It’s really hard to give a proper introduction to Blackjack. After all, it’s one of the most recognizable and popular card games this side of Texas Hold’Em Poker. For centuries, serious gamers have hit the tables to play this intense game of chance and strategy to prove their prowess with the deck.
Even if you don’t play the game, just watching as the house tries to beat each and every player can be extremely exciting. Here are a few things you may not know about this engaging game and its history:
A Storied Legacy
There are disputed accounts of just exactly where and when Blackjack was invented. Both Spain and France claim to be the originators, but there was also an older, similar game, called “21,” in England. But where exactly it came from remains lost to the mists of history. Spain probably has the earliest reference to it (more on that later), but the full history is a little more complicated.
We do know that the earliest mention of Blackjack in France was in 1768. However, it was Britain where the rules for the game were first codified and published, around the year 1800, when it was called “Vingt-et-Un.” By 1899, it became popular enough in America to gain its own special name — “Blackjack.” Nowadays, it’s a mainstay around the world and online, practically synonymous with card gaming.
Blackjack is played with one or multiple decks of cards on a semi-circular table. Dealers or shuffling machines distribute the cards to the players (from 2-7 in number) and the house (i.e., the dealer themselves). The object of the game is to beat the dealer with the best possible hand. The perfect score is a 21. If you go over 21, you “bust” and lose your bet to the house (everybody still in the game wins if the dealer busts out).
So the basic idea is to get as close to 21 as you can — or right on 21 — without going over 21. If the dealer busts, you win. The numerical values reflect face value for cards 2–10 (2 is worth 2, 3 is worth 3, etc.). The royal cards (king, queen, jack) are each worth 10. Aces can count as either one or eleven. And now that you understand that, time to get the game going!
Rules of the Game
In casino Blackjack, you must either bring chips to the table or buy them from the dealer. Each player places bets in front of their space.
Once all the bets are on the table, the dealer can hand out the cards clockwise, one card, face-up, to each player. Then they repeat that sequence so everybody has two cards up and one down — except the dealer, whose second card is down. The down card is known as the card “in the hole.”
Players now have a choice to make: do they ask to be “hit” by the dealer — meaning they want another card — or stay with the hand they have? If you draw under a 10 on the first two cards, it’s safe. If not, you’re taking your chances you’ll bust. But once you decide to stick to a hand, you can’t get any more.
When all the players have either busted or stayed their hands, the dealer flips their card in the hole and deals until they either win or bust against all the other players. Anybody who beats the house wins their bets. Anybody who doesn’t loses.
Blackjack Fun Facts
Remember we said that Spain might have a good claim to Blackjack’s origins? Well, it turns out the very earliest reference to the game comes in the pages of “Don Quixote” by the legendary Spanish author Miguel de Cervantes. Did they invent it? Who knows? But they did mention it first!
And yet, over in France, another interesting tidbit emerges. None other than the infamous Emperor Napoleon was documented as playing and absolutely loving Blackjack more than any other card game!
Regardless of which country can actually claim the mantle of Blackjack’s emergence, the impact on history is stark. These days, there are over 140 countries that host Blackjack in their casinos. And keep in mind, there are only 195 countries in the world, so that’s by far most of them!
One term you may have heard of when it comes to Blackjack is “card counting,” which is exactly what it sounds like. In short, it is the method of keeping track of the cards in the deck to give players an edge on the probability of what card will come next — and it’s completely legal!
The Final Word
If you haven’t played Blackjack yet, don’t worry! It’s incredibly easy to learn the basics. Even kids have been known to play it with no betting, so if they can catch on, then so can you!
It’s the strategy that will take some time to grasp — even a whole lifetime. But that’s part of the fun of it. You can practice with no-stakes games online or with friends to get you ready for the real thing. Or you can go full-on “Rain Man” and learn every strategy and card counting!
Once you get it, don’t be surprised if you get caught up in the excitement. It’s an incredibly fun experience where luck turns good and bad with a flip of the cards. If you’re looking for a thrilling card game, this may just be the one for you!
Blackjack At RW NYC
Resorts World New York City visitors are welcome to enjoy a game of blackjack (and more) in its electronic version. Same level of excitement guaranteed!