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History of Blackjack

Nowadays blackjack is the most popular played game both online and at a land based casino. But it was never this famous. In fact, it took years before it became available worldwide in casinos. This article looks back the history of blackjack also known as twenty one.

The beginning of blackjack

Most experts agree about the origins of blackjack. It was inspired by the French card game “Chemin de Fer” and “French ferme”. In the 18th century it was played in France as twenty one.

It’s journey to the United States

French immigrants introduced the game to the United States after the French revolution. It was not very popular in this country. During this period gambling was still legal but the government believed that the game was used by organised crime and it encouraged corruption. In 1910, gambling became illegal during the ban, the honest players stopped playing but the industry continued to flourish illegally and became more criminalized. It was one of the main reasons the state of Nevada legalised gambling in 1931. This decision gave birth to gambling capitals such as Las Vegas and Reno. In these casinos new games were offered like blackjack slightly known. In the beginning it had little success until the institutions started offering bonus payments to attract players. One of the bonus paid 10 to 1 if the player had an ace of spade and a black jack. Thus game became known as black jack. This option is no longer available but its name was preferred to twenty one.

Introduction of basic strategy

The success of blackjack made the dedicated players to devise a system where they could win more often and have a higher advantage to the casino. In 1953 an American scientist roger Baldwin changed the game when he published an article in the American Statistical Association journal titled The Optimum strategy in Blackjack. The article was a huge success. It was in fact the first article to apply mathematical theories to the game of blackjack. The article gave rise to what is known today as Basic Strategy.

The system of card counting

In 1962 another American Edward O. Thorp invented another system even more profitable for the players. It is to monitor the card distribution to determine whether the shoe is to your advantage or not in order to increase or decrease your bet called Hi-Low count, this technique of card counting is detailed in the book still available today Beat The Dealer. Other systems for counting cards also emerged such as K.O count and Hi-Opt I and II.

The reaction of casinos

The successful methods of increasing the players’ winnings were dazzling. The casinos became worried and decided to change the rules to their advantage. Protests and boycotts of players forced them to re-establish the basic game. They introduced new techniques like automatic card shuffling machines and multiple decks. This meant they still had a higher advantage and still continued to make money.

The era of legendary winners

The different systems of card counting allowed players to win lots of money. Some became truly legendary. The first was Ken Uston. In 1977, he won nearly $100 000 in a few weeks by using pocket-sized computer devices that slid into his team mates shoes. Another group which had much success was the famous MIT blackjack team composed of students from the most famous American university. The team won several million dollars. There is a movie based on the team and on their infamous technique called Las Vegas 21 with Kevin Spacey and Laurence Fishburne.

Online blackjack

Since the mid 90s the great casino classic blackjack is now available online including roulette, video poker and slots. Nowadays you can enjoy from the comfort of your own home this truly simple and entertaining game similar to the casino blackjack. Now you can play whenever and wherever you want without being bothered by crowds.