Unlike some other casino games in Blackjack you compete against the dealer and not other players. This is why it is known as a banking game.
The game relies on the skills of the player and the dealer. The cards you are dealt can be totalled up (each card has a value) and if this is 21 in your first two cards you get a ‘blackjack’ which is a win. If your cards do not total 21 then you can be dealt further cards and count them.
Before Blackjack gambling enthusiast played ‘twenty-one’ which first occurred in Spain in 1602. The object of the game was to reach 21 points without going over. This new game spread to France where French colonialists took the game throughout the continent and across to the US in 1931.
The modern game is based on the notion of card counting. This was a method founded by Edward Thorp who published a book called ‘Beat the Dealer’ in 1962. Thorp’s method of play was based on a single-deck of cards and became the most popular form of Blackjack played in the USA. Thorp’s techniques can be seen in the USA hit movie Rain Man, where Raymond (Dustin Hoffman), an autistic man is able to win at blackjack by counting cards.
Edward Thorp himself is commonly referred to as the godfather of counting after he won $11,000 (£7,500) or £111,500 in today’s economy, in one weekend back in the 1970’s. His achievements have earned him a spot in the Blackjack Hall of Fame.
Initially to get people into US casinos to play the new game people were offered bonus pay-outs, for example a 10 to 1 pay-out if the players hand consisted of an Ace of Spades.
Casino’s now hold tournaments for blackjack players. Players are given equal number of chips and the winner is decided via a process of elimination after several rounds.
Casino’s are not the only place to play blackjack. Video blackjack is extremely popular as it is harder to card count. Electronic consoles serve the hand of cards to the player virtually.
Another modern day variant of blackjack is the TV show ‘The Price is Right’. Aired from 1980-2006 this extremely popular show asked contestants to play a form of grocery blackjack. In this game, six grocery products were used, and five of those products’ prices were multiplied by various numbers from 2 to 10, with the one remaining product having the exact price. In order to win a large prize, the contestant had to achieve a score of 21 (which was usually done by picking a product whose price was multiplied by ten and the one that was correctly priced), or beat the house with any score that did not exceed 21.