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The History Of Blackjack

Aug 21, 2008
Like most card games, Blackjack has a long and varied history. Unfortunately, the full history has not been discovered, even to this day. It is commonly believed that the early beginnings of blackjack originated in France during the 17th century. It was then known as Vingt en Un, which means "21." The goal of the Vingt en Un player was to get a "natural," or a hand of 21. While the goal of a hand of "21" was the same as the goal in blackjack, other parts of the game were quite different.

Blackjack was brought to the United States in the early 1800s. Initially, the game was not very popular. To get more players, gambling houses tried bonus payouts that were given to the player if he got the Jack of Spades and the Ace of Spades as his first two cards. This resulted in the game being called "blackjack." There were no laws at the time prohibiting card games, so blackjack soon became very popular.

Professional gamblers noticed right away the great potential of the game, and soon they developed a basic strategy for improving their odds of winning.

Early in the 19th century, blackjack went underground as the U.S. government decided that gambling corrupted society and led to organized crime, so it banned and outlawed gambling activities. However, instead of interest in the game decreasing, it increased and the game became even more popular. In 1931, Nevada decided to legalize gambling, and Las Vegas was born.

As blackjack interest increased, the fields of science and math began to investigate. While Roger Baldwin was the first person to study blackjack and come up with strategies to win the game, the person who is considered to have written the first card-counting system is Edward O. Thorp. He used new machines and calculating systems and in 1962 published a book entitled "Beat the Dealer" in which the first actual blackjack card counting system was written. It became a huge success and took first place on the New York Times bestseller list.

Casinos were terrified. They quickly devised plans to minimize the damage and soon after modified the blackjack rules. Because Thorpe's book was too hard to understand, all it really did was increase the popularity of the game. After realizing that Thorpe's book was not a threat to them, casinos went back to the use of traditional blackjack.

Unfortunately, the threat returned in the mid 1970s in a man named Ken Uston. He and his colleagues inserted computers in their shoes and used them to count cards, winning thousands of dollars every month playing blackjack in Nevada. The threat returned again in the 1990s, when a group known as The MIT Blackjack Team made millions of dollars using card-counting techniques.

While no one really knows the complete history of the game of blackjack, it has become one of the most popular casino card games in American history. While it has had a past full of ups and downs, it still remains one of the most played casino card games. Its newest evolution has moved it into the online genre, where today it is played by millions of people all over the world.
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