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The history of Blackjack

In the world of online and offline casinos, Blackjack is one of the most played and most enjoyed games. It is sometimes called Twenty-one, and its popularity comes from its simplicity. In the following paragraphs, we will introduce you to the history of this addictive card game.

The origins of Blackjack

Experts still don’t know the exact origins of Blackjack. Nevertheless, it seems to have been inspired by French games, Chemin de Fer and French Ferme. It was played in French casinos in the 1700’s under the name Twenty-one. After the French Revolution, it made its way to the United States in immigrants’ luggage. In this new country, it did not meet with immediate success. This lasted up until a gambling establishment invented a variation that popularized the game. In this variation, if the first two cards a player receives are a Jack of spades and an Ace of spades, the player wins an additional sum of money. Since this means the player is holding a Jack and the spade is black, the game was called Blackjack. The name stuck even though this variation is no longer played.

The development of basic strategy

With the growing success of Blackjack, enthusiasts attempted to develop sure methods for pocketing the prize money and always being the beneficiary, instead of the house. In 1953, an American by the name of Roger Baldwin developed a scientific technique that used mathematics and probabilities. His method was introduced in an article that is still famous today, “The Optimum Strategy in Blackjack,” which appeared in the much respected Journal of the American Statistical Association. This text is at the origin of what is today known as Basic Strategy.

The creation and refinement of card counting

In 1962, another American, Edward O. Thorp, developed an even more effective method. This method allows the player to count the cards. He presented his technique in a book that is still referred to today, Beat the Dealer. Recently, Hollywood paid homage to this system with the film Las Vegas 21 with Kevin Spacey, which tells the true story of the famous MIT Blackjack team that made its fortune thanks to card counting.

The response from casinos

To counter the proliferation of gambling techniques (some more effective than others) casinos introduced new techniques of their own. For example, casinos may use devices for shuffling the shoe and the discard tray, or use multiple decks of cards in a Blackjack game. In this way, gambling establishments hoped to retain a house advantage high enough to continue to turn a profit.