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Blackjack - How it began

Black jack is widely played all over the world, not only in gaming establishments and casinos but also regularly amongst home card gamers. In many countries it is a very popular social pastime and has many different names such as for example the Russians commonly call it "21" or "Ochko" which means the hole. Other known names for Blackjack are "pontoon" and "California Aces".
The name Black jack originally came from the French game. In order to win the player had to draw an Ace of spades and a jack of spades as the first two cards, hence the name, a spade which is black and the jack.

It is thought that Black jack was first played in France during the 17th century. It was at this time known as "Vingt et un" which translated in English literally means twenty and one. The exact details about how it began are a mystery due to the clouding of time and as with many other games we cannot really be sure of its roots. Some thought that the game of Black jack was a combination of other French games, however this is most unlikely due to the fact that gambling games are of a very precise nature and based on accurate calculations.

The game emerged in the US after the French revolution and became one of the leading games played in casinos and other gaming arenas. Gamblers began to understand that Blackjack is a fertile ground for calculating odds and manipulation. Until the beginning of the nineteenth century, gambling was not regulated by an official body and the games popularity flourished. With this highly profitable industry being completely uncontrolled the government began to realize that this was leading to corruption and the involvement of organized crime, where at this time the United States government decided that the gambling industry, had to be under legal supervision.

In the year 1910 the state of Nevada out-lawed gambling, forcing all gamblers to go underground and the establishments to become illegal organizations, giving another push to gangsters and mobs to control a huge, growing market. The US government realized that things must be changed and legalized gambling along with creating laws to protect both gamblers and their governing bodies alike. As Las Vegas was legalized it was re-born, leading to it being impossible to find a casino without a Blackjack table. It quickly became the gambling center of United States.

Blackjack was not over looked as an exact science either. Scientists and mathematicians from all around the world expressed a great interest in the game. It became a challenge for many of them to find a way to improve the gamblers odds and also to predict and manipulate the odds from the aspect of the cards.

In 1956, Mathematician Roger Baldwin published in the Journal of American Statistical Association the famous "Basic strategy" for Blackjack which created the outline for other developments and research of the basic strategic theory. The second man that discovered a major break through in the basic theory method was Edward Thorp. Using modern methodic and electronic devices he discovered the modern card counting technique that is known and still used today. The basic idea is that, using card counting, the player can easily tell if the next drawn card is likely to be higher or lower. This research was published in Thorp's "Beat the dealer" in 1962. The theory was almost impossible for the inexperienced gambler to understand but it still contributed enormously to the games popularity and interest from gamblers.

Thorp caused a media storm with his theory and naturally casino owners were terrified of the potential financial effect it could have on their business as many mistakenly thought that this theory was some kind of unbeatable way to win or to cheat the House. However this proved on the whole to be untrue but did however lead to a huge popularity boost for the gambling industry.

Blackjack is today played all over the globe. It is considered both a classic and traditional game featured in almost all casinos and its popularity is never failing especially in Canada, Europe, Russia and America alike.