It seems almost surreal to think that the Blackjack online games you can play on your desktop computer or mobile device have a history that stretches back across three centuries, or more. Yes, players really have relished the action of the game also known as 21 for more than 300 years.
The game developed over time, but you still can find editions of Blackjack online at Lucky Nugget Casino that offer a taste of what some of the earliest forms were like. Keep reading and trace the history of the world’s most popular card game.
It Came Out Of Nowhere
The very first form of Blackjack seems to have come out of nowhere. It didn’t, obviously, because there had to have been someone who created it from scratch, or who was inspired by earlier games.
Historians have hazarded a few guesses as to which card games may have inspired 21. One of the those was Sette e Mezzo (Seven and a Half), and another possibility was Trente-Un.
First Written Blackjack Reference
The earliest written reference to the ancestor of Blackjack online is found in a surprising source. Published sometime around 1602, the short story Rinconete y Cortadillo was included in a collection of tales called Novelas Ejemplares, authored by none other than Miguel de Cervantes. The writer, who also was an avid gambler, is better known for his magnum opus, Don Quixote.
The short story describes an adventure of two players who are particularly good at cheating at a card game called Veintiuna. The Spanish word means ‘21’, and in the story, the goal of the game is a hand worth a maximum of 21.
The story also mentions that aces are worth either 1 or 11 points, which is also the same as in the modern form of the game. The biggest difference between the game described by De Cervantes and most editions of Blackjack online is the deck. Most modern versions use 1, 8, or another number of decks of 52 cards in the shoe, whereas Veintiuna used the 48-card Spanish deck. Spanish 21, a form of Blackjack online, also uses a 48-card deck.
The Game Goes To America
The French took 21 – or vingt-et-un in French – to North America during the 1700s, and it was in the New World that it underwent further development. One of the changes was that the dealer’s hole card was dealt at the start of the round.
This was sometimes down face-up, and sometimes face-down. It eventually became standard to deal it face-down, but with a rule that allows the dealer to peek. Another significant change to the game was the awarding of a bonus payout if the player was dealt the ace of spades and either the jack of spades or the jack of clubs – a hand that eventually became known as a Blackjack.
The term later came to refer to any dealt hand automatically worth 21 points. The large bonus offered for Blackjacks eventually was changed to a 3:2 payout, which is still a standard feature of games in land-based venues and online.
Into The Modern Age
21 became a standard offering in casinos around the world, so it was only natural that the game was one of the first to be offered by the early online casinos of the mid-1990s. Initially, software providers such as Microgaming focused on developing basic editions of European and American Blackjack online, but it was not long before that expanded to a range of variants.
The early 2000s saw the introduction of mobile versions of the game, and, within a few years, live dealer editions. No doubt the future holds many more exciting prospects for the card game, and for those who enjoy playing it.