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Blackjack History

Practically every game at the casino was derived from a variety of several precursors, yet the origins of Blackjack can be traced all the way back to the invention of playing cards.

The idea for the creation of playing cards was first triggered by the ancient Chinese practice of shuffling money and paper money.

At around 900 AD, the Mameluke Empire introduced the newly developed playing cards around Europe and some Mediterranean countries.

Since they were a Muslim empire, the cards contained human figures featuring intricate Islamic decorations similar to those seen on Turkish carpets, such that when they arrived in Spain and Italy, they were discerned as the ranks of high court officials and noblemen.

In the 1500’s the French replaced one of the figures with their queen, which generated the development of the “French pack” – the prototype for today’s standard 52 card deck.

Following the printing of the first official deck of cards in 1440, card-games began to develop rapidly. It is believed that Blackjack was derived from some of the very first games invented during that period.

The game that most resembles its form today is “Ving-et-un”, a popular French card-game of the 1700’s that followed all the basic rules and objective of 21. The most obvious differences between the game then and today’s Blackjack is that players would bet on their hand after it had already been dealt, and that only the dealer could double up.

Ving-et-un was even one of the favorite forms of recreation of Napoleon himself!

One other popular card-game thought to have provided a basis for today’s traditional Blackjack is “Seven and a Half”. An Italian game, Seven and a Half’s objective was to reach a value of 7.5 exactly by using the cards valued at 7 and over, excluding the tens.

All face cards were worth half a point, and all other cards were worth 1 point. If a player was dealt more than 7.5 points worth, he/she would “bust” – which is a well-known Blackjack term.

French colonists to have populated North America in the early 1800’s were those who introduced the precursors of Blackjack to American gambling audiences, who later developed them into what we know today as traditional Blackjack.

The game was initially not very successful, and it wasn’t until the middle of the 20th century that players were given an incentive to play it; local gambling halls would offer a special prize to all players who could be dealt a Jack and Ace of Spades, which they called “Blackjack”, and this is where the name was derived from.

This bonus gave great acceleration to the growth in popularity of Blackjack around America, yet it wasn’t until the late 1950’s that Blackjack truly exploded. It was around this time that the first ever Blackjack strategy was released and its casino potential realized.

Approximately 35 years later when online gambling was introduced internationally, online blackjack became an industry that simply exploded, and the rest is history!

May 2, 2012 - Offer valid as of date published. T&Cs apply.