Live Blackjack History
Blackjack, or a game very similar to it, has been around for centuries, the first time it is mentioned in print was in a short story by Cervantes (the author of Don Quixote). Two of the characters in this story are cheats at a game called 'Ventiuna' (very similar to 'Vingt-et-un', another name for blackjack meaning 'twenty one'), as Cervantes was quite the dedicated gambler himself, the description of the game was clear and unmistakeable. The game 'Vingt-et-un' was known in France during the seventeenth century, from here it spread to America and Canada as Europeans immigrated to the states in the 19th Century.
Why Call It 'Blackjack'?
The name twenty one, vingt-et-un, ventiuna etc. have quite an obvious origin, as they all represent the number you're aiming to hit but go no higher than. However the name 'blackjack' isn't as obvious. Some people say that it originated from the early days of the game in American gambling houses; the story says that to allure people into playing the game, they created bonuses on certain hands.
These bonuses gave a massive ten to one pay-out if the hand was made up of an ace of spades and either a jack of clubs or a jack of spades (also known as the blackjacks). Eventually, enough people were playing the game that the gambling houses took away the bonuses, however the name blackjack stuck. Today we still have a blackjack hand and see it as the best hand you can get, however it refers to any two cards which make up 21, rather than the specific 2 cards you'd have to receive.
Enter the Dealer
When blackjack first came around, the dealer was just one of the players that would hand out the cards, every turn the dealer would change to the person on the left and it would continue in this fashion until a clear winner was made. When the gambling houses were established, a dealer was provided by the house, this was so that there was one person who could manage bets, deal the cards and also make sure that no one was cheating. If you've ever seen a western then you'll know that fighting over cards usually ends up guns, blood and tumbleweed.
Viva Las Vegas
In 1931, the American state of Nevada legalised casinos and blackjack became one of the most played games ever. It had been played in Europe for quite a while before this but it hadn't had as much of an impact; however it does explain why there are two ways of playing. Soon, the city of Las Vegas in Nevada became the one place to visit if you were a big gambling fan, hotels sprung up overnight and soon the little scrap of land in the middle of a desert became one of the most luxurious cities to ever exist.
The Famous Technique Of Counting Cards
Card counting is a perfectly legal strategy; however some casinos will ban you from their tables if they suspect that you might be counting cards. In 1979, the MIT Blackjack Team was established. They claimed to use statistics to determine what the next card to appear would most likely be; everyone else called this card counting and saw it as a way of beating the casinos with ease. The MIT team's success wasn't instant, however after ten years they were able to make large profits and prove their theory correct.
Whilst card counting can be done and has been proven to improve your chances, it isn't the easiest of techniques to use, you don't have to be a university graduate to pull it off, but you do need a good memory. Most casinos will also try to stop people from counting cards by shuffling the deck every now and then.
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