The History of Blackjack

Blackjack is one of the most popular table games at brick-and-mortar and online casinos. Part of the charm is the ease of learning, making blackjack a beginner-friendly game if you pay attention. Unlike slots and roulette, the outcome depends on the player’s skills and luck. While the first two cards are random, subsequent decisions profoundly impact the result.

The game’s biggest asset is the tiny house edge, limiting the casino’s advantage to a mere 0.5% depending on the variation. The stakes are similar when playing blackjack online. While the game’s odds aren’t particularly enticing, a standard win rewards profits in a one-to-one ratio. In contrast, a natural blackjack hand rewards three to two. You can increase the betting value by playing side bets. However, professional gamblers will know that’s a waste of time and money.

So, now that we know a little about the game, it’s time to delve deeper into the history of blackjack!

Online blackjack game

Origin of Blackjack

The history of blackjack remains in mystery, and the origin story is a topic of debate. While a certain faction believes that the game originated in ancient Rome, others oppose the idea based on several facts. If the Romans indeed invented blackjack, it predates paper cards. The only possible theory is etched wood. But there isn’t enough proof to validate the story.

The majority of historians, however, believe that the game originated in France around 1700. As French colonists moved through Europe and reached America, traces of the game’s early form spread far and wide.

Blackjack has come a long way since the early days and will continue to morph in the 21st century as new rules start to form.

Blackjack cards and chips

Growth in Popularity

Going by its French ancestry, locals called blackjack “Vingt-et-Un” in the late 16th/early 17th centuries. Vingt-et-Un translates into English as twenty-one. And some of the most famous players include the French elites at the Royal Courts like Napoleon Bonaparte.

Napoleon was a great fan of Vingt-et-Un and regularly played the game to relax or celebrate after battles. The game’s popularity continued to grow over time as it spread through Europe and America, and the first instance of legalized blackjack can be traced back to 18th century New Orleans.

Fast forward to modern times, blackjack game history evolved significantly when Nevada legalized gambling in the early 1930s. The game grew in popularity to reach the level where it stands today.

Blackjack on a phone screen

Modern Day Blackjack

While the rules of Las Vegas influence most casino games around the world today, blackjack remains relatively unchanged. The only modern touches are due to technological advancements like live dealer gambling and automated shuffling machines.

The most notable change is the game’s evolution from brick-and-mortar to online casinos. Today, you can play a round of blackjack from the comfort of the living room on a smartphone, tablet, or desktop.

The game’s inventors never foresaw the lengths blackjack would travel in the last century. As technology continues to improve, players expect several progressions to kick in the future.

Blackjack players

Top Wins in Blackjack History

Blackjack is fairly popular globally, meaning several people have won significant amounts playing the game over the years. Let’s take a look at the top three biggest wins in blackjack history!

Kerry Packer and the $40 Million Jackpot

Kerry Packer is the biggest blackjack winner in world history. He won a whopping $40 million playing blackjack at the MGM Grand in 1995. The high roller spent a cool $2 million over eight hands and walked away with the pot half an hour later.

Team Bill Kaplan

If you’ve watched the movie “21”, you’ll be surprised to know that it’s based on a true story. Professor Bill Kaplan and his team of 80 students from several American universities won between $50 and $100 million in cash playing blackjack in Atlantic City over several nights. The players allegedly shared the winnings.

UFC Boss Dana White

Dana White isn’t just an enterprising tycoon but a respectful gambler. The UFC boss won a cool $7 million playing blackjack in Las Vegas. The win came off the back of a winning streak, earning him millions over the past couple of months. Unfortunately, his winning streak came at a cost, with several top casinos banning him from their properties.

Blackjack visual

Interesting Facts About Blackjack

Want to know an interesting fact about blackjack? Or maybe three? Let’s see!

Blackjack isn’t the Actual Name of the Game

For those who are not familiar, blackjack is one of the oldest table games in history. The game had different names, such as Vingt-et-Un and Twenty-One, over the years. The term blackjack was first coined in Nevada by the early casinos to entice players to prioritize the two blackjacks, and the rest, as they say, is history.

The Longest Game Lasted 50 Hours

The most interesting fact about blackjack is that a game lasted 51 hours and 33 minutes. Stephen De Raffaele set a new Guinness World Record in 2001 when he dealt cards for two days straight between August 24 and 27 at the Oracle, Malta.

Card Counting is Legal

Counting cards is legal under British, American, and Singaporean laws. However, casinos reserve the right to expel or ban a player.


Blackjack has come a long way since its inception, and the progress shows no signs of slowing down. The history of the game gives us a lot of clues about its transformation. But, don’t get carried away while witnessing centuries of evolution, and have fun!

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Ara Bernier

Author: Ara Bernier
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Ara is a marketing manager currently residing in the city of Marikina in the Philippines. She is outgoing and creative. Her hobbies include fashion, travelling, and taking stunning photos for her Instagram influencer account. Ara’s mission is to help others using her marketing know-how. As a person who has knowledge of how to market herself, Ara knows a thing or two about marketing her client’s company, products, and services.

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