Though Blackjack originated in France, it has been one of the most popular table games in Canada for decades. Originally played as “21”, the game was never as popular in the early Canadian clubs and gambling houses as was poker or craps.
To increase interest in the game, some of the card rooms began to offer higher payouts for certain hands of cards; players who received an ace of spades with a jack of clubs or a jack of spades received a 10:1 bonus. Thereafter the game of 21 became known as blackjack because of those two cards. The game of blackjack remained more or less unchanged until the 1960’s when mathematician Edward Thorpe proved that the house edge could be virtually eliminated. With the help of computers, Thorpe and his colleagues calculated the most advantageous way to play every possible card combination. Based on this research, a set of moves known as basic strategy was developed, and then modified by experts over the years. Basic strategy led casinos to develop countermeasures to control losses, and today you will find slight variations in blackjack rules depending on the casino you are in.
In blackjack your objective is to beat the dealer in one of two ways. You can either accumulate a higher score than the dealer without going over 21, or sit on a lower score and hope that the dealer goes over or busts. All face cards (jacks, queens, kings) are given the value of 10, and an ace is worth either one or 11, depending on how you want to use it in your hand. Subsequently, any hand that contains an ace that is valued as 11 is called a soft hand as opposed to a hard hand which does not. The remaining cards are worth their face value. The highest hand in the game is a blackjack or a natural, which is a two-card hand that totals 21. The player’s hand can not be beat unless the dealer also has a blackjack, which in this case is called a push or a tie. Three or more cards totaling 21 may have the same value but do not beat out a natural 21.
The blackjack table in a casino is set up with five to seven betting spots with a dealer that acts for the house behind the table. The seat at the far left of the table is referred to as third base because it is the last seat to receive a card. Each table should have a plastic placard advertising the table.