the history of blackjack

Published 14/09/2020

Blackjack (21) is a cool and sophisticated game enjoyed by many across the world. From as early as the 16th century, the game has evolved and adapted to become one of the most popular casino card games played to this day; with it being featured in every UK casino. This is one game that is not likely to go out of fashion anytime soon!

The Origins

The origin of Blackjack is still debated; the most popular belief is that it originated in French casinos around 1700 due to its mention in Cervantes’s novel Don Quixote, which dates to the late 16th/early 17th century. Then, the game was referred to as ‘Vingt-et-un’ which translates to 21 in French. Another belief is that the Romans played this game or something similar using wooden blocks.

During its popularisation in the 18th century, casinos and other gambling houses started to offer ‘special bets’ to draw more people to the game. A notable special bet is the 10:1 odds of a player having a Black Jack (the Jack of spades or clubs) with an Ace. This is where the name we know today originated. Although, as casinos gradually removed this special bet, the name Blackjack remained.

Growth in Popularity

Vingt-et-Un (21) was enjoyed by the royal courts and elites of France including King Louis XV’s mistress and Napoleon Bonaparte, the famed military leader and emperor of France. Napoleon Bonaparte was a huge fan of Vingt-et-Un (21) and would regularly play the game as a means of relaxing and celebrating after a battle; although rumoured history suggests he prohibited card games among his soldiers as he believed they would distract them.

The popularity of the game moved to North America due to the French colonists in the late 17th/early 18th century with the first legalised banked game taking place in New Orleans. In 1931, when Nevada was granted a state legalisation of gambling, the game grew to become the casino staple we know today.

Due to the European colonisation period, the game was introduced across the world and now features in more than 140 counties; making it one of the most renowned casino games of today.

#FunFact: Hall of Fame

Based in the Barona Resort and Casino, San Diego, California; there is an actual Blackjack Hall of Fame. The wall honours the greatest game experts, players and authors of Blackjack! There is an agreement with the casino and featured inductees that they can visit and enjoy lifelong hospitality benefits on one condition… they do not play any of the casino tables.

Rainbow Casino is an over-18’s venue and promotes responsible gambling. For more information or support regarding responsible gambling visit GamCare