It is widely believed that Blackjack as we know it today originated in France. The first recorded mentioning of this game is found as "vingt-et-un" (twenty and one) in the seventeenth century. Just like with the rest of games we do not know precise origin of Blackjack and there are only guesses left as to what is the true beginning of this excellent game. Blackjack is thought to have descended from other alike French games but as the gambling games are built upon precise and well balanced calculations, this is very unlikely. Casino games seldom mutate one into another all on their own.
Blackjack is a very popular card game in Russia, where it's traditionally called "21" or "Ochko" ("the hole"). The game is not just played in fashionable casino but is also very popular among the folk, who play it passionately. Other known names for for Blackjack are "pontoon" and "California Aces". The English name "Blackjack" comes from the original French game where a played was rewarded to draw a Jack of spades and an Ace of spades as the first two cards. The first card to draw was Jack and spades is black, hence the name Blackjack.
Soon after the French revolution, Blackjack hit the United States and rapidly became popular because of its flexibility and freedom. Professional gamblers realized soon that Blackjack is a wonderful playing field for manipulating the odds and bets. Without government regulation, gambling was flourishing and provided a fine ground for this unique game until almost the beginning of nineteenth century which is when the government of United States realized that uncontrolled, gambling industry was leading to corruption and encouraged organized crime.The State of Nevada written gambling into law as a crime in 1910, and the situation was rapidly deteriorating for decent players while the industr went largely underground and became majorly criminalized, together with other ridiculous conducts of the government forming the very core of gangsters as we know them today. Eventually things went so horribly bad that the Nevada authorities finally got a clue, and the gambling was legalized, along with creation of laws that protect the players and overseeing bodies in the government. As the Las Vegas was reborn, Blackjack spread like wildfire throughout the casinos, momentarily winning the hearts and the minds of the players. As all other states were conservative and did not seek to reabilitate the casino gambling, Las Vegas quickly became the gambling center of United states. extremely reluctant to legalize casino gambling, Illegal and underground casinos were not and will never be competition to Nevada even though there are few other places in US where gambling is legal.
Today, Blackjack is played eveywhere around the globe. It is considered a classic in Canadian, European, Russian and American casinos all alike.
As a gambling game, Blackjack wasn't avoided by the science either. The scientists of late fifties took a great deal of interest in Blackjack. It is not a simple game mathematically, and calculating best gaming strategies seemed to be an attractive task for some maths and statistics scholars. Quite some effort and money was invested in the search for Blackjack holy grail; and some success was doubtlessly achieveed. In 1956, a matematician named Roger Baldwin and his associates published what we now know as the "Basic strategy" for Blackjack in Journal of American Statistical Association: cue cards with printouts of optimal strategy in Blackjack. Cantey, Maisel, McDermott and Baldwin created the framework for further development of basuis strategy. It was not in any way ideal, and there were known quirks, but the work of these gentlement inspired the rest of scientific commnunity, and so it was: prof. Edward Thorp reworked the strategy using newly available methodics and machines, and gave birth to the modern card counting techniques. The theory of card counting says that the card decks have "memory"; that is, under certain conditions and employing certain methodics, a player can tell whether the deck is favourable or unfavourable to him or her. The mathematical research that was spun off these theories was published in Thorp's "Beat the dealer" in 1962. Even though the theories that Therp brought up were not easy to understand for an average gambler, his work has definitely contributed to the popularity of Blackjack in the gambling community. Many gamblers wrongfully perceived his theories as an instant and unbeatable way to win and cheat the casino. His work caused a storm in the media and caused fear and loathing among the casino owners; but on and by at large, it greatly contributed to success of gambling industry as a whole.
Thorp's work led to Ken Uston's journey into the world of Blackjack. Dubbed the "Mr. Blackjack" and called a prima donna celebrity of the gambling world, Ken found a way to make a living off the Blackjack tables. His adventures produced even more chaos and awe in the casinos than Thorp's research.
In 1978 gambling was legalized in Atlantic City, making it another popular destination for American and not so american gamblers.
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