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Blackjack History

The history of the game of blackjack is still quite disputed. Some evidence suggests that it was probably spawned in French casinos in the early 16th century as a variation of other popular card games of the era such as "French ferme" and "chemin de fer".

Originally called "vingt-et-un" (twenty one), Blackjack's popularity spread throughout Europe and to a greater extent the United States of America in the early 1800's. It was in the U.S. that the game became known as Blackjack.

The name "21" wasn't prevalent throughout U.S. casinos until World War II. During this war, in a bid to restore the popularity of the gambling industry (which had been experiencing a sharp downturn in business), casinos in Indiana began offering payouts of 3 to 2 whenever the value of a player's cards equaled "21".

To make the game more player-friendly, the casinos later decided that if a player was dealt a Jack of Spades and an Ace of Spades as the first two cards (later Clubs were included, and eventually any suit), they received a bonus payout of ten times the original bet. These two card 21s became known to players as "Blackjacks" (in order distinguish them from a 21 consisting of three cards or more).

By 1945, Blackjack was second in popularity only to the dice game craps, which held this pole position until the late 1960s. By the late 1970s, Blackjack was recognized as the most popular recreational gambling game, by far surpassing all other casino games (even combined).


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