Casino Gambling: Blackjack

180px-BlackjackBlackjack came to the United States in the 19th century. It is derived from the French game vingt-et-un or twenty and one. Blackjack’s widespread popularity is likely related to the simplicity of the game.

From the 1850’s to 1910 gambling was legal, however, believe it or not, from 1910 to 1931 gambling was illegal in Nevada. Nevada finally decided to legalize gambling in casinos and blackjack became one of the most popular casino card games in the world.

Several people tried to teach others how to strategize playing blackjack, thus winning more.

Roger Baldwin published a paper titled “The Optimum Strategy in Blackjack”, explaining how to reduce the house advantage by using probability and statistics. Edward O. Thorp published “Beat the Dealer“. He refined the strategy in Edward Thorps paper and developed the first card counting technique, a skill with which players can turn the odds of the game in their favor by making betting decisions based on the values of the cards known to remain in the deck. The technique shifted the advantage from ~5% for the house, to around a percent or so for the player.

Everyone wanted to try out Edward Thorps strategy and began frequenting casinos to implement it. This caused many casinos to change their Blackjack rules because they feared losing money to the players, thus causing players to cease playing blackjack. This in turn made casinos change the rules back.

Beat the Dealer, has gone through many changes and modernization, several people have updated and revised the popular book. This book ended up making more money for casinos as more people played blackjack as a result of the book.

The most common type of Blackjack is played with one or two decks. The game is played by the Dealer dealing 1 card face down and 1 card face up. The goal of every player is to reach 21 or as close to it without going over. If any player has an ace and any ten value card (10, J, Q, K) they have Blackjack and are automatic winners. The play proceeds with players taking cards from the dealer until they either bust (go over 21), reach it, or are as close as they want to try to be. The goal is to beat the dealer. The dealer MUST stay at 17 or higher. The dealer MUST hit at 16 or lower. You can have a push which is having a hand equal to that of the dealer. If the dealer gets a blackjack all other players lose automatically.