History of Blackjack

Second only to Poker for sheer popularity, Blackjack is without a doubt one of the most well-known and loved card games across the globe; featuring in Hollywood films such as 21, Holy Rollers and the now infamous Tom Cruise/Dustin Hoffman hit Rain Man.

To give you a rundown of this hugely successful card game, we looked at trends at providers, such as Paddy Power Games to bring you an in-depth history of the game itself from its early European origins, all the way through to the tech heavy and app-focused versions of the game we see today.


The earliest version of the game we recognize now, is a card game titled ’21’, whichin turn, was inspired by a large number of existing games in Europe at the time, where the goal was to reach a certain number. In this case, we’re sure you can figure the number out…

Some of the most well-known games were a game called’Quinze’, where the goal was to reach 15 and ’Sette e Mezzo’ which translates to ’seven and a half’ where the aim was, as you can imagine, to reach 7.5. To anyone confused by the .5, it’s because all face cards were worth 1.5.

The first written appearance of the ‘21’ game appears to be from a short story by Miguel de Cervantes (who famously penned Don Quixote).In this short story titled ’Rinconete y Cortadillo’,two young boys earn their riches by winning at a game called ’Veintiuna’. Veintiuna translates from Spanish to the number 21, and resembles modern-day Blackjack more than the traditional games like the aforementioned‘Quinze’ and ‘Sette e Mezzo’.

Moving Across Europe

The game eventually took off as ’vingt et un’ in France when it was introduced to casinos as a game that was relatively easy to understand and required  little by way of skill making it easier to access for the general population.

Image – Early 14th century Italian playing cards


Of course, eventually ’21’ morphed into being more colloquially known as Blackjack which is down to the game travelling to America and people introducing a special win condition. If your hand contained the Ace of Spades and the Jack of Clubs or Spades, the hand was called Blackjack and would earn you a 10-1 payout from the gambling house if it cropped up.

This particular offer didn’t last all that long and was soon withdrawn but the name stuck and the association did too. Even today, people call an ace and a face card a Blackjack, even when playing other variations of the rules.

With technology taking over from traditional card games, and gambling fans accessing the whole world of casinos at just the touch of a button, where do you think the world of Blackjack is heading? Do you think it could evolve even further from here? Or has it reached its final version? Drop us a comment to let us know and remember to share it with your friends!

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