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Blackjack History

Blackjack history encompasses a fascinating story. Blackjack, also known as Pontoon in the UK and Australia, is derived from the French game of Vingt-et-Un, which is French for twenty-one. The first known game of Vingt-et-Un was played in the seventeenth century.

Early Forerunners of Blackjack

Card games were played in one form or another since before 900 A.D. in China. The Chinese would shuffle paper money and deal it into various combinations making card games. The original name for playing cards was "paper tickets." In the Arab countries, these "tickets" were adorned with beautiful intricate patterns, but as they made their way to Europe the patterns were replaced with important figures in society, such as kings, bishops, and cardinals. These eventually gave way to the modern deck of playing cards as we know it today.

The aim of the French game of Vingt-et-Un was to get a natural 21. The cards were dealt in rounds, and betting followed each round. The first person who reached 21 was declared the winner and received all of the other players' bets.

The Italian game of seven-and-a-half and the Spanish game of 31 were also similar to our game of blackjack. Seven-and-a half was played with 40 cards only; the eights, nines, tens were taken out of the deck; and the Face cards were given a value of one-half. The aim was to get seven and a half without busting. In 31, the players were initially dealt three cards, and the goal was to reach a total of 31.

Modern Blackjack Appears

The modern version of blackjack made its way to the United States as early as 1800. It was given the name of Blackjack from the bonus payout that was given if a player received the Jack of Spades and the Ace of Spades as his first two cards. This originally paid out odds of 10-to-1. Despite the fact that the game changed to allow any ten or face card together with an ace to make the winning Blackjack, and the payout was lowered to only 3-to-2, the name of Blackjack stuck.

Over time, different variations of the game of blackjack evolved. Atlantic City Blackjack, European Blackjack, and Vegas Strip Blackjack are some of the variations that are still popular blackjack games today.

Blackjack Card Counting and Blackjack Basic Strategy

The modern era of blackjack started in the early 1960s, with the publication of "Beat the Dealer" by Professor Edward Thorp. Professor Thorp inaugurated the scientific study of blackjack, blackjack card-counting techniques, and the blackjack basic strategy.

Blackjack card counting is based on the fact that as cards are removed from the deck, the probabilities pertaining to the remaining cards will change. For example, if the early hands of a blackjack game use up a lot of low cards and only a few 10-value cards, the odds of drawing a 10-value card on the next hand will increase. By keeping track of the cards that have been dealt, the blackjack card-counter can use this information to his advantage and adjust his bets accordingly.

Blackjack basic strategy is also based on the mathematical study of blackjack. The blackjack basic strategy is expressed in a series of charts that show, based on the analysis of the probabilities, what is the optimal move in every situation in a game of blackjack. Unlike card counting, which is a very difficult skill to master, the blackjack basic strategy table can be used by anybody who wants to play blackjack more successfully.

In the decades since the publication of "Beat the Dealer," other mathematicians, computer scientists, and professional gamblers have continued to refine both the card-counting techniques and the basic blackjack strategy tables, so that today they are more sophisticated, powerful, and accurate than ever before. The greatest of these individuals are now honored in the Blackjack Hall of Fame.

Online Blackjack

With the expansion of the Internet and the development of online casinos in the early 1990s, blackjack was a natural contender for the consumers' computer screens. Blackjack was an easy game to adapt to the computer screen and became one of the most popular online casino games. A modern online casino can have more than forty different blackjack games. Each online blackjack game features realistic graphics and sound effects, as well as a Random Number Generator to deal the cards with complete fairness. Today, millions of people around the world enjoy playing blackjack online.

The history of blackjack, from 9th-century Chinese tickets through 17th-century Vingt-et-Un to the 21st-century online blackjack, is a long and interesting story. The game of blackjack continues to grow and flourish, and it is clear that the saga is far from finished.

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