History of Blackjack: Origins, Evolution, and Key Players

Home » Online Blackjack » History

Updated on: May 4th, 2023

Blackjack HistoryHistory of Blackjack is a rich and captivating tale that spans centuries. The game has undergone numerous transformations and cultural adaptations, from its early origins in Europe to its modern-day popularity in casinos worldwide. As one of the most widely played casino games, blackjack’s storied past includes notable players, strategies, and controversies.

In this page, we’ll dive deep into the history of blackjack, exploring its evolution from a simple card game to a beloved pastime enjoyed by millions.

Best US Casinos to Play Blackjack

 High Country Casino
100% Bonus up to $2500
T&Cs Apply
Red Dog Casino
Up to $8,000 of welcome bonus
T&Cs Apply
Vegas Aces Casino
Up to $5,000 of welcome bonus
T&Cs Apply
Comic Play Casino
250% Bonus up to $1,500. Min Deposit: $25
T&Cs Apply
350% Bonus up to $3,000
200% Bonus up to $10,000

History – Origins of Blackjack

Blackjack’s history dates to the 16th century when it was first mentioned in a Spanish literary work by Miguel de Cervantes, best known for his novel “Don Quixote.” In his book “Rinconete y Cortadillo,” Cervantes describes a game called “Veintiuna,” which translates to “twenty-one.” The game was played with Spanish baraja cards like today’s standard 52-card deck.

However, some historians believe the game’s roots are even older, with references to similar games appearing in earlier literature. For example, the Italian game of “Sette e Mezzo,” played with a deck of Italian-suited cards, also involves reaching 21 points without going over.

Evolution of the Game

Over time, the blackjack game evolved and spread throughout Europe and eventually to America. In the early days, the game was played with different rules and variations depending on the location. For example, in France, the game was known as “Vingt-et-Un,” which translates to “twenty-one,” and had slightly different rules than the Spanish version.

It was in the 20th century that blackjack became the game we know today. In 1931, gambling was legalized in Nevada, and casinos began offering blackjack as a popular table game. Casinos began offering bonuses for certain hands to attract more players, such as a hand containing an ace of spades and a blackjack (a jack of spades or clubs). This is where the name “blackjack” originated.

Key Players in History of Blackjack

Throughout its history, blackjack has attracted many notable players and personalities. One of the most famous blackjack players is Edward O. Thorp, who is often credited with inventing card counting. In his book “Beat the Dealer,” Thorp outlined a strategy for counting cards that could give players an edge over the casino.

Another famous blackjack player is Ken Uston, a famous “MIT Blackjack Team member.” Uston and his team used card counting and other strategies to win millions of dollars from casinos in the 1970s and 80s.

Controversies and Misconceptions

Despite its popularity, blackjack has also been the subject of controversy and misconceptions. One of the biggest misconceptions is that card counting is illegal. Although casinos disapprove of card counting and may even request players to leave, it is not illegal. Nevertheless, to thwart card counting, casinos have implemented measures such as using multiple decks and increasing the frequency of shuffling.

Another controversy surrounding blackjack is using “cheat sheets” or strategy cards. These cards outline the best plays for different situations, but some casinos prohibit their use at the table.

Conclusion of History of Blackjack


Blackjack’s history is long and fascinating, filled with interesting characters, strategies, and cultural influences. The game has come a long way, from its early origins in Europe to its modern-day popularity in casinos worldwide. Whether you’re a seasoned player or a beginner, understanding the history of blackjack can help you appreciate the game and its evolution.