The Origin of the Name Blackjack

Blackjack is a widely played, well-known card game. However, many people play this card game without thinking much about the reason why it is called blackjack. Today, people play online blackjack for money or fun across the globe. 

But, when and how did this game come to be known as blackjack? Answering this question requires you to go back to blackjack history. Nevertheless, this research takes reveals why and how this card game became so popular, especially at online casinos. 

The Origin of Blackjack 

Most researchers agree that blackjack is an evolution of an early game called twenty-one. However, the origin of twenty-one is unknown and somewhat controversial. According to some historians, this version of the card game originated in the Roman Era. At this time, players used wooden blocks to denote numbers. However, this has not been properly confirmed. 

Miguel de Cervantes wrote a Spanish story titled Rinconete y Cortadillo, which was published alongside other Novelas ejemplares in 1613. This story marks the earliest documented reference of twenty-one card games. It’s believed that this story was written in 1601 or 1602. 

This author was a gambler, and he mentions 2 card cheats that worked in Seville. These were adept cheats who played the Spanish twenty-one card game called Veintiuna. He also mentions that the game’s objective is to hit 21 points without going over with the Aces valued as 1 or 11. 

This story shows that gamblers played this game in the Castle region as early as in the 17th century. Some published works referred to this story in France and Spain. However, it’s not known how far the game dates back in history. 

But it’s believed that people played twenty-one in French casinos around the beginning of the 18th century. The used format of twenty-one was the French version called Vingt-et-un. This combined the elements of popular card games like Chemin de fer and Veintiuna

The popularity of this game kept growing and it was even played during King Louis XV’s reign at the Royal Court. Alternative versions of this game started to emerge in Europe including Quinze in France, Trente-Un in Spain, and Sette e Mezzo in Italy.

Blackjack Appeal in America 

The French colonists brought the twenty-one card game to North America in the 18th century. It also gained popularity in the Atlantic and was even played in different gambling halls in New Orleans around 1820. The appeal of this game hit the national level largely because of Eleanor Dumont. It is believed that this French woman moved to Nevada City in 1854. She was a skilled and experienced card dealer that opened her gambling parlor known as Vingt-et-un in the cit. She quickly gained popularity as a woman dealer that drew gamblers from distant places. 

Her appearance made people nickname her Madame Moustache. Unfortunately, Eleanor died in 1879.  However, the number and popularity of casinos where this game was played continued to grow into the 20th century. This raised the twenty-one profile further. 

How the Name Blackjack Displaced Twenty-One  

The precise point in history when the name blackjack displaced twenty-one is yet to be established. However, the rules of twenty-one were slowly developed in the 20th century to produce what is known as blackjack today. 

Some historians say that the name blackjack emerged during World War I among the casinos that offered lucrative payouts and players that won with the initial Ace of Spades hand and a “black” Jack. Black Jack was the Jack of Spades or Clubs. Essentially, the objective was to get the “Black Jack.” 

Thus, the origin of the name blackjack can be traced back to the USA gambling establishments that featured bonus payouts aimed at promoting this game. One of the bonus payouts involved the special 10 to 1 bonus that a player’s hand was awarded for being an ace of spades and a “black Jack” or jack of clubs or spades. 

Although this bonus eventually disappeared, the name that this card combination was given remained behind. And, it is still the name of one of the most popular card games that are played in land-based and online casinos today.