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History for card games can be a little confusing. We often have a hard time deciding on where the card games originated from, but we do have some general ideas. It is hard to trace the origins of any game because history didn't necessarily think it was important enough to record. We can decide on the origins based on the written accounts. Blackjack is one of those games that has a muddied past.
Many believe that blackjack started in the 17th century. The game is also said to have started in France. The original name was Vingt et Un meaning 21.There are other games with similar names and rules, so we believe that blackjack is a root of Vingt et Un, though Vingt et Un can be from some other origin.
There are differences between Blackjack and Vingt et Un. The dealer is allowed to double and you bet after each round in Vingt et Un, which is not like the American version of Blackjack. Blackjack got its name from having the black of spades for the ace and the jack. The goal is the same in any of the versions of Blackjack that you can find in today's world. You need to have a total of 21 to win. You get a better payout if you get the natural blackjack.
During the 17th century there was a game in Italy referred to as Seven and a half. This game was played with face cards, the 7, 8, and 9 cards as well. You were to make a hand of seven and a half points. The 7, 8, and 9 were valued at one, which the face cards were a half a point. In Seven and a Half the King, with diamonds, was a wild card. The players who went over 7 and 1/2 were considered busted and lost the round.
Blackjack was taken to North America or the United States after the French Revolution. In the US there were no laws against gambling, and unfortunately France had quite a few laws at the time. This made it easier for those who loved to play to get on a ship and gamble. Gamblers were starting to develop tips on how to play and win. In the 19th century things changed in the US. The games, such as blackjack and other gambling games were outlawed. They felt it brought on more crime.
During this period Blackjack was played without knowledge by secret clubs. They had to meet in secret, avoid the police, and make sure that those playing were invited and trustworthy. The restrictions in the 1920's grew more and more pronounced, but in 1931 Las Vegas opened as a legal means to gamble. Some see this as a way to make it more interesting, because you can't just play it anywhere like you can play it in a casino.
To gain a better strategy for winning, several players tried to study the different aspects. Roger Baldwin in 1953 along with a few others began to try out their suppositions. In 1956 they published the first strategy manual based on statistics to help combat the house edge.
The information found at the time was helpful, but they didn't have the technology to get further down in the game. Edward Thorp was the next person to try and dispel the fallacies regarding the game and come up with the strategy in statistics that would work out better. In 1962 he finally published his findings with the card counting theory.
These books, especially the 1962 book, was on the list for New York Times best sellers. In history this is perhaps the most defining moment for blackjack as many wanted to learn how to successfully play the game. The casinos were not exactly happy with the published material, which meant they had to change a few ways of doing things such as shuffling the cards a little early. After the 1962 book 'Beat the Dealer' was released, this caused more casino worry and the eventual changes.
The good news for casinos was that the book by Thorp was difficult to read as it was full of mathematics most of us don't really understand. The individuals playing blackjack didn't like the changes made in the casinos as a result of the book. After much complaining and the casinos becoming wise to the uselessness of the book for most they went back to the old rules. The 60's through the 80's had blackjack as the most popular game.
There have been many individuals to try and figure out a winning strategy that can be used by the regular person to beat the casinos. The next person was Braun. Julian Braun was an IBM employee. He used the computer knowledge and blackjack rules to try and ascertain how to win. Lawrence Revere was another who offered tips on the blackjack game.
Ken Uston is the first that actually made a great deal of money on the whole. He released several books on Blackjack to the public with associates to help him. They had mini computers in their shoes that would be used as a way to get them the win. It was a complex system and very hard to explain, but the end result was upwards of 300,000 dollars from Nevada casinos.
There have been other groups since Uston to use the card counting techniques and computer chips. In fact one team was dubbed the MIT Blackjack Team. They managed to get away with several millions in the 90's. They were tossed out of Las Vegas and other casinos in 1997, when they were discovered. Griffin, an investigative company, at the time was able to identify the card counters and stop the cheating. There are still those who will try to cheat, but there is not much success when you consider the technology the casinos have today.
You can find blackjack in the North America, Australia, Europe and the UK. There are casinos with the game on land as well as the online casinos, offering a great deal of sport for those who love a little challenge.
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