Blackjack is one of the most popular casino games, but very few people who play it know much about its history. The game may not date back quite to ancient times since it is based on Baccarat, Vingt-Et-Un (21/Pontoon) and Seven-And-A-Half; games which primarily focus on reaching a specific card count.
Baccarat requires players to reach a card count of 9, and this game which Blackjack is based on in part was initially introduced in the 1490's. Seven-and-a-Half is a game that requires players to reach a total card count of the namesake game. Like Blackjack, in this game players automatically bust if their hand is over the goal card count, which is where this idea originally came from! One-and-Thirty is another game that can be attributed to influencing Blackjack and it dates all the way back to 1570. When playing this game, players make their ante bets and then receive 3 cards each; an additional 3 cards are dealt into the center of the table as community cards; like in Blackjack, this game involves creating a hand with a certain card count and involves adding new cards to the hand. Other games which are said to have influenced Blackjack are Quinze, a French game where players had the goal of creating a hand of 15; Trente-et-Quarante where players with a hand closest to 31 win, and like with Blackjack, if there is a tie between the player and dealer the house always has the advantage.
Vingt-Et-Un was the game that eventually brought a Blackjack style game from Europe to North America and this occurred around the late 1800's. In books like American Hoyle and Foster's Hoyle, this game is first noted and then it was still called Vingt-Et-Un. By 1910, Twenty-One, as it was then called in America began appearing in gambling halls and one of the first places to adopt it was Evansville, Indiana.
Unfortunately, despite its success in Europe, 21 was not all that popular in American gambling houses when it first came. Gambling houses tried offering different incentives to players to get them to give the game a try, including bonuses. One bonus was awarded to players who have the Ace of Spades and a Blackjack for a 10:1 payout. This special bonus was named "Blackjack", and even though the bonus round was eliminated, the name stuck!
By the early to mid 1900's, Blackjack became the third most popular casino game in Las Vegas, after Roulette and Craps. At this time, the green felt Blackjack Tables were being created and appearing in casinos, and around 1958 some basic blackjack strategy were being released, using numbers and counting which increased the game's popularity.
Now, you can't go into a casino without seeing multiple Blackjack tables, and ironically, many of the other games that inspired this one are no longer well-known or even in existence. Blackjack today not only appears in casinos worldwide, it's also one of the most popular games to play at online casinos as well! It has now even inspired a series of other games, like versions of Solitaire which give the popular game a twist and give more advantage to the player, and other games which incorporate additional bonus games and strategy to offer something a little bit different to those that have grown tired of the traditional form of the game.