack is the lack of game variants. You can only play the game with the standard rules and real dealers.
Another outstanding variant of the card game is Blackjack Party. It is the classic version of the game, but with two dealers. One of the dealers is distributing the cards, while the other one interacts and entertains the players. In the game, there is a lot of chat and upbeat music is played in the background.