The Origins of How We Got To 21

The first stories of gambling that have been recounted go way back and there are a few versions of the history of Blackjack.  The only thing that historians all agree on is that the game is very old.

When looking at the origins of Blackjack it is good to begin with the origins of cards.  It is thought that cards were first invented in China or India and it was the Chinese that began the shuffling of cards when they shuffled paper bank notes into their different combinations.  The deck of cards used today to play Blackjack was initially referred to as “French Pack,” which was used later by the English and the Americans.

Italy and Spain

The game of online Blackjack found its way to the US after the French Revolution and strangely enough the game was not as popular as it was in Europe and was not well received.  But as the years went on Blackjack increased in popularity and is now one of the most popular games in the US.

Looking back at the history of Blackjack a game “Trente-un” or Thirty One can be found in the 14th century in Spain.  The objective of Thirty-One was for players to have a hand totalling 31.  The first time any mention of this game was recorded was when a monk, St Bernadine of Siena, from Italy preached a sermon on anti-gambling which led to protests and the burning of cards and backgammon boards.  This game of Twenty-One is also mentioned by Miguel de Cervantes in his book Don Quixote which was published in the 17th century.  One could assume then that it is possible that Blackjack has its origins in France or Spain.


The first known account of Blackjack being played is in a French casino in 1700.  It was then called Vingt-et-Un which means 21.  It is believed that this game has its origins in other French card games, Chemin de Fer and French Ferme.  The rules were very different then, with the dealer being the only player who could double down and included more betting rounds.  This game of Vingt-et-Un became very popular and soon spread to other casinos around the country.

Ancient Civilisations

One version is that the Muslims were the first to make paper tickets into cards with designs on each one.  These cards found their way into countries like Spain and Italy and the designs on the cards were changed.  The men became Kings and it was the French who changed some of the male cards into Queens.  Rome and Greece were considered as more civilised and so it is easy to imagine that Blackjack may have originated here.  It is known that the Romans enjoyed gambling and it is thought that the Romans used to play Blackjack using wooden blocks with number values on them.

Blackjack Today

The Blackjack that Canadian players know today started in 1950 and with developments in technology many researchers started to try out different ways of playing Blackjack to try and figure out how the game works.  This led to much cheating as players developed systems of card counting and other ways of trying to beat the game.  With the advent of online casinos, the game of Blackjack is programmed using a random number generator and this has changed the way Blackjack is played.