Live Blackjack History

blackjack cardsBlackjack, or Twenty-One, is a card game that has been played for centuries. While we may never know precisely where or when the first game of Blackjack was played, historians have managed to trace it back to the early 17th century.

Earliest Mentions

The first mention of the game's precursor, Twenty-One, is found in the short story Rinconete y Cortadillo by Miguel de Cervantes, of Don Quixote fame. Cervantes was a keen gambler and incorporated the game of 'Ventiuna', Spanish for Twenty-One, into his story written between 1601 and 1602. This early precursor to Blackjack was played on a Spanish baraja deck, which omits the 8's, 9's and 10's, rather than the full 52-card French deck we're used to playing with today.

Later references to Ventiuna and the French variant Vingt-en-un have been found in Spain and France, but we need to look to America to find out where the name Blackjack itself comes from.

Coming to America

live blackjack dealerWhen the game of Twenty-One was brought to America, gambling houses started to offer a range of bonuses to draw in players. One such bonus was a ten to one payout for a 'Blackjack' hand. This was when a player successfully reached twenty-one with just two cards – the ace of spades and either of the black jacks in the deck. The name stuck, and now applies to the game as a whole rather than just to this particularly fortuitous hand.

At the turn of the 20th century, Prohibition was sweeping through the United States, and with it came strict gambling laws. Blackjack's illegality did nothing to hinder its progress, and the game became even more popular as it was forced underground. In 1931, gambling became legal in the state of Nevada, and Las Vegas was born.

From here, Blackjack has gone from strength to strength and is now the most popular casino banking game in the world. Many variations of Blackjack have been created, including Spanish 21, Vegas Style Blackjack and Blackjack Switch.


Blackjack has also made a successful transition to the world of online gambling. From the birth of online casinos in the 1990's, Blackjack has remained one of the most popular online card games. Its most recent transition has come in the form of Live Blackjack, where players can play online, but rather than using a computer-generated dealing technique, cards are dealt live to players by a real dealer via online video streaming.

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