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Blackjack is one of the most popular gambling games ever invented. It is played in live casinos and also online, but how did this card game get its name? Why is blackjack called blackjack? The answer to this question may surprise you.

21 Comes to America

The card game 21 made its way to America many years ago. It is believed to have originated in France where it was known as vingt et un, the French word for the number 21. The number is significant, of course. In the game of blackjack players are trying to make a total of 21 or as close to that total as they can get without going over.


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The gambling halls of the west in the United States weren’t filled with many men who knew how to speak French, so the game came to be known simply as 21 in the US. At the time the most popular gambling card game in the saloons was poker. The gambling halls couldn’t make much money off of that game, so they wanted 21 to become the preferred way to gamble with cards.

It was necessary to promote the game. To do that the gambling halls decided to offer a bonus payout. The bonus could be claimed when a player made a total of 21 with an ace and either a jack of spades or a jack of clubs. These were the two black jacks in the deck. Soon it was no longer necessary to promote the game to players, but the nickname stuck. 21 would forever become known as blackjack in America.

Today in the game an ace and one of the black jacks is called a natural. Some people often wonder why the two black jacks were chosen for the promotion. Perhaps it is because “red jack” doesn’t quite have the same ring to it as blackjack.

Other Things Called a Blackjack

The name blackjack is most popularly understood as a name for the game of 21, but there are other things that are called blackjack. One of these is the short, leather-covered club that was often carried by policemen in the early 20th century. The weapon is still used to day for protection by many individuals. The name blackjack has come to define any short club made of any material whether it is covered in leather or not.

In the eastern US there is a small oak tree that is covered in black bark. This tree is known as a blackjack. A type of weed that grows wild is called blackjack, and there was also a very popular brand of chewing gum that was named blackjack.

Other things given the name of blackjack include a drinking cup. A mineral that is a member of the sphalerite family is also known as blackjack. It is a very common symbol, however, that earns the right to be the second most popular use of the word blackjack. It is a part of history and a part of legend that has been immortalized alongside names like Blackbeard and the Jolly Roger. It is the skull and bones that is found on the flag that was flown from many pirate ships.

It may even be that pirates played some version of the game of 21. Wouldn’t that be something? They would have no way of knowing that the name of their flag would also become the name of the popular gambling game.

The Irony of the Name Blackjack

In casinos today it is very popular to promote the game of blackjack by creating variations of the game that are designed to attract new players. Most of these variations involve blackjack side bets that are not very favorable to the player. A player can win a bonus when they hit one of these difficult bets.

The old gambling halls in the west were doing the same thing. They were promoting the game in an effort to get people to play by offering a bonus that was hard to hit. The only difference is that the saloons were not requiring players to make a side bet in order to win the bonus payout.

Wouldn’t it be cool today if players could receive a bonus payout just for making a blackjack? There would be no need to make an extra bet. All the player would need to do is just make their standard bet and they would qualify for the bonus.

You can qualify for a casino bonus when you make a cash deposit at one of our recommended online casinos. You can also take advantage of real blackjack games online for real money with a computer or mobile device.

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