Just like everything else in life, blackjack also went through its own respective evolution phases. It’s difficult to tell exactly when and where the first blackjack game was ever played, but if we look back into the history of card games, we may notice many other card games that had amazing similarities with blackjack. These games can help us trace-back blackjack’s actual history in a more efficient way. Let’s throw light on few of these games below:
A game popularly known as vingt-et-un or vingt-un, it used to be extensively played during the early to middle-17th century era in France. This was the first-ever 21 card game to have ever been played by the mankind.
As in case of blackjack, the main objective of this game was to get to the 21 figure without going bust. It started out as a private game initially as casinos refuse to bank it. The players used to take turns as dealers and bank the game on their own. Whenever played in a casino, the establishment would take a percentage cut from the dealer’s winnings.
Following were some of the important vingt-un rules:
- An ace used to be counted as 11 or 1
- Players used to be allowed to bet in every round
- Any player having a natural 21 used to be paid at 2:1
- Only the dealer used to be allowed to double
- Every time a dealer got a natural 21, everyone would pay him triple
If historians are to be believed, the card game vingt-un became hugely popular during the mid-18th century. In fact, notable public figures like Madame Du Barry, Louis XV’s mistress and Napoleon, the emperor used to play the game.
An interesting card game that preceded vingt-un, quinze was also a game that had its origins in France and Spain. In quinze one had to reach the figure of 15 and not 21. Just like vingt-un, this game was also never banked by the house. So, it were players who used to deal the cards.
This game had many similarities to the new age blackjack, but with one major difference that the players weren’t required to declare their bust if they exceeded the 15 value. They could wait until the dealer was done playing. Any player who used to go bust prior to the dealer didn’t lose his/her bets.
Some of the important aspects of this game made it highly interesting psychologically. To begin, there was no compulsion on the dealer to play by the house rules, and the players weren’t required to declare their busts. Resultantly, it wasn’t uncommon for players to try to hide their weak or strong hands. In fact, aristocratic players used to wear masks while playing quinze, in order to cover-up their emotions.
Sette e Mezzo
A popular card game of Italian origin, Sette e Mezzo is the Italian for seven and a half. This game used to be played mostly during the 17th century. It had many similarities to the blackjack and vingt-un, and its main aim used to score seven and a half without going bust. A 40 card deck, with all 8s, 9s and 10s removed, used to be employed for playing this game.
Sette e Mezze was different from quinze in the manner that the players busting prior to the dealer couldn’t keep their bets. The whole idea used to be tricking the dealer into making some poor strategic moves.