Like many other casino games, the origin of Blackjack has eluded researchers for a long time. There is no clear consensus till date, but many researchers agree that Blackjack probably originated in the French casinos around 1700. The French cards were called Vingt-et-un, which means twenty-one. These cards were probably derived from card games Chemin de Fer and French Ferme, which were quite popular at that time.
Another theory that’s also doing the rounds is that Blackjack was invented by the Romans. It’s believed that Romans played this game with wooden blocks that had different numerical values. This theory holds some weight as gambling was a popular recreational activity in Rome, but it doesn’t confirm the theory.
The origins of the game in the 18th century
The card games Quinze, Sette e Mezzo, and Trente-un attributed values to each of the playing cards, and the objective was to reach close to a certain value, without going bust. Just like the modern version of Blackjack, some of these games had a flexible value for the ace. Since these games are much older than Vingt-et-un, it’s very likely they influenced the French game of 21 that was so popular in the 18th century.
Vingt-et-un was brought to America by French colonists in the 18th century. There were several differences between the rules of the game at the time and the modern version. In some cases, the dealer’s second card was visible to players from the start. It was also a common practice for the dealer to make his own decisions. However, with time, dealers began to follow the mandatory Blackjack rules, where they would need to have up to 16 points and maintain on 17 points or more.
The great era of the casinos
The 20th century was a great era for online gambling. The precursor of Blackjack was still called 21 in Nevada. Eventually, the card game 21 was named Blackjack. The rules of the game also changed with the legalization of gambling.
The first Blackjack card counters appeared around the year of 1950. In 1957, Cantey, Baldwin, Maisel, McDermott wrote a book called “Playing Blackjack to Win”. The book included basic strategies to keep track of the cards. It didn’t get the attention it needed so by the year of 1962; Edward O. Thorp wrote the book “Beat the Dealer”.
The book was a huge success and is considered to be the birth of card counting even today. The author devised a ten-count system which would start with two numbers, 16 and 36, which related to the 10’s in the deck, and all other cards respectively. After the game started, the player would count down backwards and divide the remaining card numbers with the remaining of 10’s. This system worked when Blackjack was played with a single deck. Today, the game is played with numerous decks, which makes the system very complex to use.
Taking Blackjack online
Despite all the measure employed by casinos in an attempt to thwart card counters, Blackjack continued to be one of the most popular card games among gamblers around the world. With the boom of the internet, the next big development in the history of Blackjack took place. The first online gambling sites offered the classic standard variant of this game. But soon after, there were a wide variety of Blackjack games that could be played online, with different rules, and some exciting and innovative features.
With the arrival of online casinos, players could play their favourite Blackjack games anytime, day or night. However, despite the convenience of playing from home, many players missed the ambience of gambling in a land-based gambling venue.
This demand was catered for with the introduction of Live Blackjack, which featured real dealers. However, the first live casinos were far from perfect. Games were streamed from a real, land-based casino setting. As such, the quality of video streaming was poor, and interaction with the dealer was also not possible. Overall, this didn’t meet the requirement of players and led to a dull gaming experience.
The breakthrough in live gaming came in 2006, with new studios that were used exclusively to offer Live Blackjack games. This new approach provided various distinct advantages for players. The quality of the video streaming improved dramatically. Plus, the numerous cameras provided multiple views of the game, with no obstruction from other players. Also, players were finally able to interact with the dealer, as if they were gambling in a land-based gambling venue. Players could see the shuffling of cards, and the advent of bet behind option allowed an unlimited number of players to take part in the same game.