A brief history of Blackjack

Blackjack is an incredible game with a long and interesting history. Starting out as an unknown game in an unknown country, Blackjack has risen through the ranks to become the world's single most popular casino game. As with most games which have stood the test of time, Blackjack has changed and evolved over the years. If you want to know more about the history this fascinating game of Faces and Aces, check out our Blackjack timeline below.

Blackjack as we know it is generally believed to have originated in France, even though the first recorded mention of the game appeared in a Spanish novella by Miguel de Cervantes. The story, Rinconete y Cortadillo tells the story of gamblers in Seville, a major trade hub between Spain and America. In the story, the gamblers cheat at a game called Veintiuna, the Spanish for 21. However unlike modern Blackjack, Veintiuna used a Spanish Baraja deck instead of a standard 52 card deck. On top of this, and the aim of the game was simply to get to 21, not specifically to beat the dealer as you would with modern Blackjack.

Vingt-et-un, as the game was known in French, was a major hit at casinos in Europe in the 1700's, with sailors and traders taking the game with them wherever they went. Napoleon Bonaparte was a notorious fan of the game, using it to whittle away time during his exile in 1814. The game spread across the world thanks in no small part to the French navy, with French colonists bringing the game to the Americas in the early 1900's. Once Blackjack hit the US, the game rocketed in popularity, growing steadily over the 20th century to the levels of fame and glory it now enjoys.

The state of Nevada legalised gambling in 1931, and in a bid to draw gamblers into their casinos, Blackjack took on a new form. If you could draw either of the black Jacks along with the Ace of Spades, you would win an enormous 10:1 on your bet. While this rule no longer exists – you can now use any Face and any Ace for a 3:2 return in most casinos – the name stuck. The boost in popularity that came with this new form of Blackjack also endured, with a team of statisticians taking to Blackjack in the 1950's. The Four Horsemen, as they were known, put their heads together to devise what is now known as "The basic Blackjack strategy". The strategy incorporates both probability theory and statistics to leave players with the highest chances of winning a given game.

From there, Professor Edward O. Thorp took up the mantle of helping players win, devising a strategy known as card counting. Unlike the cheaters in Seville in Miguel de Cervantes' story however, card counters aren't cheaters. Casino owners may not like it, but card counting is perfectly legal.

Around the turn of the millennium Blackjack entered its current levels of fame. The first online casino opened in 1995 to great success, with online Blackjack being a huge feature. Shortly after that in 2002, the very first Blackjack Hall of Fame being created in the Barona Casino in California in 2002. Computer technology has grown at an exponential rate over the last few decades, bringing us the very first iPhone in 2007. The smartphone was a real game changer, with gamblers suddenly able to enjoy online Blackjack from behind the screen of a smartphone. You could now play Blackjack anywhere, anytime, for any stakes you wanted.

It's only been a few years since then in the grand scheme of things, but thanks to smartphones and 4G technology anyone in the UK can already play virtual Blackjack almost anywhere in the country at any time they like. What started as a simple counting game, probably around 400 years ago, has now become the most popular game in an industry larger than that of airline travel. Where Blackjack will go from here is anyone's guess – why not mull it over playing one of the several different Blackjack games at the Ladbrokes online casino?