As we previously glossed over, trying to keep up with all the rules and variants of blackjack during its early years is nearly impossible. Every gambling parlour from California to Milan was free to use whichever rules it wanted. In most places, gambling was still illegal as well. In others, it was largely ‘unofficial’ compared to the regulated casinos we know today.
This did not change until the mid-20th century. At this point, Las Vegas was well on its way to becoming the world capital of gambling. Gaming became less of a shady back-room deal and more of a legitimate business. This, in turn, demanded regulation and standardization. Soon enough, the Nevada Gaming Commission was formed and outlined the first official rules of blackjack.
That’s why most standard blackjack rules are referred to as ‘Vegas-style’. The 60s were a pivotal moment in the history of blackjack – and also its evolution. As the casino industry grew into a multi-million dollar business, the game spread throughout the world.
In short, casinos in the United States are the birthplace of the modern, serious game that we know and love today. That’s why it’s called blackjack in most of the world despite the original popularity of Twenty-One.
Blackjack Evolution – Basic Blackjack Strategy and its Influence
Another seminal moment in blackjack history is the introduction of basic blackjack strategy.
In 1956s, a group of mathematicians and card fans published a paper titled The Optimum Strategy in Blackjack in the Journal of the American Statistical Association. It sounds strange today, but this was a revolutionary concept – using statistics and probability to beat blackjack.
The paper outlined a statistically optimal way to play the game, outlining the perfect move players can make in every possible situation. This is what we know today as blackjack charts or basic blackjack strategy. This concept was further expanded later on, most notably by Ed Thorp in his 1963 book Beat the Dealer.
This spawned a craze among players who were convinced that the strategies would allow them to make millions. Card counting spread like wildfire. More importantly, it forced casinos to adapt by changing the rules. For instance, blackjack was largely played with a single deck up until this point. Because single-deck shoes were too easy to count, casinos started increasing the number of cards in the shoe. Nowadays, 6-deck and 8-deck shoes are standard as a direct result.
Card counting remains a hot-button issue to this day. From debates about its legality to detailed narratives film, media, and books. We have a small collection of blackjack reference material if you want to know more about the topic.
Online & Live Casino Blackjack
Finally, we’ve come to the last leg of our blackjack history overview. As gambling continues to move online, the internet became one of the most popular ways for people to play this fascinating game.
Online blackjack first appeared in the late 90s and early 2000s. However, it failed to truly take off as an RNG-based game. As it turns out, relying on computer calculations instead of actual cards doesn’t quite ‘feel’ right. Besides, most strategies for blackjack go right out the door.
Soon enough, however, live casino blackjack rose to prominence. Combining live streaming technology and interactive gaming with real people dealing real cards, players flocked to live casinos as the “next best thing” to brick-and-mortar casinos.
Furthermore, new variants of the game arose to keep pace with the changing market. For instance, tables on which all the players share a single hand, often called Common Draw or One-to-Many blackjack appeared. The new format also allowed software providers to play around with the rules, introducing new side bets. As time went on, even more exotic variants such as Lightning Blackjack found a lot of success.
So, do you feel ready to experience the marvels of online live blackjack? We sure hope so, because we have a collection of amazing sites to play live blackjack from anywhere in the world! Check out some of the offers below, or refer to our list of top blackjack casinos.