Blackjack, one of the casino’s most popular games, has been a staple of casino gambling since the first European casinos opened in the 1600s.
Blackjack is also known as 21. Today it’s hard to get into a casino game at a land-based casino because brick-and-mortar casinos take advantage of the game’s popularity and limit participation to high stakes VIP gamers.
You can, however, open up the online casino at any time and from any location and play any of the multiple blackjack variations with the online casino signup bonus at your leisure on your PC or handheld mobile device.
Evolution of Blackjack
The first mention of vingt et un – 21 – was made in an early 17th century book by Cervantes who followed his well-known Don Quixote with a short story called Rinconete y Cortadillo.
This is the tale of two poor boys who make their living playing a card game called veintiuna which is similar to the game that we know today as blackjack. The boys played the game with a Spanish deck where the 10’s are removed which is similar today’s Pontoon Blackjack. Otherwise, the gameplay is very much like modern Blackjack.
The game of 21 was adopted by early European casinos, first in Italy and then in the French Riviera. Blackjack immigrated to North America through French colonists in the 18th century where it quickly gained popularity, first in French settlements like Louisiana and then throughout the country.
The game was generally played in the backroom of saloons and among groups of ranchers and travelers who found blackjack to be a satisfying way to wind down and pass time during the long nights in the sparsely-occupied American territories.
Historically, blackjack was played much like today’s game, with participants trying to build hands that came as close to a total of 21 as possible without exceeding that value. The tradition began at that time to pay out hands that consisted of the ace of spades and a black jack (either the jack of clubs or of spades) at higher odds and that feature remains to this day.
The modern era of blackjack began in the 1930s when the Vegas casinos first opened. Blackjack quickly became a staple of the new Vegas casinos after the Nevada gaming industry refined the rules which established the standard 3:2 payout for a blackjack and introduced strategies to enhance players' chances of winning.
Today, Nevada casinos offer a wide variety of blackjack options including:
- Classic Blackjack – the most traditional form of blackjack, played with standard rules.
- Single Deck Blackjack – blackjack played with a single deck of cards – not favored by casinos because it makes card counting easy.
- Double Deck Blackjack – blackjack played with 2 decks of cards.
- Multi-Deck Blackjack – the most common type of blackjack at Vegas casinos, played with six to eight decks of cards.
- European Blackjack – a blackjack variation in which the dealer receives one face-up card and waits for the players to act on their hands before receiving the second card.
- Spanish 21 Blackjack – played with one deck of cards with the 10s removed. There are bonus payouts for specific hands and different rules for doubling down.
- Double Exposure Blackjack – blackjack variation where both of the dealer’s hands are dealt face up.
- Blackjack Switch – variation where players receive two hands and can then switch the second cards dealt from one hand to the other.
- Progressive Blackjack – blackjack with an extra progressive jackpot bet that allows players to compete for a side jackpot prize.
- 21+3 Blackjack – combination of traditional blackjack and 3-card poker side bet. Players can win based on a combination of their own cards and the dealer’s upcard.
One of the unique strategies that some players use when playing blackjack involves card counting. Card counting began to become popular in the ‘50s and the ‘60s when some players started to look for ways to gain an edge over the casino by keeping track of cards played. Card counting inspired the popularization of strategic play and further heightened the allure of blackjack.
Today casinos monitor the blackjack tables with security cameras and do their best to exclude anyone that they suspect of card-counting. But it’s not always obvious and many card counters stay at the casino blackjack tables while counting cards. Obviously, it’s not possible to exclude blackjack card counters from online casino blackjack games but, to date, no research has been conducted on the success of online casino card counters.
Today, blackjack is as popular as ever. It continues to thrive in casinos worldwide and has expanded its reach to online platforms. While the game's core rules remain largely unchanged, variations and side bets have emerged to cater to a diverse array of player preferences. The blackjack community, fueled by forums and strategy guides, continues to evolve and adapt as players seek the perfect balance between skill and chance.
You can play blackjack at any land-based casino though every casino offers its own set of blackjack variations and many retail casinos place table limits that restrict the blackjack tables to the high-stakes gamers.
You can also play online at your own betting preference, at your leisure. Grande Vegas online casino offers multiple blackjack options including 21 Blackjack, European Blackjack, Match Up 21 Blackjack, Suit ‘Em Up Blackjack, 21 Face Up Blackjack and Super 21 blackjack.