Blackjack is a card game that is very popular in casinos. Being one of the most attractive casino games, it attracted not only beginners. Even professionals find this game alluring. But do you ever wonder where this game started? How come it is always beatable? Why is it still beatable after all these years?
A short history
Blackjack came from games in France and Spain. The Vingt-un or Vingt-et-un version swept across Europe. Vingt-un or Vingt-et-un means twenty-one. A lot of other games predated Blackjack. These include the French Quinze or Fifteen and the Italian game of Sette e Mezzo or Seven and a Half. Roger Baldwin and Arnold Snyder are both known as blackjack historians. They did a lot of research about the famous card game. The two researchers were able to identify the oldest forefather of Blackjack. According to the two, it is the Spanish game Trente-un or Thirty-one. A priest even referenced the card game in 1440 due to its fame. Trente-un was also mentioned by the author Miguel de Cervantes in a 1570 text.
One of the reasons why the game of twenty-one became popular in Europe is because it does not only rely on luck. You also need skills to win the game. The player needs to come up with a decision on whether to hit or stand. Players feel more in control when they make decisions. They like this more than waiting for the result without doing anything but place bets.
The Americans are keen on naming games for what they are not. Take football, for example. It is a sport that has little to do with feet. The game Blackjack has no particular bearing on black cards or jacks. The Americans came up with two new game rules that paved the way toward the game, becoming beatable. European versions did not show players the dealer’s upcard before players decide. Dealers used to make their own decisions on hitting or standing. They now follow a mandatory pattern established by the house. The new rule requires a dealer to play hit on a sixteen and stand on seventeen made the game even more beatable. It became difficult to determine who has the talent at the game.
House-banked Blackjack became established in Nevada in 1931. Game standards to regulate the action started to become enforced. Cheaters and sleight of hand artists abounded before that. Thirty years passed before the actual birth of card counting. A 1957 book, Playing Blackjack to Win, has an explicit reference to a basic strategy. The authors, Baldwin, Cantey, Maisel, and McDermott, wrote about how to keep track of cards. They discussed this as a way to tilt the game in your favor. This book did not capture the attention of the casinos or the public. Not like the book, Beat the Dealer, in 1962.
The coming of Thorp
Edward O. Thorp examined the game using early computers. He checked the possibility of gaining an advantage over the card game by card tracking. Thorp arrived at a startling discovery before publishing his conclusions in the book. The book, Beat the Dealer, gave birth to card counting in 1962. The book was a big hit. It even landed on the New York Times Bestseller list. Players bought the book and sped off to the casinos trying to beat the game. The casinos were, of course, overwhelmed.
The casinos implemented changes when they realized players were storming in with information. Single-deck games became two- and four-deck games. Casinos also added tables to the floor. They wanted to accommodate the influx of new blackjack enthusiasts. Thorp’s book gave more profits to the casinos. People who read the book were not willing, patient, talented, or practiced enough. They know how to do it, but they do not do it because they were too eager to win. In the end, the casinos were still winning big.
The game is still as beatable as ever. Casinos have taken all the game security measures possible. The rapid growth of casinos means that talent in the pit and surveillance room has thinned out. Budgets are tight in tough economic times. Casinos do not spend top dollar on surveillance experts anymore. One of the reasons is the high turnover and the need for state of the art technologies. There are only a few players who can beat the game by card counting. So, casinos tend not to demand much from the people in charge of catching card counters. The diligent players are not put off because there are a lot of other casinos to try your hand at if ever you get caught.
Blackjack is now available to play online. People who love to play Poker Online tend to love Blackjack Online, too. One of the reasons is the high possibility of beating the game. Play the game and be part of the next chapters of the distinguished history of Blackjack.