From Julius Caesar to Napoleon – The Wild Roots of Blackjack
The story behind the ever so popular game of Blackjack has been heavily debated all throughout history. The stories are as many as the tattoos on David Beckham. Well, that might be a slight exaggeration but you get the drift. As with everything else in this world, good or bad, there are many people that “know for sure” and want to take credit for something they have nothing to do with.
Let’s take a peek and see what theories are floating around, perhaps we can get to the bottom of it, only time will tell.
It All Started in Seville, Spain
Some historians tend to believe blackjack was partly developed from a Spanish card game, referred to in a book by the man who brought us the story of Don Quixote, Migues de Cervantes. Unfortunately, it wasn’t this legendary character that was skinning people due to his superb card skills. Instead, the game was referred to in one of Cervantes’s other books, called Rinconete y Cortadillo. The story goes, in this book about gamblers and cheaters in the Spanish city of Seville, Cervantes mentions the game “Veintiuna”, meaning twenty-one in the native tongue. The game was played much in a similar way as today, so could the Spanish be the ones that deserve the credit? We still don’t know, but it’s a good start.
Inspired by the Roman Empire
What would a mystery surrounding the origin of something so great be without the consideration of the ever so proud people of the Roman empire? The Romans have played a part in so many things and love to take credit for other things that maybe they weren’t so involved in as well. They are a proud group through all generations and so they should be, as pride is what makes them so great, both in a serious way as well as in a more comedic Italian stereotype.
History does show that early Romans loved gambling and had their own version of 21, where they used wooden blocks with numbers on them. Considering the world’s first casino opened in Venice, Italy in 1638, are the people of the great Julius Caesar the brilliant minds behind this entertaining card game after all?
Private Games Held at Napoleon’s Place
While we are on the subject of proud people, we simply can’t ignore the French. As the people of France enjoyed casinos in the early 1700s, they as well had their very own version of the game. This game was called “Vingt-et-un,” which also means 21. There are speculations, however, that Vingt-et-un was a very private game in the early days and was enjoyed by many, even Napoleon himself, behind closed doors. This means the game could have been enjoyed even earlier than we first thought.
The Name Blackjack is Born
Regardless of its origin, historians seem to agree on the fact the game spread to North America by French colonists as early as 1900. Sure, the rules varied slightly from today’s game but the basics were still there. When 21 was introduced in America, it took a long time before it managed to create any interests and the casinos offered big bonuses to lure players in.
If the player’s hand included the ace of spades and the blackjack (either clubs or spades) they would payout 10-1. This is also where the name “Blackjack” comes from and this stuck although the massive payout was taken away. We wish you could get paid 10-1 instead of the standard 3:2 during today’s game. Imagine!
Pay Tribute by Winning Big!
Regardless of its origin, the game is still immensely popular today and all we can do is pay tribute to whoever came up with it. It’s exciting, nerve-wracking, and fun all in one. Instead of worrying about the past, let’s hit the tables with the pride of the Romans and the French mixed with the bravery of Don Quixote!