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The History of BlackJack

Of all of the casino games, blackjack is one of the most popular and there are a number of reasons for this. Firstly, the rules are very simple Ė to sole objective is to get as near to scoring 21 as possible, secondly itís quick and easy to play. Plus, with the rise and rise of online casinos itís a game that you can play anywhere at any time, all you need is an internet connection and a device to play it on. And, while it may not have the big-money reputation of poker, if you know all about the game and blackjack strategies, it can prove to be a winner.

So where did the game come from Ė and how come itís reached todayís huge level of popularity?

While thereís no firm evidence, itís likely that the ancient Romans may have played a form of blackjack using wooden blocks to represent cards - they were a people who enjoyed gambling which was most often played with dice.

The first ever recorded incidence of a game that was recognisably like the blackjack of today was in Spain in the early 17th century. The writer Miguel de Cervantes wrote a story sometime between 1590 and 1612 about two confidence tricksters living in Seville who were experts at cheating at a game called ventiuna Ė Spanish for twenty-one. But it wasnít until the early 18th century that the game that was to be blackjack became popular in French casinos. Derived from the games of chemin de fer and French ferme it was known as vingt et un.

Up until the French Revolution of 1789 it was mainly played in mainland Europe but as many fled the country to safer parts of the world they took the game with them, including to America where it soon gained in popularity.

The legalisation of gaming in Nevada in 1931 proved to be the true watershed and the point at which the game we play today was first introduced. It was immediately popular in the very first casinos and, to capitalise on its success, a number introduced a special bonus rule for players. This stated that anyone whose hand contained one of the black jacks as well as the ace of spades would win at odds of 10 to 1. Although this rule has since gone by the wayside the name has stuck to this day.

To further encourage gamblers the casinos also introduced two rules to tip the odds slightly more in the playerís favour. The first was that the dealer had to show their first card and the second was that they must stick on 16 or 17 and this put the player far more in control.

The players themselves started to develop their own ways to get an advantage, including the adoption of the basic strategy that had been developed by the mathematician Edward Thorp and published in his ground-breaking book Beat The Dealer.

Use of this strategy, as well as the rise of card counting, has led casinos today to take certain steps to try to thwart players such as using more and more decks of cards, as well as shuffling them more often.

However, as any keen player knows, it still offers plenty of opportunities to come out on top, despite the casinosí best efforts Ė and thatís why itís as popular today as itís always been.


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