Blackjack History

Blackjack or '21' is one of the most popular card games offered in both land-based casinos of Las Vegas and online casinos. Many people know the basic rules of online blackjack, in that they have to total 21 within their hands or make a combination that is higher than the dealer to win. However, not many of our players know where the game originates or any blackjack game history.

Blackjack Name History

Although popular within the land-based casinos of Nevada, the game of blackjack wasn't invented by the Americans. The first versions of the game we now call online blackjack date back to Europe, where it was first seen in French Casinos under the guise of a different name. Originally called Vingt-en-Un, which translates to 21, and the total players ultimately need to win, the name has evolved into the online card-based casino game we offer today.

Blackjack Card Game History

Delving into more than just the name of blackjack, the history of the casino card game offers origins of the game dating back to the Romans, who played the game with wooden blocks instead of the cards normally used in the modern version of the game. Still, the objective of the game was mostly the same, to make 21.

The more popular theory is that the history of blackjack and the game itself dates back to 17th century France where it derives from a card game played in French casinos called Chemin De Fer. A card game similar to the modern version of baccarat, it was a fixture in the royal courts of King Louis XV and played by Napoleon Bonaparte.

However, the history of blackjack as a card game doesn't stop in France, as there are also theories that the game is linked to a card game popularised in Spain called Trente-Un, which translates to 31. Unlike the modern version of blackjack, this game uses a minimum of three cards to reach 31, hence the name.

Modern Blackjack History Facts

The card game we now see with our live casino dates back to the 20th century in Nevada. Still called 21 during its first introduction following legalisation in 1931, it underwent a name change to blackjack to help with the marketing of the game, and the new name stuck.

Before being fully legalised, the card game was also played in New Orleans gambling halls, with French origins running strong throughout its introduction. To make '21' an attractive proposition, many land-based casinos offered an additional special bet that helped with the blackjack name history players are more familiar with.

The bet became active during hands, if a jack of spade or clubs featured in the players' hand, they would be awarded a payout of 10-1. Hence the move toward blackjack as those were the favoured cards. Moving further into the modern blackjack card game history, it was also the American casino scene that introduced two rules that allow the players to have a better winning edge. These are the dealer's upcard and the decision to hit on 16 and stand on 17.

Now there are many blackjack versions, including European Blackjack, Spanish 21, and the traditional card game variant, so even if you'd like to play something a little different, there are options available. However, all games have their routes within the classic blackjack, so the basic strategy and rules still apply.

Biggest Blackjack Wins in History

Many of the biggest wins in the history of blackjack card games have happened in the land-based casinos of Las Vegas and Atlantic City rather than online casinos. In fact, some of the biggest wins in blackjack history have been won by groups of blackjack players who've gone on to be part of a major motion picture or individuals who can place starting bets of hundreds of thousand dollars.

MIT Blackjack Team

If you're looking for the biggest modern blackjack game win, that's also known in popular culture. In that case, the MIT Blackjack team travelled to casinos in Atlantic City and Las Vegas during the 80s and 90s and employed a card counting technique.

Card counting is a blackjack strategy that players can't use in online casinos and is now frowned upon to beat the house in Vegas casinos. However, it allowed the team of blackjack players to earn between $50 and 100 million in prize money through several card games.

$40 million at the MGM Grand

When it comes to individual blackjack players, the land-based casino player who stands atop the rankings of biggest blackjack wins is Kerry Packer, who back in 1995 managed to cash out with a massive total of $40 million in just 40 mins.

Top 5 Blackjack Wins

  • MIT Blackjack Team - $50 million +
  • Kerry Packer -$40 million
  • Ken Uston - $4.5 million
  • Dana White - £2 million
  • Shoeless Joe - $1.5 million
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