Of all the games in the casino, Blackjack is the most memorable. This classic game is still going strong today, and besides serving as an inspiration for movies and music, it’s a favorite with casino players all across the globe.
This cool and sophisticated game is much more than a casino pastime, however. Its history is rich and spans continents as well as centuries.
Read on to discover ten fascinating facts about this much-loved card game.
- Blackjack winners win big
Professional casino player Don Johnson (no, not that one), made blackjack history in 2011 when he won a total of $15 million over five months playing blackjack at Atlantic City casinos. His first win at the Tropicana in December 2010 netted him a total of $5 million, an astounding amount in itself that he quickly followed up with wins of $5 million at the Borgata and $4 million at Caesar’s Palace. At one stage during his blackjack adventure, he was even wagering $800,000 per hand, forcing the dealer to go bust.
- Blackjack has its fair share of celebrity players
Although celebrity card players are often linked to the game of poker, blackjack has also pulled in rich and famous, many of which are long-term die-hard fans.
Ben Affleck and Matt Damon fly the flag for Hollywood at the blackjack tables, while rappers 50 Cent and Jay-Z represent the hip hop world. Just last year, Jay-Z hosted a blackjack tournament gala for the Shawn Carter Foundation. Meanwhile, 50 Cent has even commissioned his own blackjack gaming app, imaginatively titled 50 Cent’s Blackjack.
- Blackjack is over 400 years old
Here in the 21st Century, online blackjack is a mainstay of iGaming platforms across the globe, but this thoroughly modern game can actually be traced all the way back to the 1600s.
Before the genius Spanish novelist, Miguel de Cervantes penned Don Quixote, he released a short story, Rinconete y Cortadillo, in the early 1600s. The story followed the adventures of two casino gamers in Seville, and one of their favorites was a precursor to the blackjack we know today – Ventiuna (Twenty-One)
- Blackjack has the lowest House Edge of all casino games
The house edge of a wager is essentially the profit that a casino can make over hundreds of bets. A blackjack variant that offers a standard 3 to 2 payoff has a House Edge of under 1%, while some games even have a house edge of under 0.3%. If you compare it with the game of roulette that has a house edge of around 3%, you’ll quickly realize why blackjack is so popular among gamers.
- Card Counting is a real system
The practice of card counting has developed alongside the rise in popularity of blackjack throughout the centuries, but in 1962 it finally became a proven system. That year, Ed Thorp released Beat the Dealer, a seminal work that mathematically proved the house edge in blackjack could be beaten by counting cards.
- Card Counting is not illegal
Card counting may be a frustrating process for casinos to deal with, but contrary to popular assumptions the practice itself isn’t actually illegal. After all, at its essence, it’s simply adding and subtracting numbers.
That doesn’t mean, however, that casinos will make card counting easy. Some venues in gaming meccas like Las Vegas or Macau will actually ask players to remove themselves from the blackjack table if they’re suspected of counting cards.
- The aim of blackjack is to beat the dealer
The number 21 is synonymous with blackjack in the casino, but the aim of the game isn’t actually to get to 21, it’s to beat the dealer by getting as close to that number as possible without going over. And since it’s a game between you and the dealer, any decisions that other players at the table make will not affect your odds or strategy.
- Blackjack has its very own Hall of Fame
Like many a pop culture phenomenon, this humble casino game has its own Hall of Fame. Located in the Barona Casino in San Diego, California, it was founded in 2002 and has since inaugurated blackjack legends like Ed Thorpe, Stanford Wong, and of course, Don Johnson.
- Blackjack even has its own annual Ball
Every year, since 1997, elite names in the blackjack world gather together in a secret location to celebrate the annual Blackjack Ball, hosted by gaming expert, Max Rubin. This is not just a good ol’ fashioned knees up, however, the ball actually tests the mettle of the greatest blackjack players in the world as they compete for the much-coveted Grosjean Cup.
- Not every player in the world-famous MIT Blackjack Team was an MIT student
The escapades of the MIT Blackjack team in Massachusetts, Boston inspired the hit movie 21, which starred Kevin Spacey and Laurence Fishburne, but the name itself is actually a misnomer. Over the years there have been multiple MIT “teams”, but not all of the players were current or former MIT students.