A Look at the History of Blackjack

A Look at the History of Blackjack

Blackjack is a staple in casinos and is also one of the most popular card games played. The origins of blackjack is thought to stem from France where it was called vingt et un or twenty one. Blackjack seems to date back to the 17th century.


Blackjack is played all over the world and is highly popular in Russia where it is known as 21 and Ochko.

The English term of blackjack comes from the original French game where a player is rewarded if they draw a jack of spades and ace of spades as their first two cards. Since the first card drawn was a blackjack the game came to be known as this.

Shortly after the French Revolution blackjack travelled to the US and was soon a favourite with gamblers and casual players. Gamblers realised that blackjack had a solid ground for betting strategy and odds manipulation.

After gambling became legal in the US, blackjack flourished and spread throughout all the casinos in Las Vegas. Las Vegas also became the king of the gambling industry and blackjack was one of the most popular casino games.

Blackjack has attracted the attention of the scientifically minded drawn by the odds and the mathematical possibilities to figure into the 1956, Roger Baldwin came up with the basic strategy for playing blackjack.

Edward Thorp built on the basic strategy and came up with the modern card counting techniques. The card counting strategy uses the knowledge of the cards that have already been dealt in order to make predictions about the cards remaining in the deck. The more low value cards that have been dealt then the more high value cards there are remaining in the deck according to the theory. The player that believes that the deck is stacked with high value cards can up their bet to take advantage of the perceived increase in odds.



The History of Poker

history of poker

The game of poker first appeared in literature in 1526. Poker is the game where each player had three cards and the combinations that could be made were three of a kind, a pair and a flux, which is flush that is a three cards of the same suit.

Later on certain cards had special value which is similar to wild cards in modern poker. By 1700 betting and bluffing aspects had produced the games of brag in England and pochen in Germany. The French used pochen to create a similar game called poque, which was first played in French America in 1803, when the Louisiana Purchase made New Orleans and its surroundings territories of US.

In the next 20 years, English speaking settlers in the Louisiana Territory adopted the game and called it poker and the features of the modern game were then created.

The earliest reference to poker in America occurs in the literature of Joe Cowell in 1829, who was a touring English actor.

In his description it is clear that the original American game was played with a pack of cards, which included five cards for each player. All of the cards were dealt and the players would then bet on who had the best five card combination.

1834 is the second known date where there is a reference to poker and the game had then been adapted to the modern 52 card deck. Since then the history of poker consists of new features that were introduced to encourage freer betting. The straight was introduced as an additional valuable hand as well as the draw, which allows players to stay in even if they did not have good hands, stud poker, which was used to increase the betting opportunities and the jackpots, which used the player’s antes in order to create an unusually large pot at the start.

In 1871 the spread of poker began with Colonel Jacob Schenck, who was the US minister to Great Britain. He explained the game to a group of men which included members of the British court.

Queen Victoria then heard about the game and was intrigued. Schenck then wrote and privately printed a set of rules to send to her.

Poker was considered a gambling game for men, but after the 1920‘s the popularity of the game extended to both males and females and to all levels of society.

In the 20th century a survey was conducted that showed that poker was the favourite card game among American men and was the third favourite among American women after rummy and bridge. In Great Britain the game ranked after contract bridge with both sexes.

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Poker Facts

Poker Facts


The history of Poker is full of wonderful facts and here are some that you may not have known according to

  1. Poker is American

Poker began in New Orleans, even though it is not known when the first hand was played, historians believe that poker as we know it developed in the early 18oos in the Louisiana Territory. The name of poker came when there were more English speaking settlers following the Louisiana Purchase of 1803.

  1. Only 20 Cards

In the early days of poker, the most common form was played with a 20 card deck and four players. Players were dealt five cards and then would bet on who had the best hand. Playing poker with a 52 card deck is said to have started from 1834 as this was first documented mention.

  1. The Longest Game

The Bird Cage Theatre in Tombstone, Arizona claims that they hosted the longest running game in history; however it is impossible to verify this claim. In 1881 the Bird Cage tournament required a $1000 buy in and featured several iconic old west personalities. The game is claimed to have lasted eight years, five months and three days.

  1. Poker Chip

Up until the late 1800s poker chips were any small and valuable object, but saloons and gaming houses were looking for standardized units which came in the form of crafted chips out of ivory, bone, clay and wood which were then decorated with unique symbols. In the early 1900s commercial firms began selling manufactured clay chips.

  1. World Series of Poker

In 1970 in Las Vegas a group of hot shot players gathered to go head to head to discover the first world champion poker player. Instead of a freeze out tournament the winner was decided by voting.

  1. Television

In 1973, CBS broke into the drama of Poker and nationally televised the World Series of Poker from Las Vegas. The prize money for first place was $130 000.

Poker is an ever growing game, with more and more people embracing it in casinos and online nowadays. The popularity of the game will most likely continue to grow.



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