A Brief History of Blackjack


It is almost certain that playing cards began in China after the invention of paper. Ancient Chinese “Money Cards” have four “suits” like the modern cards of today. It has also been suggested that an early form of playing cards originated in India and throughout the Middle East.

From there playing cards made their arrival into Europe and developed into the 52 card deck we know today. These cards were known as the “French Pack” after their country of origin and were soon adopted by the rest of Europe, America and ultimately worldwide.

Today it is commonly agreed that the first roots of Blackjack appeared during the 17th century in France, where a game called “Vingt En Un” was played in French casinos. The name “Vingt-en-Un” means “21” in French and although the rules of the game are clearly different to modern Blackjack many similarities do exist.

The end of the French Revolution brought the game to North America where it gained popularity due, in the most part, to a lack of laws prohibiting card games. This changed at the beginning of the 19th century as the US passed laws making organized gambling activities illegal. By now the games name had changed to “Pontoon” or “21” and like most failed prohibition attempts America’s hard line on gambling only made the game more popular.

By 1931 the state of Nevada decided to legalize gambling and Las Vegas was born along with our modern version of Blackjack (named after the Ace of Spades and Jack of Spades combination). Blackjack’s popularity sky rocketed and soon scientists began to explore ways of mastering the game and reducing the houses edge. The fruit of their research was “Basic Blackjack Strategy”.

Basic Strategy was closely followed by “Card Counting” – a process whereby a player counts the cards coming out a of a deck to determine how many tens and aces remain (favourable for the player). Card Counting was so popular and successful that the very rules of Blackjack were altered and security within the casinos was improved up to catch would be card counters.

Today Blackjack is one of the most popular casino card games in the world. Much of blackjack’s popularity is due to the mix of chance with elements of skill, and the publicity that surrounds card counting and beating the house….

…but don’t take out word for it. Pay a visit to our Free Blackjack Trainer or try your hand at our great selection of online casino review and discover the excitement and fun that is the game of Blackjack.