The Origin of Blackjack

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When Blackjack was first played

blackjack historyGambling historians are confused with the history & origin of Black Jack, as the game we know today. Even today, its history is a hot topic of debate for many researchers. From the history of card games, it can be established that playing cards were initially used in China, India & Egypt as early as 900 AD. The first card games are said to have started in China.

But it is yet said that it was the French who really invented the game, Black Jack. The French had card games known as ‘chemin de fer’ along with another card game called ‘French Ferme’. It is believed that Blackjack is really an offshoot of these two French games.

Somewhere in the year 1700 AD, a game known as ‘vingt-et-un’, which basically means twenty and one, was introduced in the French Casinos of that time. In the 1800s the same game migrated to the United States.

Though ‘vingt-et-un’s looks to be quite similar to Blackjack, it is yet different in some aspects. In this game, the goal is to reach a ‘Natural’ with cards whose total is twenty-one. In addition, the cards were dealt in rounds post that bets were placed for each round. Also, it was only the dealer who had the authority to ‘double’ & in case he got a Natural, then all the other players would be obliged to pay him or her triple.

Another argument by the respective researchers is that the Italian game known as ‘Seven and a half, could have also contributed to the current BlackJack. The game seven and a half was only played with cards 8’s, 9’s, and 10’s along with face cards. While the face cards were counted as ‘half’. In addition, the King of Diamonds was treated like the wild card. It is believed that this was the first game, where the concept of ‘bust’ was introduced. This means, that if the total of the cards was over seven and a half for any player, he or she went bust or out of the game.

‘One and thirty’ the famous Spanish game too was similar to Black Jack. But in this, the total was thirty-one instead of twenty-one along with the fact that it was played with three cards instead of two as in Black Jack.

Initially, when Blackjack entered the casinos of America somewhere in 1910 it was not very popular. Gambling houses introduced various incentives and bonuses to lure people to the game. The bonus payout that was originally given by the gambling house was ten to one. Some gambling houses to add the lure towards the new game recognized both cards of Jack of Clubs as well as Jack of Spades for the payout of ten to one.

Another peculiar thing is, how the name Blackjack is tagged in this game. It is said that the game was called Blackjack because to receive the bonus payout, the player had to have either Jack of Spades or Ace of Spades as his or her first two cards.

Though now Jack is no longer required to make a winning hand and any ten-value card with an Ace will qualify as a winning hand, the name Black Jack carries one.