Most people who play blackjack these days probably simply reach for their cell and play mobile blackjack, or fire up the laptop or desktop and play online. With progressive blackjack, live dealer games and lots of different variants, there has never been more choice when it comes to playing this beloved casino game. However, it wasn’t always so. The origins of blackjack, as with many casino games and gambling terms, aren’t 100% clear but let’s take a look at how it all (probably) began as we delve into the history of blackjack.
Whilst much is unverifiable and open to debate, the earliest undeniable fact is that the legendary Spanish author Miguel de Cervantes, who wrote the masterpiece Don Quixote, mentioned a game remarkably similar to blackjack way back at the start of the 17th century. Cervantes, himself a gambler, wrote of a game “ventiuna” (Spanish for 21) in which the player tries to get as close to 21 as possible without going over. Moreover, aces counted as both one and 11.
Some historians argue that blackjack dates back even further, some claiming that Roman soldiers played a similar game using wooden blocks but we prefer to deal in facts and it cannot be denied that ventiuna, unquestionably a blackjack relative, was around in the early 17th and probably late 16th centuries.
Little is known about the game’s subsequent evolution, other than that it was popular throughout Europe but especially in France and Italy, as well as Spain. Immigrants brought blackjack over the Atlantic in the 1800s, or perhaps a little earlier after the French Revolution in 1789.
In the US, casino owners created a bonus payout of 10/1 for a 21, or “natural”, made with a jack and the ace of spades. This huge payout was very popular but was unsustainable and so gradually shifted to a reduced payout but for any two-card natural, although the name blackjack proved rather more durable.
The game changed little until modern blackjack was truly born with the passing of the Nevada Gambling Act in 1931. Rules became fixed and codified and the version on blackjack played all those years ago is essentially the same great game we all know and love today.
Blackjack has been around hundreds of years and we predict it will be around hundreds more so why not grab a great casino bonus now and see if your blackjack luck is in by playing real money online blackjack today? Get started at the best USA online casinos and place your blackjack bets!