Blackjack originates in a number of games played in Europe in the 17th century, all of which sharing the common objective of reaching a total of 21.
The first references to this game trace back to 1601 when, Miguel de Cervantes, a Spanish writer, talked in one of his stories about two men who specialized in cheating at a game named “Ventiuna”, the Spanish equivalent for 21. The French version was Vingt et Un, which is the French for 21.
After the French revolution Blackjack was introduced in the Unitated States. In the beginning, the game was not so popular in the gambling houses. This determined the owners to offer large bonuses to attract players. A common bonus was a payout of 10 to 1 for the hand consisting of a blackjack and an ace of spades. The hand was called “blackjack” which gave the name to the game. Although this payout was withdrawn later, the game continued to be called blackjack. After a while, blackjack became illegal and as a consequence it was played in secret until 1931 when gambling was legalised in Las Vegas.
Even though blackjack may seem just a game of luck, it is actually a game of skill and not many players can figure out the best moves. In 1953, the first manual describing blackjack strategies was published and determined the reduction of the house edge. In the early 1960’s that blackjack theory was considerably improved by the contribution of Edward Thorp who discovered that counting the discarded cards is the optimum strategy to bring an average return of over 100%. His book entitled Beat the Dealer was a bestseller. Initially, the casinos were apprehensive of this discovery but they quickly realized that only a small number of players could in fact count cards so they should not worry about a reduction in profits.
Blackjack had an interesting evolution along its century-long life since it became what it is now. In the mid 1990s, it entered the Internet along with many other online games that players can easily have access to from the privacy of their homes. The story of blackjack still writes itself as new variants of this game continue to appear online, to the satisfaction of thousands of players.