The history of blackjack originated in French Casinos in around 1700. Prior to this, there had been a few variations of the card game we now know as Blackjack, or 21 but the game that was formulated in the early 18th century is perhaps the closest match to the game and rules we know today.
Blackjack was formerly known as Vingt-et-Un which when translated from French means 21. The game of black jack also has its origins from popular French games of the time called Chemin de Fer, and French Femme.
During the rise of the European casinos on the continent in the 19th century as well as the growth of Las Vegas in the 1930s, Blackjack became one of the most popular casino card games because of it simplicity as well as a certain degree of logic that needs to be applied while playing.
Blackjack was still referred to as 21 up until the mid-20th century before casino owners had a dazzling idea. A special bet of 10/1 was paid on hands that possessed both a jack of spades, or clubs, as well as the ace of spades. This special hand was referred to as the Blackjack.
Although this side bet was later scrapped, the name stuck, and Blackjack became a popular fixture in casinos all across the world, alongside the likes of poker and roulette. There are various strategies to win in Blackjack so you might need to get to know them before playing.
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19th Century: Blackjack in America
Madame Moustache A.K.A Eleanor Dumont was one of the most prominent black jack dealers in the wild west during the gold rush era. As a skilled blackjack dealer Eleanor would travel the country seducing men to play her, before taking their money. With Blackjack’s popularity in America slowly growing and funded by the immense wealth that the gold rush was bringing into the west New Orleans became the first state to sanction legal and house banked casinos.
Soon after, Madame Moustache would go on to open her own casino named ‘Vingt-et-Un’ on Broad Street in Las Vegas before lack of business at the end of the gold rush scuppered her plans for financial success at the black jack table. Eventually, Miss Dumont would leave Vegas because of amassing debts and would begin to travel the country once more before killing herself when the debts became too much.
Card Counting in Las Vegas
Card Counting is a black jack strategy that was popularised by a famous set of Blackjack players in the 1950s to 1970s. Counting cards involves assigned a value to high and low cards to give you an idea of the probability of each card being dealt and the house edge being reduced.
In the 1970s the most famous card counter was Ken Uston and his big player team who would frequent the Las Vegas casino floors taking the dealer for some extremely large sums. Uston was subsequently banned from many casinos in Nevada but would still manage to get in, with a disguise of course.
Uston would go on to write the book on Blackjack strategy and has been eulogised in casino history for a long time to come.
How did the Casinos fight back against Card Counting?
Las Vegas casinos tried many different methods to combat players counting cards and learning how to beat the game. One of the main methods used to deter card counters is playing with multiple decks to make it more difficult for players to calculate the truest count. Additionally, although card counting isn’t illegal in the United States casino owners and pit bosses condemn card counting in its entirety and have been known to impose banning orders on many card counters. We’ve all seen films like Casino and 21 where card counters are beaten and tortured, but that doesn’t seem to be the reality.
Another side of the coin is that many people attempt to beat the casino using card counting as their main method but fail to realise that it’s an exceptionally difficult skill to learn, requiring huge levels of intelligence and mathematical skill. With people flogging to Vegas every week to practice their card counting, the resulting losses can surely only be a good thing.
As they say, rules are meant to be broken, and maybe the prohibition of counting cards in the Las Vegas casinos is a cunning piece of propaganda to bring people into the casinos.
The Growth of Online Casino
Online and Live Casino has grown significantly over the last 20 years with the emergence of live virtual casinos offering a popular alternative to your physical commercial casino experience. Online casino has also transferred the game of Blackjack as we know it, with a growing culture surrounding casino strategy as well as a handful of online casinos offering 21+3 and side bet variations of the classic card game.
Live Casino is quickly becoming one of the leading methods of play for Blackjack lovers across the world. Playing with a live dealer and both single and multi-deck options, online black jack means you’re free from unknown algorithms and can play a more realistic game compared to other online games.