History of Blackjack - Main Facts

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History does not repeat itself. The historians repeat one another. -
Max Beerbohm

This phrase can be easy quoted when speaking about the blackjack history.Nobody knows the exact origins of this game but everyone repeats each other when telling some facts described before. So, what is the problem with the date and place of blackjack’s birth?

Confusions about blackjack’s birth

France or Italy?

There are actually two theories in blackjack history exist as for its appearance. Some researches believe blackjack to be originated from France in 1700’s where it was first called Vingt-Et-Un (Twenty-One) and was very popular in casinos of that time.

Another country which claims to be called a motherland of blackjack is Italy. There was a game Thirty-One in the 14th century and it was believed to be an ancestor of modern blackjack.

However, there was also one more popular Italian card game Seven-And-a-Half in the 17th century and it had some blackjack features.

What do we have?

  • Vingh-Et-Un (France, the 18th century)
  • Thirty-One (Italy, the 14th century)
  • Seven-And-a-Half (Italy, the 17th century)

All these card games described above can be easily believed to be blackjack’s ancestors though more researches insist on France as the land of blackjack’s birth. Anyway, some facts can be found against of Vingt-Et-Un as the origin of blackjack, and also some other games can be described as modern blackjack’s predecessors. But the fact is that blackjack has come to America with the French, and the majority of researches believe the French Vingt-Et-Un to be the origin of blackjack.

The casino games were not so different a century ago than most winner online gambling games you can find today.

Blackjack in America

Blackjack has come to the USA after the French Revolution of 1789. America did not have any strict or particular laws against of gambling, and this fact made it much easier for casinos to change the rules of playing blackjack in order to get more money from players; in their turn, players began to develop some strategies and tips for easier winning. This process was not regulated by authorities and this fact made blackjack to become more and more popular and it developed very fast.


The 19th century brought blackjack first troubles. The US government woke up and saw how gambling developed crime and corruption, so card games were prohibited to play. All this time gambling continued to develop illegally at secret clubs. The beginning of the 20th century is called to be the Prohibition Era when all casinos were marked as illegal and criminal places.

All this time blackjack had a name of Twenty-One and got its modern name at the time of World War I because of Jack of Spades. This card together with an Ace of Spades made you a momentary winner if you had both of them at once after cards were dealt.

Blackjack rebirth

The era of modern blackjack had been started in 1931 when Nevada legalized gambling again.

The second part of the 20th century has become a real triumph of blackjack thanks to some people whose names are well-known now in the world of casinos. They developed blackjack basic strategy, card counting systems, different tips for blackjack players and were real dealers’ nightmare because they helped people to become blackjack professionals and be good in beating great amount of money out of casinos.

Historical personalities of blackjack

Roger Baldwin – the father and inventor of card counting. He wrote the article The Optimum Strategy in Blackjack in 1956 which made him popular, and his bookPlaying Blackjack to Winwas published in 1957 (republished in 2008).

Edward O. Thorp – the first one who proved everyone the possibility of winning at blackjack. Earlier it was considered to be impossible to beat a casino, but in 1962 the book of Edward ThorpBeat the Dealer was published and it became a national American bestseller.

Ken Uston – a person who wroteThe Big Player and considered to be the first one who won the case against Atlantic City casinos as for the right of using card counting during a game.

MIT Blackjack Team – the group of ex-students of Massachusetts Institute of Technology who beat many Las Vegas casinos at the last decade of the 20th century by using card counting system.


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