History Of Blackjack
The history of blackjack is certainly the most debated history in the gambling world. Some claim that its origin can be seen in the French game called “twenty-one” which was very popular in French casinos in the 17th century. Others see its debut in Italy, as a game called “thirty-one”, which appeared in the 13th century. Let’s go for a little history lesson!
This game has a lot of similarities to blackjack, although its goal was to have a hand of 31 points on three cards. This game having been attested as early as the 14th century, it is the first ancestor of blackjack as we know it today. It is a priest, St Bernardine di Siena, who mentions him for the first time in a sermon dating from 1440, who wanted to burn the dice, the cards as well as the backgammon aprons.
Interesting fact: the first set of cards was printed by Johan Guttenberg, also known for printing the first Bibles. The game had 22 trumps and 14 cards of 4 suits.
The thirty-one was also mentioned by François Rabelais in Gargantua and Pantagruel. It was described in Chapter XXII as one of the 100 games Gargantua played. This would date back to a date between 1532 and 1542.
The game was then mentioned by Miguel de Cervantes, in Riconete y Cortadillo published in 1613 (ie 150 years after the sermon of St Bernardine di Siena), where he speaks of an unstoppable cheating technique at the “Trentuno”.
Seven and a Half
So this is another Italian game that made blackjack what it is today.
The game was only played with 8, 9, 10 and figures. The values of these cards were: the ace was worth 1 point, the faces were worth half a point and the other cards were worth their number. The king of diamonds had the particularity of being able to replace any card. The player with a hand over 7.5 was the loser and the player with the best hand was called. Unlike blackjack, the dealer could hit or stay.
Different from today’s blackjack in many ways, twenty-one still had a lot of similarities to it. The cards were dealt in a circle, allowing players to bet on any game. The object of the game was of course the same as in blackjack, to have a hand totaling 21 points, but only the dealer could double down, and s ‘he had a “natural”, all players called him 3: 1. The “natural” of the player made him win double his initial bet and a losing hand was … losing. Like blackjack, the ace could be worth 1 or 11 points.
As you can see, the twenty-one was very similar to blackjack, and it is for this reason that it is considered its predecessor.
Interesting fact: the twenty-one was very popular in France and Louis XV’s mistress Madame du Barry loved this game so much that she asked the king to throw her twenty-one parties to make her happy. . Later, Napoleon, who was against card games since they distracted soldiers, played twenty-one during his exile, to occupy time.