Blackjack is thought to have evolved from the French game, Vingt-et-un (which means 21) that was played in the royal courts at the start of the 18th century during the reign of King Louis XV.
While the exact origins have eluded researchers for years, many believe that this was the point from which blackjack developed and, while it has evolved over the years, it has become the game we recognise today.
Evolution of Blackjack
European games where card values were tallied are said to also have influenced blackjack and these include:
● Spanish Trente-un (where the aim is to get as close to 31 as possible)
● the Italian Sette e Mezzo (aim for a hand valued at seven and a half)
● French Quinze (try to have a hand valued at 15)
When Blackjack was introduced to America by the French Colonists, it was called 21 – a name that still stands in certain circles today.
There are many similarities between the original version and the game we know today. An example of difference was the allowance for another betting round between the cards being dealt.
While the game gained popularity in America during the 19th century, it became popular once more when legal casinos were introduced.
As a way to attract more players, casinos offered an exceptional payout of 10:1, when a player made 21 points with the ace of spades and one of the black Jacks, like the Jack of spades or clubs.
It was a book written by 4 players named Baldwin, Cantey, Maisel and McDermott in 1957 called Playing Blackjack to Win that drew attention to the card counting strategy.
These authors outlined a basic strategy to keep track of the cards and reduce the house edge and, while they made some valid and interesting points, it was a book by Edward O. Thorp called “Beat the Dealer”, released in 1962 that took the world by storm.
A mathematician named Thorp developed a ten-count system. The system is easy! The number 16 relates to the 10s in the deck while all the other cards were filed under 36.
At the start of the game, Thorp would count down backwards, dividing the number of remaining “other cards” by the remaining 10’s to find out when the player had an advantage.
This system worked incredibly well at the time because the game was still played with a single deck. Blackjack is played with numerous decks now which makes the system much more complex.
Casinos fight back
The system was so effective that casinos noticed an impact on the house edge percentage.
As a hand of blackjack never uses that many cards for each hand, the shoe was never played through completely, with dealers shuffling the deck regularly despite having many cards leftover.
Casinos also then started adding multiple blackjack tables to cater for the surge of patrons who were keen to put Thorp’s book to the test and win big.
High Low System
Computer scientist Harvey Dubnar introduced an even easier strategy which was included in Thorp’s 2nd edition released in 1966. The Hi-Lo (High Low) system assigns values of +1, 0, or -1 to every card dealt to the player.
Each card is assigned a specific point value in the Hi-Lo system:
● Aces and 10 point cards = -1
● 7, 8 an 9 = 0
● 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 = +1
Let’s say the players are dealt:
● Player 1: 3 + 9 (value +1 and 0)
● Player 2: 10 + 5 (value -1 and +1)
● Player 3: 7 + 2 (value 0 and +1)
As this system was much simpler, blackjack players were now able to quickly adapt their strategies to any changes implemented by casinos.
Around this time, casinos started openly embracing card counters. Ultimately the strategies resulted in players coming back for more and, in doing so, boosted their profits anyway.
They took to it the next level by encouraging dealers and pit bosses to hand out basic strategy tables and offer advice on the ideal move to play in a difficult situation. However, the house still won in the long run.
Is an Ace valued at 1 or 11?
In the game of Blackjack, a Blackjack (made up of an Ace and a card whose value is 10) beats all other combinations of cards.
As the pillar of the game, the Ace is a tricky card in Blackjack because it can either have a value of 1, or 11.
Let’s look at an example:
● If you’re dealt a hand that includes an Ace, it is known as a “soft hand”. This is great news!
● Say you’re holding an Ace and a Four card as the first two cards dealt. This could equal 5, or 15.
○ Drawing another card is a safe bet, because if you drew a card valued at 10 points, you would simply give the Ace a value of one, for a hand total of 15.
○ If you drew another Ace from the Ace/Four hand, such a hand could total either six or 16.
Other Card Values
Aside from the face value of the playing cards (2 – 9), all other cards aside from the Ace have a value of 10. It’s as simple as that.
This makes it incredibly easy to play Blackjack.
With the birth of online casinos, many establishments offered a standard version as part of their range of table games. The game grew in popularity and this resulted in casinos having to find bigger and better alternatives to keep their patrons entertained.
Online Blackjack keeps the game fair as multiple decks are used and the cards are thoroughly shuffled between each hand.
A wide range of blackjack games can be found at most online casinos and this is just the tip of the iceberg. Live dealer games have evolved to produce a thrilling experience for all players!
With high definition cameras and live streaming, every live casino experience offers you the excitement and ambience of a real-life casino. You’ll feel like you’re there!
With knowledgeable and professional dealers who host fast-paced and energetic games, online Blackjack is now just as exciting as visiting a brick and mortar casino.
A few of the Blackjack variants you will find online include:
The first type of blackjack that you have found out about is classic blackjack. As with all blackjack variations, get your cards to a value of 21 or as close as possible without going bust.
Blackjack Switch is one of the most innovative online variants of the classic game that allows you to play two hands simultaneously.
Once your cards have been dealt, you get to switch the top cards from both hands, allowing you to create the optimal hands with which to play.
In this game, two cards are dealt in the middle of the table. Both you and the dealer then select one of the 2 cards for that round and it is possible for you and the dealer to select the same community card to play.
The multi-tasking version of blackjack, this is where you play more than one hand at the same time.
Single Deck Blackjack
While online blackjack is usually played with between 6 and 8 decks, this one is where you play with a single deck. Feel free to try the Thorp Ratio here.
Blackjack, but with a progressive jackpot. The progressive jackpot helps make the eventual payout from a winning hand even larger than it would typically be for a blackjack payout.
Blackjack Party is an outstanding variant on the classic game where you have not 1, but 2 dealers.
Only one of the dealers distributes the cards, but the other is there to interact with the principal dealer and entertain the players. With lots of chat and a low buy-in, the upbeat music lends itself to a festive atmosphere.
How to Play Blackjack Online
The simplicity of Blackjack is the key to its popularity. All you need to do is try to score as close to 21 as possible without exceeding 21. Using your skills to know when to accept a new card or stand with the cards you’re dealt is where the game can take a turn.
Place your bets
Depending on the variant of blackjack you’ve selected, your buy-in will be anything from 50c to hundreds, or even thousands of dollars.
Once the game has started, you can choose to bet however you please to suit your budget.
Hit or Stand
Once the bet has been placed and the dealer gives you two cards, the excitement will begin! You can now choose to hit or stand. Keeping in mind that the goal is for you to get to 21, you need to use your powers of deduction to calculate whether another card will get you closer to 21, or possibly take you over 21.
The table will allow you to hit multiple times until you, or the dealer reaches 21 or one of you exceed 21. If you or the dealer exceed 21, that player is “Bust” and the other player wins.
Should you reach a score of nine, ten or eleven with your first two cards, many online casinos will give you the option to Double Down, by doubling the bet. In this instance, you can then be dealt just one more card.
If you’re dealt two identically valued cards, you have the option to split your hand. This means that each of the cards are used to start with a separate bet.
An additional bet is required for the extra each split hand, but you are doubling your chances of winning.
The only exception is if you split two Aces, you will only receive one more card and, in this case, a score of 21 is not considered as Blackjack.
Blackjack is a skill-based game of chance. While some casino games are completely random, here, like in poker, you need to use your intuition and math skills to play and win.
There is, of course, a randomness when it comes to the cards you’re dealt, but it is perfectly possible to make a well-reasoned decision around how to play those cards.
It is easy to see why blackjack is such a popular casino game and a special favourite with those who are just testing the table game waters.
Can I play online blackjack for real money?
Yes! There are many fantastic online casino sites ready to welcome you by providing real-money betting options when playing blackjack online.
Are online blackjack games fair?
Yes, thanks to software RNG and external auditing, you can rest assured that playing blackjack online is safe and wins are fair.
Is online blackjack a good game for beginners?
Yes! Online blackjack is a great game for newcomers as it is easy to learn and betting options can be very low per hand.