When visiting a casino, it is more than likely that you will try your hand at blackjack. It is one of the most popular games in casinos and it’ll be rare to see an empty blackjack table. Blackjack is not only popular in brick-and-mortar casinos but also at online casinos, where players can play games at a faster pace and from the comfort of their own homes.
But where and when did blackjack begin? Here, we’ll take a look at the origins of the casino game and some of the most famous players.
The early beginnings
Finding the definitive start of the game of blackjack is impossible, but there is a common consensus that its origins lay in France in the early 1700s, while the Spanish and the Romans have also been credited with inventing the game. Popular French card games Chemin de Fer and French Femme are believe to be the derivation of blackjack, or Vingt-et-Un as it was known back then.
As the game became more and more popular across the country, it found its way to French casinos and French colonists took it over to North America with them. During this time, it was also spreading across Europe.
The 20th century
When Nevada became the first state to legalise gambling in 1931, it was a popular game, but casinos needed to draw more people to their premises in order to play it. They encouraged people to play at their casinos by offering them a unique bet; if they received a hand of either the jack of clubs or the jack of spades, along with the ace of spades, then they would pay out at odds of 10/1. It is from this special bet, that was eventually discontinued, where the name “blackjack” came from.
As the rules have been adapted and changed, the popularity has increased. While the origins may lie in France, the game we play in casinos today, whether it be brick-and-mortar or at online casinos, have been down to a number of different people who have helped to mould it.
The best players
As with any casino game, there are many players who have won big and become famous in the process. One such player is Don Johnson, who managed to win $15 million from three casinos in around six months.
He won $6 million at the Tropicana, $5 million at the Borgata and $4 million at Caesar’s. Although what he managed was impressive, he did have some conditions which helped favour him, such as keeping 20% of any losses; so if he lost $500k, he’d only have to pay the casino $400k. These three big wins in quick succession saw him banned from many casinos, but when you have that kind of money, who cares?
Edward Thorp is another famous blackjack player and he not only looked into how card counting can help shift the advantage to the player, but also created the first wearable computer to help him win at the blackjack tables. While card counting is not illegal, computers were made illegal in helping players gain an advantage in blackjack.