How Blackjack Became Popular
Blackjack is a popular gambling game played in almost all parts of the world. But who started it? There are contrasting claims between the Italians and the French, but little is known about its very origin.
Shuffling paper money into different combinations is the earliest known form of card game. This has been known to be played in 900 A.D. China where they called it the game of “paper tickets” and now popularly known as playing cards.
The earliest designs of playing cards were influenced by the elaborate designs of the Islam culture. Later on, these cards were brought to Spain and Italy where the Royalties (Kings and Queens) replaced the patterns. Presently, we use the “deck” composed of 52 cards or what is called the “French Pack.”
The French Pack appeared in the 1600’s but the popular game, Blackjack, did not appear until 1700 A.D. A hundred years after. So what were they playing then before Blackjack?
There are these French card games called “chemin de fer” (sh -m d fâr ), which literally means “way of iron”, and “French Ferme”, which means “French abode”. These two are said to be where Blackjack was adopted from. Blackjack or the French call it “vingt-et-un” has the literal meaning of “twenty-and-one” is said to originate from France and was introduced the United States during the 1800’s.
Although vingt-et-un or 21 has similarities with Blackjack, there are still quite a number of rules where they don’t agree. Like for example, in Blackjack, the betting is done only once at the start of the game while in vingt-et-un, betting is done on every round. The value system of the cards for the two card games differ also. In vingt-et-un, the cards have their “natural” or real values while in Blackjack, the Royalties share the value of 10 and the ace could either be 11 or 1.
“Seven and a Half” is another card game said to have led to the now popular Blackjack. Here, only the face cards or the Royalties together with the 8’s, 9’s, and 10’s are used with the King of Diamonds as a wild card. The face cards are counted as “half”. The total points desired here is “seven and a half”. The “bust” rule of Blackjack came from this game.
There is a Spanish game called, “One and Thirty” with rules similar to Blackjack but the aim is to get a total points of 31 instead of 21, and the game is played with 3 cards rather than 2.
The name “Blackjack” is coined because originally, a player will get a bonus for an Ace of Spades together with a Jack of Spades as his first two cards in the draw. Nowadays, the payout for a Blackjack is 3 to 2 but in those times, they pay 10 to 1!
Some People Who Mastered the Logic of Blackjack
There are those people who did not enjoy playing the card game itself but also loved the logic behind this popular card gamble. Edward O. Thorp presented a paper entitled, “Fortune’s Formula”, which is about a card counting technique that can be used for Blackjack.
Together with a New York businessman in the name of Emmanuel Kimmel, Thorp flew to Reno, Nevada and applied the card counting technique he formulated. They were successful in doubling their money in that trip they made.
Another mathematics genius named Ken Uston used the card counting technique to win thousands of dollars in Las Vegas casinos. Together with an electronic engineer, Keith Taft, the two developed a device that can help them in counting the probabilities in the game.
Now people are trying to master the art of card counting to make bucks from these casinos. Some features of Blackjack, which makes it unique is also the way to make it probable to beat.