Short History of Blackjack – from Origins to Today

alone blackjack table

The beginning roots

It´s believed that the game originates from Ancient Rome. Romans were quite the gamblers who played games highly similar to contemporary gambling and the new casino games; but rather than having a deck of cards, they used wooden blocks in it.

This and other forms of Roman gambling, such a chariot races and gladiator fights, were all viewed as evidence to recognize Ancient Rome as the founder of blackjack. Although this is a common belief, there is no hard evidence of this being true.

Casino connoisseurs around the world name various countries in Europe, mainly Spain, France, and Italy, as the founders of blackjack; however, Spain has more chances for the title of blackjack’s homeland.

Casino historians revealed that the Spanish card game Treinta y uno (meaning thirty-one), which derived from a classic 1570 text Novelas Ejemplares, was the backbone of modern-day blackjack. The novel holds some of the oldest references to previously called ¨Trienta y uno¨ which became blackjack or, as it’s also known, the game of 21.

Transformation of blackjack

Along with Spain, France and Italy had their version of the game of 21. All these versions entailed cards with values, leaving the gambler to draw as close to the highest value as possible without losing everything. Despite its already established popularity, it quickly became one of the few card games that required skill, and perhaps some luck.

So, how did the it get its name? The name ¨21¨ was derived from the goal of obtaining 21 points. However, it wasn´t until the Americans were introduced to it during World War I that the name changed. Besides not having anything to do with jacks, or anything black, it was nicknamed so because the payout was offered to whoever held an ace of spades and a black jack card.

Blackjack today

Americans also added more criteria to the rules over time, which made it more competitive than the European version. Despite its uncertain past, blackjack has transformed into the most popular casino game. Casinos are creating new machines globally and use better playing tables and dealers, while pit bosses and gamblers are continually seeking new strategies to keep the thrill of such a loved pastime.