Why is blackjack played to 21?

Blackjack’s history dates back many centuries, but its origins remain hotly debated among historians. We take a deeper look into the game’s rich evolution into the popular casino card game it is today.

Why 21 is called blackjack

The earliest known mention of the term ‘twenty-one’ was in a book written by Miguel de Cervantes, widely regraded as the greatest Spanish writer and one of the world’s leading novelists.

His book references the game ‘twenty-one’ (‘Veintiuna’ in Spanish) and is called Ronconete y Cortadillo. It is all about gambling and cheaters in Seville. The short story was originally published in 1613.

Cervantes, the author of one of the most influential works of literature from the Spanish Golden Age and the entire collection of Spanish literature (Don Quixote), talks about in Ronconete y Cortadillo that the game of ‘Veintiuna’ is played without the ten-valued cards (akin to the modern day’s Spanish 21), and that the Aces are worth either one or 11 points (one of the most important rules to modern blackjack).

Popular card games in France during the early 1700s called Chemin de Fer and French Ferme are understood to have resembled current day blackjack to an extent, and they would have helped to evolve a game known as Vingt-et-Un, which is French for twenty-one and was also played during the early 1700s in many casinos.

Another game popular at this time, in Spain, was known as One and Thirty, and is also understood to have influenced the game of blackjack which we know today. In this game, the objective was to reach a total of 31 using three cards.

In the 1900s, the game of Vingt-et-Un spread to North America via the French colonists and it became increasingly popular.

However, gamblers began to realise the game was not offering sufficiently enticing payouts, and so its popularity stagnated for a while.

The state of Nevada chose to legalise gambling in 1931 and changed the odds of the game by offering a payout of 10 to 1 for being dealt a hand which achieved a total points value of 21, but it had to be made up of a black Jack (Jack of Spades or Jack of Clubs) and an Ace.

This is how the name blackjack came to stick.

This new rule saw an exponential leap in popularity for the game, and while casinos did not continue to offer these odds for such a long time, other exciting variations began to arise, and interest levels were maintained and even raised.

It was the introduction of the 52-card deck along with different variations of the game being played and gaining popularity throughout history, which helped to continuously evolve the game of blackjack into the famous card game we have come to love.

And it is still evolving to this day, with a large amount of variants available to play in many land based casinos across the world, and even more variations available to play within the interactive realm of gambling, with online and mobile casino sites hosting blackjack titles you would never find at brick and mortar gambling venues.

Online casino sites with best blackjack games

Having spread to the Internet in the 20th and 21st centuries, blackjack has become one the world’s most popular gambling titles and is recognised across the globe.

In Australia, each state and territory boast several forms of blackjack across their casinos, including classic blackjack, Pontoon and Spanish 21.

But for Australians looking to expand their blackjack horizons, it is worth entering the interactive world of real money gaming – browse through the below listed casino sites to enjoy a collection of the highest quality variations of 21 you will come across:

  • Royal Vegas Casino – powered by Microgaming
  • G’day Casino – powered by White Hat Gaming
  • Casino-Mate – powered by Microgaming
  • Guts Casino – powered by multiple different gaming software designers

These Internet based casinos, all licensed and regulated by registered gaming governing commissions and independent testing agencies (and legal for all Australians aged 18 years and older to access and enjoy with real money), offer lower house edges, better odds and more variety for the player, as the operators have little to no overheads to worry about (unlike land based venues).

Many blackjack games boast house edges well below one per cent. Some of the most commonly played online and mobile blackjack titles include:

  • European Blackjack
  • American Blackjack
  • Atlantic City
  • Vegas Strip
  • Vegas Downtown
  • Spanish 21
  • Pirate 21
  • Bonus Blackjack
  • Perfect Pairs Blackjack
  • Multi Hand Blackjack
  • Big Five Blackjack
  • Blackjack Players Choice
  • 21 Burn Blackjack
  • Blackjack Sixth Sense
  • Super 7 Blackjack
  • Hi Lo 13 Blackjack
  • High Streak Blackjack
  • Blackjack Pro 3 Hands
  • Single Deck Blackjack

And many more, including a range of hot, live dealer blackjack titles, operated by professionally trained dealers using real casino equipment (live games are hosted in regulated studios and streamed in high definition to your screens, so you can partake in the game, place AUD wagers and interact with real people for an authentic gaming experience).

Ensure you make the most of the new player welcome bonuses upon registration and your first real money deposit, at the recommended gaming websites (globally trusted and secure banking methods for Australians are available).

From humble beginnings, the game of 21 has evolved to become a high octane, enthralling and strategic game of luck and skill, and you can enjoy it for real AUD money on your desktop, laptop, mobile and tablet devices.