The Origins of Blackjack

Though blackjack is by far one of the most popular games in any casino around the world, very few people actually understand its origins. This document will reach back in time and discuss the history of the game from its early inception.

French Beginnings

The only documentation pertaining to a game like blackjack was found in France and states that a very similar game called Vingt et Un--meaning 21--was played here during the turn of the 17th century. Whether or not this was where the game originated remains unclear, but this is the first documentation of any similar game and the one with which most historians agree. In fact, the documentation states that a payout was made after a player reached a score of 21 before his or her opponent.

Italian Variations

During the end of the 17th century, it is thought that another blackjack-like game was enjoyed in Italy. This game, called Seven and a Half was only played with some of the cards in the deck, and the goal was to reach a score of seven and a half instead of the 21 that is known today. Players who went over the mark busted and lost their bets, similar to the game that is played in casinos. While this game has an Italian origin, it is generally agreed that the French were the first to play real blackjack.

Coming to America

Another reason why historians feel that the game has French origin is because the game only arrived in the United States during or shortly after the French Revolution. It is thought that soldiers played the game of Vingt et Un in order to pass the time while traveling from one location to the next, and that the Americans caught on and transformed the game into what is known as blackjack today. Since then, the game has made its way into every casino in the US and most of the casinos in the rest of the world, as well.

Blackjack is a very popular game with European roots; of that, players can be sure. Whether the Italians or the French were the first to play a blackjack-like game will always remain a mystery, but this does not deter people from enjoying the excitement of the game.