Arguably one of the most popular wagering games of all time, blackjack has had a number of names over the decades and is steeped in history.
Initially known as ‘21’ or ‘Vingt-et-Un’ in French, its origin is unknown, though it is understood to have European roots. The first reference to the game was found in a Spanish book called Don Quixote by author Miguel de Cervantes and refers to a game called Ventiuna which had very similar rules to ‘21’ and is thought to date back to the late 17th century.
Essentially, the rules of Blackjack are for a player to achieve the target 21 with as few cards as possible; the best way is to get one card that has a value of ‘10’ and another card with a value of ‘11’; in this instance, an Ace counts as both ‘11’ and ‘one’.
Playing in a casino
When casinos first started to offer this game, it was a huge hit, mainly because of the simplicity of the gameplay and the excitement that it generated.
At a Blackjack table in a casino, the dealer faces between five and seven players who are opposite him in a semicircle. Between one and eight 52-card decks are then shuffled together.
Prior to each round, a maximum of three players can then place their bets on the ‘betting box’ at each in play position. The player whose bet is at the front of a betting box dictates the position and the dealer will liaise with this player regarding the hand.
Cards are then dealt, either from a shuffling machine or a device known as a ‘dealing shoe’. Single cards are then dealt to each position that has been wagered on from the dealer’s left, with each card either dealt face down or face up depending on how many decks are being used.
As with any game in a casino, etiquette is hugely important and in Blackjack, this is no different, however, playing online is far easier especially if you are a beginner who is just learning the rules.
Ultimately, the aim of Blackjack is for a player to get a card total of 21 and beat the dealer, however, they can choose to ‘stick’ or stay on a card total of at least ‘16’, as long as they get more than the dealer.
There are a number of things that a player can decide to do during the game of Blackjack, regardless of whether they land in the sticking territory. If they don’t, they have to essentially ‘hit’ which means to receive another card, while if they do achieve a relatively high score without going bust, they can decide to ‘split’.
This is quite a common tactic in the game of Blackjack, especially if a player gets a hand where they have two of the same cards at a value higher than eight. It then sets up the player to get two really good hands and increase their odds of winning.