Blackjack is the most popular casino table game, with a colorful history and relatively simple rules. But there’s a lot about blackjack you might not know.
First, where did the name of the game originate? When the game of “21” (originally “Vingt-et-Un,” French for “21”) was introduced to the U.S., gambling establishments offered bonus payouts to players to help increase awareness about the game. One of the bonuses paid 10-to-1 if the player’s winning hand contained a black jack (a jack of spades or clubs). The name stuck.
Blackjack tables are interesting in and of themselves. They often have a little mirror used by the dealer to check the “hole card” for a blackjack. The name of that device? They’re called “peekers” or “peepers.”
You may have noticed that discarded cards at a blackjack table are put into a translucent red tray. They’re red for a reason. The red discard trays are a response to cheats who attempt to mark cards with inks or “daubs” in order to track cards and gain an advantage over the casino. Such marks are invisible to the naked eye, but are visible to those wearing special tinted sunglasses or contact lenses. Red discard trays make spotting marked cards easier for dealers and casino security personnel. Who knew?
Did you know the average weight of a playing card is 0.063 of an ounce? Here’s another interesting number: In a standard deck of cards, 30.8 percent of cards have a value of 10.
Blackjack has a vocabulary all its own. A “pitch game” is one dealt by hand by the dealer using one or two decks. A “snapper” is a blackjack, presumably because in face down blackjack games, players “snap” down their cards when they get a blackjack. A blackjack player who’s steaming is one who starts betting erratically because their luck has gone sour (akin to a poker player that goes “on tilt”).
The first written mention of blackjack was in a collection of short stories by Miguel de Cervantes, the Spanish author who also wrote “Don Quixote.”
Did you know there’s a Blackjack Hall of Fame at the Barona Casino in San Diego? The casino offers Blackjack Hall of Fame inductees free rooms, food and drinks for life in exchange for the inductee agreeing to never play at the casino’s tables.
And, finally, guess who was one of history’s biggest blackjack fans? Napoleon Bonaparte. The diminutive dictator played the game regularly, especially after he was exiled.
Now you know!