Fridays are fun days. So I am going to continue with this being Fun Fact Friday. Again, I will take no arguments.
Do you remember a few posts ago when I wrote about the history of blackjack? Well, if not a quick recap: blackjack is, as of right now, credited as coming from France, showing up in casinos there in the 1700s. End of recap.
However the Italians had a game similar to Vingt et Un, the French name for 21, which was the original name for blackjack. The Italian version of the game is called Seven and a Half. French and Italian blackjack aficionados still argue over which country should be credited as being the first to have blackjack.
And to further throw a wrench into that debate is Napoleon. In documentation of Napoleon’s life it was discovered that Napoleon was a big fan of blackjack. So it could be argued that, being that Napoleon was French, that he picked up blackjack from growing up in France.
However, Napoleon spent time a good chunk of his time in exile playing blackjack. He was exiled on the island known as Elba. The Italian island I might add. So it could be argues that he picked it up in Italy.
So we are left with a point in each country’s corner as to who can lay claim as to where blackjack came from.
Now, much to the annoyance of the French and the Italians, the Spanish can lay a claim to being the source of blackjack. After all they do have their own version of the game: Spanish 21. But thankfully the Spanish seem to be more laid back about the debate and are happy to just enjoy the game.
Regardless of where blackjack originally came from, it made its way to the United States in the 1800s. And after a ban in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, has been enjoying its popularity since 1939 when Nevada made blackjack legal.
I have declared that today shall be Fun Fact Friday. There will be no arguing with me on this either.
But I promise to stick to blackjack facts.
To kick off this Fun Fact Friday I am going to start off with when blackjack first came to the United States.
Yes, we all know that it is one of the most popular casino games. Multiple tables can be found in brick and mortar casinos across the country, and more casinos are moving to legalize blackjack in their states so that they too can jump on the blackjack band wagon.
But it was not always this way for blackjack.
When this favored casino game first game ashore in the United States in the 1800s it was not popular. After all it was an unheard of card game, and with all the gentlemen in the clubs in the city and the cowboys out west hooked on poker, there was not a lot of space for a new card game.
In an effort to make blackjack more appealing, casino owners began adding rules and side bets. Some of the surviving side bets have no become the blackjack variations we have today. And while many professional blackjack players today do not advocate side bets, in the 1800s that was how the casinos lured in players.
In fact, that is how blackjack got its name. The game originated in France and was called Vingt et Un, which is French for 21. When the game came ashore in the 1800s it was simply called 21.
But through the various side bets and special payouts offered 21 was renamed blackjack. This is because one of the special payouts was a 10-1 payout given if the two card 21 was made up of the Ace of Spades and the Jack of Spades or the Jack of Clubs. Hence blackjack.
The 10-1 payout has long since been retired, but the name blackjack has stuck. Even when the special payouts and side bets became blackjack variations and the game was returned to what we know it is now, the name was stuck and blackjack’s rise to popularity was set.
Every now and then it is good to take a step back and appreciate where something came from. Like a birthday—you celebrate where you came from once a year.
This is not a birthday post for blackjack, but more of an appreciation. Kind of like when you go to a museum or paid attention in history class to a lesson that you liked. Not everyone knows where blackjack game from, what its history is. Studying a casino game is one thing, but true appreciation comes from knowing the game. And that includes its history. So today we are going to take a look at the history of blackjack.
I know that Captain Jack Sparrow liked to blame things on the French. But in this case blaming the French for blackjack is a nice thing indeed.
While blackjack has a bit of a murky past—seems no one really kept track of things like we do today—but the most agree that blackjack originated in France from a couple of other card games: Chemin de Fer and French Ferme.
Wherever and however it actually came about, we do know that I was showing up in French casinos in the 1700s. At least that is when it was first documented as being somewhere. In the French casinos it was then called Vingt et Un, which is French for 21.
At some point 21 crossed the Atlantic and made it to the United States in the 1800s as that is when it was first document as being played here. In the western U.S. gambling—and blackjack—was legal between the 1850s and 1910.
In 1910 casino games and gambling were declared felonies. But in 1931 Nevada had a change of heart and made gambling and casino games legal again. And that is when blackjack began to reign as one of the most popular casino games.
The 1980s brought blackjack to Atlantic City. And it has continued to spread from there. Twenty states now have legalized gambling with more doing so as they are drawn to the money that could be made from taxes to fill in their budget holes. In addition there are seventy Native American casinos spread out around the United States as well.
Blackjack has come a long way since it first showed up in French casinos in the 1700s.