In this article, we take a look at some of the best blackjack fun facts and the history of the game. Blackjack is one of the most popular casino games to play at brick-and-mortar gambling houses or online gaming sites. It has a long history and is one of the most popular games worldwide. Keep reading to learn more about the game of twenty-one.
An Introduction to Blackjack
One of the best things about Blackjack is that even if you are completely new to the game, you can get started playing in no time at all. The game is based upon a very simple concept and the basic blackjack rules take hardly any time to learn. In this section, we will take you through all the rules that you could possibly need to know so that you can start playing straightaway.
The aim of Blackjack is very straightforward. You simply need to build a hand of cards that has a value closer to 21 than the dealer’s hand. If a hand exceeds 21, then it busts, which means that it automatically loses. However, as long as your hand is closer to 21 than the dealer’s is at the end of the round, then you have won.
It is worth stressing even at this point that the aim of the game is not to form a hand as close to 21 as possible, but to form a hand that has a higher total than the dealer’s hand does without going bust. It is a subtle difference, but one of the key’s to successful play.
Calculating a hand value in Blackjack is very easy. Most of the cards are worth their face values and you simply add them together. The picture cards (Jack, Queen, King) are worth 10 and Aces can be worth 1 or 11. This means that you can form a hand of 21 with just two cards, a 10-card and an Ace. This hand is called Blackjack; it is the strongest hand and it will beat all other hands in nearly all versions of Blackjack.
Understanding Hard and Soft Hands
When looking at your hand there is just one more concept that you need to understand. Hands are referred to as Hard or Soft depending on whether they contain an Ace.
If a hand does not contain an Ace or if it contains an Ace that is counted as 1 then it is Hard. If the hand has an Ace that is worth 11, then it is soft. For example, a hand of 7 and Jack is worth 17, and it is a hard hand, as is a hand of 7, Jack and Ace, which is worth 18, whereas a hand of Ace and 4 is a soft 15, while Ace, 3, 3 is soft 17. Hands containing an Ace usually start as soft but then become hard as cards are drawn to them.
A Round of Blackjack
A round of Blackjack is very easy to understand and takes very little time. To begin with, you need to place your bet. Just place your chips on the betting area on the table. This is also the time to place side bets, which are explained in a later chapter. Once all players have placed their bets, the dealer deals you two face-up cards.
The dealer will also receive cards and the way in which this happens depends somewhat on the variant being played. However, generally, the dealer will receive either one face-up card and one face down, or just one face-up card. You can find more details about this in the section that deals with Blackjack variants.
Each player at the table will then take a turn to play his/her hand. There may be a number of different options depending on the cards that have been dealt. However, the basic options are as follows:
- Hit – If you select Hit then you will receive another card to your hand. If it does not send you bust, then you will have the option to Hit again.
- Stand – If you select Stand then it means that you are happy with the hand as it is and play will then move on to the next player.
- Double Down – If you select Double Down, it means that your bet is doubled and you receive just one more card to your hand before play moves on. In the vast majority of Blackjack games, Double Down is only available after the first two cards have been dealt. Furthermore, there are some versions in which Double Down is only allowed on specific hand totals.
There are scenarios where other options will become available to you and these are worth explaining in a little more depth.
The Rules on Splitting
To begin with, in nearly every version of the game, if the first two cards dealt to you have the same value, e.g. 7 clubs, 7 Diamonds, then the cards can be split into two separate hands. To do this, you will have to place a second bet equal to your first. You can then play each hand independently. However, there are often rules restricting how the hand can be played. For instance, you may only be able to draw a certain number of cards, double down may not be allowed, you may or may not be able to split a split hand, and so on.
Another very common option is Insurance. If the dealer’s up card is an Ace, then you may be able to take out insurance against the dealer having Blackjack. The insurance is a side bet that costs half of your original bet, e.g. if you had bet $1 then insurance would cost $0.50. If the dealer then has Blackjack, the insurance bet pays at 2:1, which means that you will not have lost money for that hand.
What is Surrender
Some versions of Blackjack give you the option to Surrender. This means that you abandon the hand and in exchange, receive half of your bet back. There are two forms of Surrender, Early Surrender and Late Surrender. If a game offers Early Surrender, it means that you may abandon the hand before the dealer checks for Blackjack if they have an Ace as their up card and possibly a 10 card (depending on the specific variant). However, this is very rare. Late Surrender is far more common, and it allows you to surrender your hand after the dealer has checked for Blackjack.
Even Money Payouts for Blackjack
Finally, in a few versions of Blackjack, if you are dealt Blackjack and the dealer’s face-up card is an Ace, then you may be offered Even Money. This means that you accept a payout of 1:1 before the dealer checks for Blackjack. This way you can be sure of making a profit; as if the dealer does have Blackjack then your bet would be returned as a push.
After all the players have finished, it is the dealer’s turn. There is a great deal of variation in the rules governing how the dealer plays. However, in general, the dealer will be required to draw cards until their hand is worth a specific value and then stand as soon as they reach it.
For example, you will often see the rule that the dealer must draw until the hand is worth at least 17 and then stand. However, some games will have different rules for hard and soft 17s.
After the dealer has played, players are paid for winning hands. Most of the time winning hands are paid at 1:1, unless the player has Blackjack, which is commonly paid at 3:2. If the dealer and player hands have the same value, then the bet is returned as a push.
A History of Blackjack
It is possible to trace the roots of Blackjack back hundreds of years. Before the modern form of the game there was a popular English game called Vingt-Un, or twenty-one. The exact origins of this game are not known, but it was probably Spanish and it is referenced in literature dating back as far as 1601, such as Miguel de Cervantes tale Rinconete y Cortadillo.
By the late 1760s, Vingt-Un was very popular in France and it reached Britain the following decade. It was a while before the game reached the US, but there is evidence it was played there in the early 1800s and the printed version of the rules in the US came in 1825 (which was a reprint of the 1800 English rules). This game gradually evolved and it was renamed Blackjack in roughly 1899.
There are competing theories about how the name Blackjack came about. For a long time it was thought that the name came from the bonuses offered by gambling houses in the US in order to attract more players. One such bonus was a payout of 10:1 if the player held an Ace of Spades and a black Jack (clubs or spades). However, this theory has since been disproved.
Today, it is thought that prospectors first used the name Blackjack during the Klondike Gold Rush in the final years of the nineteenth century. The game offered a bonus payout for any hand containing an Ace and a 10-card, i.e. Blackjack. At that time, the term “blackjack” was used to refer to the mineral zinc blende, which was often found near gold or silver deposits, and prospectors then started using it for the game’s most valuable hand.
Since then, the basic rules of Blackjack have remained much the same. As discussed, there are now many different variants, but they are all based upon the same principles. Over the last half-century or so, Blackjack has become the most popular casino card game, and it looks set to remain so for a long time to come.
Playing Blackjack Online vs In a Land Casino
While the rules of Blackjack may be largely the same when playing online or in a land casino, the experience is vastly different.
To begin with, in a land casino, there will be other players at your table. This not only changes the atmosphere, but as discussed above, it gives you more information upon which to base your betting decision as you can see what cards the others have been dealt (this is also true when playing live dealer games online, but the social atmosphere will be lacking).
Furthermore, when you play an RNG Blackjack game online, you are in complete control of the pace of the game. You can take the time to refer to strategy charts and plan your bets carefully. In a land casino, many factors will affect the pace of the game. You need to wait for each player to make decisions, for the dealer to shuffle and deal the cards, and so on. There are advantages and disadvantages to slow and fast play, and ultimately it is a matter of personal preference.
You will also find that Blackjack is much cheaper to play online. In most land casinos, the minimum bet is likely to be in the region of $5 whereas online, you will find games that accept bets of $1 or even less. Unless you are a high roller, this means that you will likely be able to play for longer online.
Online Blackjack is also far more convenient than playing in a land casino. Visiting a casino requires you to travel, which costs time and money, and possibly obey a dress code. You can start playing online in a matter of seconds from a huge range of devices, and no one will care what you are wearing. Furthermore, when you visit a land casino, you may find that all the seats are taken at the Blackjack tables. This is simply not an issue online and even if you are playing live dealer games, there is functionality that allows an unlimited number of players at a table.
On the other hand, if you are interested in giving card counting a try, then you will have to play in a land casino, as it simply isn’t possible with online games. If you are going to play in a land casino, then you will also need to be aware of basic Blackjack etiquette. For example, if there are players seated at a table then you should always ask their permission before joining.
If you are purchasing chips from the dealer, then do not hand them the cash, simply place it on the table and the dealer will collect it and exchange it for chips. Similarly, after placing your bets on the table, do not touch the chips again, and ideally you should use hand signals to show the dealer whether you want to hit or stand (you can learn these very quickly by watching the other players).
Ultimately, it is not a case of one being better than the other. Playing Blackjack online and in a land casino are simply entirely different experiences, both of which are highly enjoyable. If you want fast-paced convenient play and you are not bothered about meeting other players, then the online game is the perfect choice. However, if you want to enjoy the casino ambience, chat with fellow players, and enjoy a more relaxed pace, then a night out at a top casino is just what you need.
Blackjack Fun Facts
Now that we have discussed the rules of the game and the history, it is time we focus on some Blackjack fun facts.
- Blackjack is one of the only games in which is it possible to overcome the house edge, meaning that some players make their living entirely by playing.
- When played with the correct strategy, Blackjack games that have rules that are favorable to players may have a house edge as low as 0.3%.
- Blackjack is one of the very few games where the player decisions really matter and will have a direct impact on their success.
- While players have used card counting systems for a long time, it wasn’t proved until the mathematician Ed Thorp published Beat the Dealer in 1962.
- Blackjack is one of the oldest gambling games in the world; it dates back to at least the late 1500s and had rules that were remarkably similar to the modern game.
- Blackjack is the most popular casino table game in the United States, largely because card counting has been popularized through films and television.
- In Atlantic City, casinos cannot legally ban players for card counting. That is why all the casinos make use of automatic shuffling machines and play with eight decks of cards.
- A dealer named Stephen De Raffaele holds the Guinness World Record for the longest time dealing Blackjack; 51 hours and 33 minutes.
- There is a Blackjack Hall of Fame in Barona Casino in San Diego, California, and it honors the game’s best players and authors, such as Arnold Snyder, Ken Uston, Darryl Purpose and Don Schlesinger.
- The reason that the device dispensing the cards is called the shoe is because when it was first invented, it looked like a woman’s high-heeled shoe.
The Bottom Line
The best Blackjack fun facts are the ones in which you hear stories about players that have taken on the casino and won. It just goes to show that land-based casinos and online gambling sites can always be taken for some cash, however, you will need to know when to quit. Blackjack is a game of chance and by using the correct strategies, you can reduce the house edge on every single hand. To test your luck at the best online blackjack casinos, simply visit this link and see what your top options are.