The History of Blackjack

Old Fashioned CardsIn the seventeenth century, French and Italian gamblers were playing a game called twenty-one. This was as close to blackjack as you could get without being in a modern casino. The goal was the same: get to twenty-one. There were, however, a couple of differences. For starters, the dealer was the only one allowed to double down. Also, unlike the modern game, each round of blackjack consisted of multiple betting rounds.

After the French revolution, several casino games including craps, roulette, and twenty-one, found their way over to America. Even though gambling was, for the most part, illegal in the United States, card games were completely unrestricted. This loophole allowed for twenty-one to become much more popular.

The Name "Blackjack"

To draw in new players, early blackjack hosts would offer 10:1 payouts for any players who were dealt both an ace, and a black jack (spade or club). The name for this 21-point hand was dubbed blackjack. Over time, players developed new strategies and the game began to become much more mainstream.

As twenty-one started popping up in more and more casinos, it began to go through its final changes. Even though the 10:1 special offer never survived, the name lived on. Eventually, twenty-one became the game that we call blackjack today.

Blackjack Strategy Is Born

In 1953, a man named Rodger Baldwin lead a team of statisticians on a quest to come up with the perfect blackjack strategy. Their final article, titled Optimum Strategy in Blackjack, was published by the American Statistical Association. As the twentieth century drew on, more mathematicians chimed in, and the modern ideal blackjack strategy was born.

With a growing trend towards mathematical blackjack systems, Las Vegas casinos were running scared and changed many of the rules to increase the house edge. Quickly, though, it became apparent that their plan had backfired. The technical changes became a public relations nightmare, and in no time at all the old rules, as well as the faith of American gamblers, were restored.

Even though, with optimum strategy, the house edge is reduced to nearly 0%, the Las Vegas Casinos continued to rake in millions of dollars from their blackjack tables. This might seem contradictory, but the truth is that very few blackjack players observe perfect strategy 100% of the time. In reality, most people are swayed by their instincts and everybody makes mistakes.

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Turning The Tables

In the eighties, the concept of card counting was catching on. Starting with a group of cheats who had hidden computers in their shoes, and eventually culminating with the world-renowned MIT Blackjack team, people began to beat the house at its own game. These players walked away with tales of winning millions of dollars by playing within the boundaries of both the game and the law.

Ironically enough, these players most likely helped the casino industry make many more millions of dollars by inspiring players to hit the tables. Since the start of the twenty-first century, thousands of players have flocked to Las Vegas thinking they could beat the house, but most are simply not skilled enough.

The Digital Age

In the digital age, with the internet reaching to every corner of the world, blackjack is seeing the biggest change in over a century. As blackjack casinos start to pop on over the Internet, players can access the tables anytime and anywhere they choose. At the same time, we also saw the birth of the online casino bonus. This gives new players a great opportunity that doesn't exist in land casinos.

Even if a digital table isn't quite the same as a vacation to Las Vegas, online blackjack's impact cannot be denied. Since players can get regular access to casino blackjack, the opportunity to learn and implement the proper strategies is always present. We're just beginning to see the consequences of this, but rest assured that a whole new breed of tech-savvy card counters is being groomed as we speak.