Your browser is out of date and may not be supported!
Please consider updating your browser by clicking here

History of blackjack

History of blackjack – The Origins of Online Blackjack

The roots of the popular game of blackjack, the early history of blackjack, important blackjack figures and the development of online blackjack

The early history

Blackjack started out in France around 1700 and was derived from old French card games like "French Ferme” and  "Chemin de Fer." The French term for blackjack is "Vingt-et-Un," which literally means "Twenty-and-A."

The game became known as "blackjack" as the combination of an Ace of Spades and a Jack of Spades as your 1st 2 cards, would win you some extra cash. Blackjack only became popular in the US around the early 1800's and proves to continue to be the most popular casino table game ever.

Influential figures of the 20th century

Roger Baldwin wrote the very influential blackjack paper, The Optimum Strategy in Blackjack, back in 1956. This paper, which was published by the Journal of the American Statistical Association, helped change blackjack history forever. This paper is believed to be the 1st of it's kind to apply theoretical maths to the blackjack game. Baldwin used statistics, probability, and calculators to display the methods players can use to reduce the casino edge in blackjack. This 10-page paper consisted mostly of maths and how it applied to card games.

In 1962, Professor Edward O. Thorp expanded on the basic strategy technique that Baldwin had worked on.  Thorp, who is often called the "Einstein of Blackjack", added the 1st known explanation of infamous card counting techniques. Professor Thorp published a famous national bestseller book in ‘63 called Beat the Dealer.  The casinos were so upset by this book that they started modifying blackjack rules, to make it more difficult for gamers to win.  The casinos ensured that they took their advantage back by altering the rules. During this time casinos started introducing multiple deck blackjack and automatic card shuffling machines.

The influence of computers

Stanford Wong was the next in line to publish a famous blackjack book, and wrote Professional Blackjack. This book was the standard blackjack bible of its time for anyone who wanted to learn or improve his or her game.  This title was aimed at both beginning and advanced players and used computer simulation to teach blackjack strategy techniques.

Julian Braun, a former IBM employee and computer wizard, also contributed to blackjack history. Braun simulated basic strategy by programming thousands of lines of code for an IBM mainframe system. He developed new card counting and basic strategy techniques, which saw the light in the second edition of Beat the Dealer.

Ken Uston's blackjack team introduced electronic card counting devices in 1977.  They built 5 pocket-sized computer devices that hid in their shoes. The team managed to win over 100 000 dollars in a very short period of time, as they knew they would, but soon one of their computers was detected and handed over to the FBI.  This simple little device used publicly available blackjack info, such as basic strategy, that led to the FBI to say it was not a cheating device. Uston went on to appear on the popular news program, 60 Minutes.

This is blackjack history in a nutshell and of course new events are added to the history every day. Blackjack (including online blackjack) remains the most popular and most often played casino table game.