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Historians and gambling enthusiasts have had trouble pinpointing exactly how the game of Blackjack got its origins. It has been generally agreed, though, to give the credit to the French for inventing the card games that were similar to what we know as Blackjack.
First came two games called “chemin de fer” and “French Ferme”, and then came “vingt-et-un”, which means 21. This began in casinos in France around the year 1700. Even though the name of the game implies that it is the same as the Blackjack of today, it was played somehwat differently than today’s version of the game. The goal was still to reach a total of 21, but a round of betting occurred after each card was dealt.
The Italians had a card game called “Seven and a Half” about this same time period that was played with only the face cards plus the 8s, 9s, and 10s, which were worth a half a point. The object was to reach seven and a half points without going over. This game may also have helped inspire the game of Blackjack.
Many people believe that the true precursor to Blackjack was a game called “Twenty-One” that does not have a definitive place or time of origin. The first known reference to it came in some of the works of the author Cervantes who wrote in the early 17th century. This game seems to have had almost the same rules as Blackjack.
Twenty-one was introduced to America around the latter part of the 18th century. The game was not received very well in the online gambling houses, so the owners of the houses added incentives. One incentive was to pay a bonus payout if a winning hand included the ace of spades plus a jack of spades or jack of clubs. This hand was dubbed a “Blackjack”. The bonus payout was soon abolished, but the name stuck.
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