All about Blackjack

Apr 1, 2019 by

Blackjack, 21, Pontoon, Vingt-et-Un – whatever you call it, Blackjack remains one of the most popular casino games both at brick and mortar casinos and in the online gambling space. Popular culture has long been peppered with tales of legendary card counters, and the game still holds great appeal for those drawn to the idea of using skill and strategy to beat the house! Here we take a brief look at its history, how it’s played, and why it’s still so popular today.

Aim of the game:

As the name 21 suggests – the object of Blackjack is to draw a hand that comes as near to a numerical value of 21, without going over or ‘bust’. The cards 2 through 10 have their face value, Kings, Jacks and Queens are each worth ten, and an Ace can be played either as a 1 or as an 11. All the players at the table are competing against the dealer and can choose to draw additional cards – or ‘hit’ – to get their total closer to 21.

Once all the players have completed their hands, the dealer reveals their hidden card, and must then hit until their hand equals 17 or more points. At this point, any players who have not gone bust and have a hand closer to 21 than the dealer win the round. The popularity and widespread global appeal of the game has meant several different versions and related games with slightly different rules have arisen, so it’s always best to familiarize yourself with each version before you hit the tables.

Modern Blackjack

The rise of online casinos has revolutionized the gambling industry, and Blackjack is no exception – in fact, it quickly became the most popular casino game offered online. Outside of the physical casino environment, offering multiple versions of the game has several benefits – table minimums are lower, and you never have to wait for an open table, for example.

And now, the arrival of cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology has made transactions faster, more secure and allowed players from anywhere in the world to make use of a single digital currency in the form of games like Bitcoin Blackjack.

History of Blackjack

The first written reference to Blackjack we have is in a short story written between 1601 and 1602 by Don Quixote author Miguel de Cervantes, which centers around a group of cheats playing a game called veintiuna, which is Spanish for 21. Since then, many references to this game and versions of it are found in France and Spain.

What’s in a name?

But where does the name Blackjack come from? It’s actually a throwback to a clever marketing tactic employed when the game was first introduced to the United States. To get players interested in the new game, gambling houses offered special bonus payouts for particular hands. One of these bonuses was a 10:1 payout if a player’s hand consisted of the Ace of Spades and one of the black Jacks. This special bonus was only a temporary offering to spark interest in the game, but the name stuck and has been with us ever since.

What is card counting in Blackjack?

The central skill in any Blackjack game is a grasp of probabilities when deciding whether to hit or stand. The combination of luck and skill required to play Blackjack well is one of the reasons it remains so popular, as players who employ good basic strategy have a much higher chance of winning in the long term.

When your fellow players’ cards are visible to you or the game is being played with a single deck of cards, it becomes possible to memorize the cards which have been drawn, and better predict the likely value range of the next card you or the dealer will receive. This is called card counting or card reading – and while the process is a lot more complex than it sounds, and requires an unusual level of mathematical skill (and an excellent memory!) there have been several famous card counters who used it to great advantage.

Perhaps the most famous was the MIT blackjack team, who made a fortune in the 80’s and 90’s, and inspired Ben Mezrich’s book, Bringing Down the House, which later became the basis for the 2008 movie 21 which starred Kevin Spacey.

Blackjack in popular culture

Aside from the movie 21, Blackjack has had a starring role in several notable books and films. 1982’s Jinxed and 1998’s Croupier starring Clive Owen both center around Blackjack, and it features to great effect in the Best Picture Academy Award-winning movie Rain Man from 1988. On the lighter end of the scale, 2009’s The Hangover, about a bachelor weekend party gone very, very wrong, also features blackjack card counting. The combination of luck and skill which defines the game is one reason it continues to enthrall audiences the world over.

Image source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/85217387@N04/8620834406/

Blackjack, 21, Pontoon, Vingt-et-Un – whatever you call it, Blackjack remains one of the most popular casino games both at brick and mortar casinos and in the online gambling space. Popular culture has long been peppered with tales of legendary card counters, and the game still holds great appeal for those drawn to the idea of using skill and strategy to beat the house! Here we take a brief look at its history, how it’s played, and why it’s still so popular today.

Aim of the game:

As the name 21 suggests – the object of Blackjack is to draw a hand that comes as near to a numerical value of 21, without going over or ‘bust’. The cards 2 through 10 have their face value, Kings, Jacks and Queens are each worth ten, and an Ace can be played either as a 1 or as an 11. All the players at the table are competing against the dealer and can choose to draw additional cards – or ‘hit’ – to get their total closer to 21.

Once all the players have completed their hands, the dealer reveals their hidden card, and must then hit until their hand equals 17 or more points. At this point, any players who have not gone bust and have a hand closer to 21 than the dealer win the round. The popularity and widespread global appeal of the game has meant several different versions and related games with slightly different rules have arisen, so it’s always best to familiarize yourself with each version before you hit the tables.

Modern Blackjack

The rise of online casinos has revolutionized the gambling industry, and Blackjack is no exception – in fact, it quickly became the most popular casino game offered online. Outside of the physical casino environment, offering multiple versions of the game has several benefits – table minimums are lower, and you never have to wait for an open table, for example.

And now, the arrival of cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology has made transactions faster, more secure and allowed players from anywhere in the world to make use of a single digital currency in the form of games like Bitcoin Blackjack.

History of Blackjack

The first written reference to Blackjack we have is in a short story written between 1601 and 1602 by Don Quixote author Miguel de Cervantes, which centers around a group of cheats playing a game called veintiuna, which is Spanish for 21. Since then, many references to this game and versions of it are found in France and Spain.

What’s in a name?

But where does the name Blackjack come from? It’s actually a throwback to a clever marketing tactic employed when the game was first introduced to the United States. To get players interested in the new game, gambling houses offered special bonus payouts for particular hands. One of these bonuses was a 10:1 payout if a player’s hand consisted of the Ace of Spades and one of the black Jacks. This special bonus was only a temporary offering to spark interest in the game, but the name stuck and has been with us ever since.

What is card counting in Blackjack?

The central skill in any Blackjack game is a grasp of probabilities when deciding whether to hit or stand. The combination of luck and skill required to play Blackjack well is one of the reasons it remains so popular, as players who employ good basic strategy have a much higher chance of winning in the long term.

When your fellow players’ cards are visible to you or the game is being played with a single deck of cards, it becomes possible to memorize the cards which have been drawn, and better predict the likely value range of the next card you or the dealer will receive. This is called card counting or card reading – and while the process is a lot more complex than it sounds, and requires an unusual level of mathematical skill (and an excellent memory!) there have been several famous card counters who used it to great advantage.

Perhaps the most famous was the MIT blackjack team, who made a fortune in the 80’s and 90’s, and inspired Ben Mezrich’s book, Bringing Down the House, which later became the basis for the 2008 movie 21 which starred Kevin Spacey.

Blackjack in popular culture

Aside from the movie 21, Blackjack has had a starring role in several notable books and films. 1982’s Jinxed and 1998’s Croupier starring Clive Owen both center around Blackjack, and it features to great effect in the Best Picture Academy Award-winning movie Rain Man from 1988. On the lighter end of the scale, 2009’s The Hangover, about a bachelor weekend party gone very, very wrong, also features blackjack card counting. The combination of luck and skill which defines the game is one reason it continues to enthrall audiences the world over.

Image source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/85217387@N04/8620834406/

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