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Black Jack

Black Jack is a gambling game that also uses cards.  It is also known as Twenty One and Vingt Et Un, which is French for twenty one.  Another name occasionally used is Pontoon.  It is the most widely played casino banking game in the world.

The basic rules of the game are fairly simple.  Players add the value of their initial two card hand in order to try and be dealt a twenty one value hand.  If their value is less than twenty one, they may choose to be dealt single cards until they reach twenty one, reach a value that they are happy with for game play, or reach a value that exceeds twenty one.  The winner is the player that holds the hand that has a value of or nearest to twenty one, without exceeding it.  Different casinos play different variations of the game with different table rules.  Black Jack is widely popular partially because it is a mix of chance and skill that is accesible to all levels of card players.  There also has been a great deal of publicity surronding card counting, the ability to calculate the probability of advantages based on the ratio of high cards to low cards, in recent years.  This version of Black Jack should not be confused with the British game of the same name, which is actually a variant of Crazy Eights.

Black Jack’s ancestor is a game called Twenty One, who’s origin is unknown.  The first written reference to this game is in a book of Miguel de Cervantes, who is also the author of the well known novel Don Quixote.  De Cervantes was a gambler himself.  In his book, the characters Rinconete y Cortadillo and his friends, are cheaters who work in Seville.  They are highly skilled at cheating at Twenty One, and the rules of the game described are very similar to the version of Black Jack played today.  Based on this short story it is speculated that the game has been played in Castilia since the beginning of the seventeenth century, and perhaps even earlier.

When Twenty One was first introduced to the United States, its popularity greatly lagged, so gambling houses began offering different kinds of bonus payouts in order to get players to the table.  An example of such a bonus is a ten to one payout if the player’s hand consists of the ace of spades and a black jack.  This hand was called the Black Jack, and the name stuck to the game, giving it it’s modern name.  Today, the term black jack can refer to an ace and any ten value card.

Today, Black Jack has increased immensly in popularity, to the point where it is the most widely played casino game.  In 2002, a Black Jack Hall of Fame was even created, with the induction of seven of the world’s greatest black jack players and a plan to add new players every subsequent year.  Players were chosen based on their records and their use of strategy and skill in the game.

This article was written by Chloe Marine.

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