Blackjack Origins

It’s unsure when or where Blackjack originated but the Romans, the French and the Spanish have been long associated with the game with various translations of the words ‘Twenty One’ thrown around. 

Blackjack or Twenty One, as it can also be known, is one of the most popular casino games, traditional land based games, slot machines and also online. It has been played for hundreds of years and is what is known as a casino banked game, in other words the players don’t compete against each other but compete against the dealer, in essence the casino. 


The objective of the game is to get a hand worth 21 before the dealer does and to not go over 21 otherwise the player is then bust and the other players automatically win. 

When Blackjack casino or Twenty One was introduced in North America it was originally thought to be a little dull and with small payouts. Eventually casinos across Nevada had to offer players an incentive in order to play. The incentive was a special bet offering a ten to one pay out for any player achieving a twenty one point hand made up of a black Jack card, in other words either the Jack of Spades or the Jack of Clubs plus the Ace of Spades. Whereas this special bet of ten to one doesn’t happen now the name Blackjack has stuck to this day. 

Blackjack has the smallest house edge across all the other casino games. Players using the optimal strategy can reduce the house edge to as little as 1%. The strategy adopted, card counting as it was termed, was devised by Edward O Thorp who was a mathematician.  He devised a ten count system which started with two numbers in his head and related to the ten’s in the deck hence the name. Thorp would count down backwards and divide the number of remaining other cards by the remaining ‘ten’s in order to calculate when the player had the advantage and could potentially win big. This worked perfectly until the casinos started to fight back in order to eradicate the house edge and therefore the casinos profits. The ‘Thorp Ratio’ as the calculation strategy was named worked when the game was played with a single deck of cards, now, however, the game is played with several decks of cards which makes the strategy more difficult to calculate. 

Today there are numerous different types of blackjack games with different methods of potentially scoring big wins. Card counting does still exist within traditional land based casinos but the profits are now quite minimal in relation to the capital and the casinos, their floor managers and dealers are now highly trained to spot any potential card counting activity. This method takes a lot of skill and stamina to keep going due to the changes in the number of decks used to play. A number of systems were introduced to cut down on this and to ensure that the casinos maintained its house edge.

About Mohit Tater

Mohit is the co-founder and editor of Entrepreneurship Life, a place where entrepreneurs, start-ups, and business owners can find wide ranging information, advice, resources, and tools for starting, running, and growing their businesses.

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