Blackjack Information

Blackjack, also known as Twenty-one, Vingt-et-un , or Pontoon, is the most widely played casino banking game in the world. The standard game is played with one or more Anglo-American decks containing 52 cards. The basic rules of the game involve adding the value of an initial two card hand in hopes of being dealt a value of twenty-one. If a value of less than twenty-one is dealt, the player may choose to be dealt single cards until they either reach a value of twenty one, reach a value they feel comfortable to play, or reach a value that exceeds twenty-one. The winner holds a hand with a value of, or nearest to, twenty-one without exceeding it. The game is played in many variations at casinos with different table rules. Much of blackjack's popularity is due to the mix of chance, skill, and the publicity that surrounds card counting . The casino game should not be confused with the British card game Black Jack.

Blackjack's precursor was "twenty-one", a game of unknown origin. The first written reference is found in a book of Miguel de Cervantes, most famous for writing Don Quixote, among other works. Cervantes was a gambler himself, and the main characters of his tale "Rinconete y Cortadillo", from "Novelas Ejemplares", are a couple of cheaters working in Seville. They are proficient at cheating at "ventiuna" , and state that the object of the game is to reach 21 points without busting and that the Ace values 1 or 11. The game is played with the Spanish Baraja, which is without eights, nines and tens. This short story was written between 1601 and 1602, so the game was played in Castilia since the beginning of the 17th Century or earlier. Later references to this game are found in France and Spain.

When 21 was introduced in the United States it was not popular, so gambling houses tried offering various bonus payouts to get the players to the tables. One such bonus was a 10-to-1 payout if the player's hand consisted of the ace of spades and a black Jack . This hand was called a "blackjack" and the name stuck to the game, even though the bonus payout was soon abolished. In the modern game, a "natural" or "blackjack" is simply an ace plus a ten-value card.

Wikipedia, Blackjack, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blackjack (as of Apr 2, 2010)

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