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The History of Blackjack

The history of blackjack is unclear, however the generally accepted thought is that it evolved out of other French games such as “chemin de fer” and “French Ferme”. Blackjack originated in French casinos around the 1700's where it was called “vingt-et-un” (twenty-and-one) and has been in United States since the 1800's.

The name blackjack came from an early bet (since discontinued) that paid 10 to 1 if the player got a jack of spades and an ace of spades, both black cards, as the first two cards.

In the late 1950's and the 1960's mathematical information was published that showed sophisticated gamblers how they could play nearly even with the house and perhaps gain a slight edge. One of these books became so popular that it made the New York Times bestseller list. This information sparked the interest of the public and made it the number one table game in the U.S. in the 1960's as it has remained right into the new millennium. The casinos made a bundle from the games newly gained popularity and all of the media attention it generated.

The casinos, however, were not happy with the success of a book that told the public how to beat the house. They tried to change the rules of blackjack to make it more difficult to win. This didn't last long as people protested by not playing the new rules version of blackjack, and the resulting loss of revenue quickly forced the casinos to revert back to the old rules.

The Casinos, however, did make changes to increase their odds. They introduced multiple decks, shuffling machines, and frequent and early shuffling among other changes. These changes plus the reality that the methods described in the books were difficult to master (if indeed you could understand them) and restored the casinos edge to odds they considered acceptable.

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Interested in how other casino games came to be? Try these sites:
Baccarat History - Craps History - Roulette History - Slot Machine History - Video Poker History
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