One’s knowledge of blackjack history depends on which story you’ve heard. Like any other history it has many versions and the only thing we can be sure of is that the game is a really old one and has been in practice for decades.
Blackjack’s Presence Across the Globe:
It is believed that blackjack was born in China and then spread across the globe. In reality, many say it has been played in China since the year 900 A.D! This idea may stem from the fact that the Chinese shuffled their money in a manner similar to that of dealers when they shuffle cards during a game of blackjack. Playing cards were also known as paper tickets at the time.
The Roman Empire is known for its glorious and all conquering past. So it should come as no surprise that it may have conquered blackjack before any other civilization as well. Many people believe this to be true and claim that blackjack was born in Rome where people played a version of the game using blocks of wood. The blocks would have had some sort of numerical value.
France has always boasted the title of being a sophisticated and cultured nation. The French are no strangers to card games and hence it only stands that blackjack may have originated here as well. When blackjack came into being the people of France were already playing a popular game by the name of Vingt-et-un which in English is twenty-one. Vingt-et-un could very well be the basis of blackjack. This game became popular in the 1700s and slowly made its way across the Atlantic to the United States. The very word ‘blackjack’ has its rooting in Vingt-et-un. In a game of Vingt-et-un if one dealt an Ace of Spades and a Jack it was the best hand and their payout was called ‘blackjack’. So even France has compelling evidence to prove it was the birthplace of blackjack.
What’s more, the renowned author who was a gambler, Miguel de Cervantes made a reference to Vingt-et-un in Don Quixote. This famous book was printed around the year 1700 A.D implying blackjack’s history began in France or Spain.
Although blackjack had a strong presence in Europe it didn’t find its way to the Americas till the French Revolution. People didn’t warm to the game quite like the Europeans did initially. However, blackjack soon became incredibly popular and now centuries later Las Vegas is the place to go to play blackjack. The game also flourished thanks to the absence of gambling laws earlier in the States.
Now America lays claim to a large number of blackjack casinos and a correspondingly large fan following.
Blackjack’s history can also be linked with the religion of Islam. Paper money that came to them from the Chinese was redesigned by the Arabs. They were transformed in to lavishly decorated playing cards and when Arab travellers introduced them to the Europeans they were merely redesigned. The cards then resembled those we use today with kings and queens adorning them.