The game of blackjack has had a somewhat rollercoaster history. There are
several schools of thought relating to the origins of the game, but popular
consensus dictates that blackjack originated in France in the seventeenth
century as a game called Vingt Et Un (Twenty One) - then quite popular in
The rules may have evolved ever so slightly over the last few centuries, but
at its core the game of blackjack is what we know today. The aim of the game was
to get as close to 21 as possible.
An interesting aspect to the original game is that a Jack and Ace of spades
together bore a bonus payment - thus the origins of the name "blackjack".
With the end of the French Revolution, many parts of French culture found
their way to mainland America. The game of blackjack was quickly adopted into
American society, especially since at the time there were no laws that banned
gambling of any sorts.
However, by the start of the nineteenth century, the US government had banned
all types of gambling - but the game of blackjack had already captured the
imagination of the gambling society. Even though tough penalties were set in
place for anyone who broke the new gambling laws, this just fuelled the intrigue
around the game.
As the gambling laws became stricter, blackjack became more popular until a
breaking point came in the game's history when the State of Nevada legalized
gambling once again in 1931. People flocked from all over the US to play
blackjack - and other casino games - legally for the first time and this gave
rise to Las Vegas, arguably the most famous gambling strip in the world today.
Many critics believed that interest in blackjack would wane due to its
legalization, but the game continued to grow in popularity and even caught the
imagination of the academic world.
The first statistical look at the game came in 1953 by Roger Baldwin and his
team who three years later published their findings in the American Statistical
Guide. These findings were somewhat limiting and not much else was done until
1962 when Prof. Edward Thorp took blackjack play to a new level with his book
entitled Beat The Dealer.
This started a landslide in controversy for the game and casinos alike as
many people flocked to beat the system. This went as far as casinos having to
adapt the rules of blackjack in an attempt to neutralize Thorp's statistical
Since then, many other parties have attempted to unlock the key to blackjack
success, including the infamous MIT squad. There are some systems in place which
allow for blackjack to be more of a strategic game, but at the end of the day
the game remains one of the most controversial and enthralling card games to
have graced our online and land based casinos.