Blackjack, as it is known today, is an American version of a French card game called twenty-one. Twenty-one was played broadly as modern blackjack is; a dealer competes against one or more players who try to add up the values of random cards to 21 without exceeding the number.
How the original French game was invented is not certain. Most origin stories are dubious at best, but the game in its current form is likely several hundred years old. Some sources even describe it as a popular pastime in the court of the French king Louis XV, also known as the “Sun King”, in the late 17th and early 18th centuries.
Several popular card games in France, Italy, and Spain seem to have the broadly the same game logic as blackjack. It is likely these games share influences, and may even have a common a precursor. Some also speculate that an early version of blackjack was popularized by Roman soldiers almost two millennia ago; this is, however, yet to be confirmed.
The modern game of blackjack is as American as apple pie. The original game of twenty-one was introduced to America by French colonists in the 18th century. By the 19th century, it was already a staple in many casinos, spreading from the old French colonies in the south-east to the rest of the continent.
The 19th century also saw many innovations take place. Rules were amended, and new elements introduced. The game had its own life in America, and gradually became independent from its European counterpart.
When the game was new, casinos employed marketing tactics to stimulate public interest in the game. Among these ploys were “bonus” prizes given to players who won with specific combinations of cards. A popular combination was a hand that contained the ace of spades and the jack of spades or clubs; that is, a black jack. This marketing trick gave the game its current name in America.
In the 1950s and 60s, it was precisely blackjack that inspired researchers and enthusiasts to investigate the strategies and probabilities of gambling. Books such as “Playing Blackjack to Win” and “Beating the Dealer” were published during this period, setting the grounds for an entire genre of study and literature dedicated to card counting and gambling strategy.
Blackjack has continued to evolve even in recent decades. The introduction of video and digital technologies to gambling has revolutionized gaming forever. Blackjack has been adapted to most online casinos due to its popularity among players.
Online casinos can also offer a broader selection of different variations of blackjack in addition to the classic game with standard rules. Online games can also add visual and video game elements that fundamentally change the experience for the player.
Blackjack has become available to all players from different backgrounds and with varied budgets. Advances in video and streaming technology have also made live blackjack games and championships popular.
High-quality video blackjack competitions offer, at this point, an experience almost comparable to live casino gambling. Players can follow events and interact with the dealer in real-time.