Blackjack. Ban Luck. Pontoon. Tooki-tooki.
Okay so I made that last one up, but aside from that, all these names refer to the same game: 21.
Whatever you call the game, you’ve probably played it once or twice before.
For those who don’t know, the rules of the game are pretty simple:
Bring a little hope and lots of cash and lose them both at the end.
Blackjack is a comparing card game between one or more players and a dealer, where each player takes turns to compete against the dealer.
The aim of the game is to beat the dealer by getting a count as close to 21 as possible, without going over 21.
The game is commonly played during holidays such as Chinese New Year, where loving families come together to shout and quarrel with each other over vague rules.
While you’ve probably played Blackjack hundreds of times before, there may be quite a few things you don’t know about the popular game.
Here are 10 interesting facts about Blackjack, the game you’re likely playing right now.
It is One of the Oldest Gambling Games in Existence
Where Blackjack originated is still under debate, but some researchers believe it was first played in French casinos around 1700.
The game then was called “Vingt-et-Un,” which translates to “Twenty-one.”
However, the earliest mention of Blackjack is in Miguel de Cervantes’ novel Don Quixote, which was published in 1605.
In the book, a couple of swindlers are said to be proficient in veintiuna, which is Spanish for 21.
What’s more, the book states that the object of veintiuna is to reach 21 points without going over and that Aces have a value of 1 or 11.
Blackjack isn’t its Original Name
When the first casinos in Nevada offered Blackjack to its visitors, they needed something to entice players into taking up the offer.
After all, it was just another gambling game.
So, they offered a bonus of an instant 10 to 1 payout if a player’s hand consisted of the ace of spades and a black jack (either the jack of clubs or the jack of spades).
This caused players to prioritise the two black jacks, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Napolean Was a Big Fan of the Game
Blackjack is popular with all sorts of folks, even French military generals from the 18th century.
Napoleon Bonaparte, the famed military leader and emperor of France, was reportedly a huge fan of Vingt-et-Un (21).
Rumour has it that he regularly played the game as a means of relaxing and celebrating after a battle.
The Longest Game of Blackjack Lasted Over 50 Hours
Believe it or not, the longest time spent dealing with Blackjack is 51 hours 33 minutes.
According to the Guinness World Records, Stephen De Raffaele dealt cards for over two days between 24–27 August 2001 at the Oracle Casino, Qawra, Malta.
Four Maths Majors With Masters Degrees Published a Paper on the Best Strategy for Blackjack
In 1953, four soldiers in the US army sat down to play Poker. When one of them suggested Blackjack, it got the rest of the group thinking.
See, these four men just happened to all be mathematics majors holding Masters degrees from prestigious universities.
Armed with machine-like skills, they set out to ascertain the most mathematically sound and optimal strategy for Blackjack.
And after two years, they published their findings in the paper “The Optimum Strategy in Blackjack”.
The paper was published in the Journal of the American Statistical Association.
Your Chances of Getting a Natural Blackjack are Just 4.8%
Unlike our cash, hope is in large supply when we begin a game of Blackjack.
But, even though we pray for a natural blackjack every round, our chances of getting one in a single deck are just 4.8%.
This is equivalent to about 1 in 21 blackjack hands!
Counting Cards is Legal
Under British, American, and even Singaporean law, card counting is not actually illegal.
For the unacquainted, card counting refers to a strategy in Blackjack where a player keeps a mental tally of the cards played in order to calculate the probability of certain cards being dealt and therefore obtain an advantage.
In Macau, the gambling capital of the world, casinos do not technically prohibit card counting but casinos reserve the right to expel or ban any customers, as is the case in the US and Britain, and probably Singapore.
In all casinos, however, the use of electronic devices to aid such strategies is not permitted and can land you in legal trouble.
You Can’t Count Cards Online
If you play Blackjack on your phone regularly and are thinking of learning card counting, forget it.
You can’t count cards online, because the deck is constantly shuffled.
For card counting to work, the cards that are dealt have to be gone from the deck. If they’re just shuffled back into the deck before the next hand is played, the count starts over again at 0.
Since you’re playing with a fresh deck at every hand, there’s no advantage to be gained from counting cards.
16 is Said to Be The Worst Hand in Blackjack
As everyone who’s ever played Blackjack knows, 16 is a rather troublesome hand, and is said to be the worst hand one can have in the game.
That’s because players are usually afraid to “hit” as they might exceed 21 and bust. On the other hand, if they choose to stay with their 16, it’s typically not enough to beat the dealer.
Statistically, the Dealer Will Bust Almost a Third of All Hands
It may seem like the dealer is emptying everyone’s wallets and purses into their own bank account, but statistically speaking, they will bust almost a third of their hands, or 29.1%, to be exact.
However, one can argue that dealers have a certain edge over you because you have to beat them, but they have no obligation to beat you.
At the end of the day, however, playing Blackjack is all about letting off some steam, and hopefully winning a little money along the way.
Whatever your strategy is to beat your relatives at Ban Luck, please remember to gamble responsibly.
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