Blackjack’s Interesting Facts
If there is one game that is both cool and sophisticated at the same time, it’s blackjack. Known to players in online and land-based casinos alike, this card game staple has lived through more than just one reinvention of itself – especially considering that early forms of blackjack have been on the gambling scene since as early as the 16th century! With such an extensive rap sheet, it should be no surprise that the famed 21 hosts a number of quirks, intriguing facts and peculiarities. We’ll dedicate this page to presenting you blackjack’s interesting facts and curiosities, whether from history, playing techniques or incredible blackjack-related feats.
At its core, blackjack is a numbers game. It’s clear not only from the objective, but also the way players assess winning chances based on careful observation and planning and swiftly calculated risks as they play. So, let’s keep numbers in the spotlight as we unpack the what hides in this intriguing gambling world and take a look at some of the most jarring blackjack statistics that might help you wrap your head around some of the main gameplay concepts and put your current knowledge into perspective.
The House Edge Is Only 1% (or Less)
Unlike many popular casino games, whose RTP rates move between 92% and 99%, blackjack can have an extraordinarily high return rate thanks to a very slim house edge. Classic blackjack, as well as most of its variants, have a house edge that stays under 1%, with variants like Blackjack Switch having an RTP as high at 99.87% thanks to the favourable possibility to switch cards between your two hands for a better number outcome. If you’re a regular player, this info won’t surprise you. However, many people don’t realise the RTP power of this card game, opting for more obviously-presented RTPs in other games.
Streaks Are (Statistically) Difficult to Achieve
We’ve all heard of a winning or losing streak. It’s a common phrase in the gambling world but, statistically speaking, we’ll have to burst your bubble when it comes to blackjack. Despite popular opinion and superstitions, hitting a good or bad streak is a mere old wives’ tale, probably spun out of thin air to give some embellishment to the humdrum area of mathematical probability. Out of the three possible outcomes, win, lose or tie (push), you’ve got a roughly 50% chance of losing and a 42% chance of winning, with 8% being the likelihood of a push. Consequently, reaching several back-to-back wins gets more difficult with each hand, not to mention the fact that the actual mathematical chances of any outcome may even debunk some fringe blackjack strategies. In short, the likelihood of having seven wins in a row is a mere 0.99% – so don’t hold your breath.
The Dealer Will Bust Nearly a Third of All Hands
The beauty of blackjack lies in the delicate balance between hitting that desired 21 and going bust after taking a risk, and both of these outcomes may strike the player and the dealer equally. Numbers don’t discriminate, and, much like on a see-saw, your chance to be up hinges somewhat on the dealer’s chance to be down. In fact, examining blackjack statistics, a dealer will go bust on nearly one third of his or her hands, 29.1%, to be precise, when standing on soft 17. The dealer’s chance of going bust decreases as the value of the up-card increases, meaning seeing a two puts the dealer at roughly 35% chance of busting, while a visible ace means there’s a 17% chance.
The Odds of a Blackjack with a Single Deck Are 1 in 20.7
For those who prefer playing with a single deck, it might be worth mentioning that your chances of landing a blackjack are rather slim. First off, with a game of Single Hand Blackjack you’re looking at a 4/52 chance of getting an ace as your first card. Once that is settled, you have a 16/51 chance of getting a 10-point card. In other words, there are 52 possible first cards and 51 possible second cards. Between these two possibilities, there are 2,652 card combinations, out of which, 128 combinations consist of an ace and a 10-point card. Put together 128 over 2,652, you’re looking at rounded up 4.8% chance of landing a blackjack.
A 31% Chance of a Blackjack When the Dealer Has an Ace
Going hand-in-hand with our section on how often dealers go bust, the estimated chance for the dealer to get a blackjack is 1 in 3, or 31%, when his/her up-card is an ace. That means you should tread carefully when thinking of your next step, and re-think any possible plans to double-down in that situation. With such odds, we’d advise not to take the risk!
Unless you’re an astrophysicist, mathematician or the Count from Sesame Street, the chances are you don’t love talking about numbers all day. So, let us switch to a more anecdotal side of blackjack – even though the numbers do indeed play a big role in this fantastic game of luck. There’s a lot to this famous game, and its development is replete with curious details and interesting historical facts. Let’s dive in.
Blackjack Is Played All Over the World
While some blackjack’s interesting facts are not a total shocker, some may just come as a surprise to even the most dedicated player. For instance, did you know that the famed Spanish writer Miquel de Cervantes already referenced a blackjack-like game called the ‘Veintiuna’ in the early 1600s, not to mention Cervantes’ main literary hero Don Quixote was a blackjack player. Making its way from Spain to France and around Europe, blackjack followed-up with an expansion to North America. There, the game needed a bit of initial push as punters weren’t that keen on it at first. And that’s where one of the biggest twists in blackjack trivia happened – gaming houses started offering a 10 to 1 payout on card combinations consisting of an ace and a “black jack”, lending the legendary name to the game.
Elsewhere, the European colonisation period brought blackjack to the masses all around Australasia, contributing to the already thriving gambling markets in Macau, Philippines, Singapore, Korea and Malaysia, in addition to New Zealand and Australia. As of today, blackjack is played in 140 countries worldwide. Now that’s a popularity status!
Napoleon Loved Blackjack
An early form of blackjack called “Vignt-et-un” started making the rounds across France in the 18th century, even reaching as far as the royal courts and becoming a staple among elites like King Louis XV’s mistress! As history would have it, none other than Napoleon Bonaparte, the famed military leader and emperor of France, got his hands on the en vogue game and ended up being a massive fan for years! Though it wasn’t until his infamous exile on Elba when he really got to perfect his blackjack skills with hours-long playing – rumour has it that, up until then, he forbade card games among his soldiers since he believed them to be a distraction. No army? No problem!
There Is a Blackjack Hall of Fame
It should be no surprise that, with such a legacy, blackjack would earn its own Hall of Fame for devoted fans, famed gamblers, game experts and authors. And what better excuse to visit the fantastic city of San Diego in southern California? The Hall of Fame is located inside the Barona Resort and Casino, one of the many Native American casinos. While it’s surely nice to visit, just keep in mind that the inductees at the Blackjack Hall of Fame can enjoy lifetime-long comp for lodging, food and drinks at the Barona and that under one condition – that they never play at the casino’s tables.
Discard Trays Can Help Catch Cheats
We’re positive that none of the Hall of Fame inductees would cheat their way to a blackjack win (wink, wink), but surely that knowledge doesn’t stop many other players from trying to pull a number on the casino coffers. Luckily the house itself has a handy trick up its sleeve called the discard tray, seen here in red. Some are taller, some are short, some have four walls, some just two. In any case, it’s a helpful tool, indeed.
Why the colour? To spot the cheaters, of course! You see, some blackjack bad boys use a special kind of ink to mark cards – an ink that is invisible to the naked eye. Looked at through a red-tinted contact lens, however, the ink becomes visible. Putting cards in a similarly-coloured discard tray will expose the crooks and hustlers in no-time, giving the dealer a chance to…um…deal with them appropriately.
Why Is It Called ‘The Shoe’?
Another trusty tool used on blackjack tables worldwide is the so-called ‘shoe’ – a plastic case (sometimes also in red) that houses multiple decks of playing cards before it’s their turn to be dealt. A crucial difference to just having stacks of cards lying about is that cards inside the shoe are already shuffled, meaning there’s no time wasted on shuffling each deck separately when the time comes. It’s also a way to increase transparency – especially if you’re distrustful of the dealers and think he/she may cheat.
The First Continuous Shuffling Machine
Yet another way to thwart cheaters and card counters came with the introduction of the continuous shuffling machine or CSM for short. As the name suggests, this contraption shuffles cards pretty much constantly. In fact, the cards are not only shuffled after each hand but they also get mixed in with the other cards in the machine. First introduced in 2000 by the company Shuffle Master, these machines depend on a system akin to a Ferris Wheel to mix cards into sections, followed up by serving a pre-set number of cards as a new deck.
On top of the cold, hard blackjack facts above, there’s plenty of anecdotes going around once you start exploring the world of blackjack. With such a huge following, a slew of high-profile cheaters, and some urban myths, it’s enough to keep you entertained at least until the end of this page.
A Dealer Once Dealt Blackjack for 51 Hours Straight
Far from an urban myth, this one is actually a true story: a dealer in Malta once dealt blackjack for 51 hours straight, breaking into the book of Guinnes World Records, even! Stephen de Raffaele woke up one day in 2000 wanting to set a record in dealing. Unluckily for him, Guinness World Records has never hosted such a feat before, so it took a gruelling stretch of organisational tactics, guidelines and preparation to set the stage for de Raffaele’s plan. When the time came on the 24th until the 27th of August 2001, the master dealer set off to endure 51 hours and 33 minutes of dealing, only taking one 15-minute break every eight hours as per the regulations.
The Largest Blackjack Table is 2,226ft Long
Did you think we were done with the Guiness Records? Not in the slightest – alas, the world of blackjack trivia is a resourceful one. This record entry goes to the biggest blackjack table, which clocked in at 2,226 feet of surface area – that’s nearly 207 square metres! The XXL table was created as part of the Viejas Casino’s 21st anniversary, and you could play this beauty directly at the Viejac Casino in southern California.
Looking rather comical, the setup included oversized chips and cards to go along with the robust piece of furniture and had to be manned by extra staff in charge of turning the giant cards. Unfortunately, a monstrously huge table doesn’t guarantee you monstrously huge wins, so you might be better off sitting at a regular-sized one.
Eleanore Dumont Was the First Professional Blackjack Player
Though you’ll find a slew of notable blackjack players, dealers and experts, none invoke as much fascination as one Eleanor Dumont of the Gold Rush west coast. Though details of her origins are not completely clear, it’s established that Eleanor was born Simone Jules in either France or the Mississippi Delta and later joined-in on the rush frenzy by moving out west and learning the ropes of card games. An entrepreneurial spirit and some savings enabled the fresh-faced young lady to open up a gaming parlour called Vingt-et-un, where she would deal cards of the same game – a precursor to blackjack.
Her style of professionalism and dedication to the trade shook up the gambling scene which had been, thus far, marked by ruggedness. Eleanor’s parlour drew a lot of interest thanks to its upscale décor with chandeliers, luxurious carpets and flowing champagne (instead of whiskey). Only well-groomed men were admitted, and cursing, arguing, smoking and fighting were not allowed. She was a skilled dealer known for honest games and fair paying-out of wins – though some would argue she’d sure had some smooth moves up her sleeve in order to improve her house edge. Eleanor moved with the rush crowds from city to city, never dropping the ball when it came to card games – though in her later years her establishments lost a bit of their glamour. Her demise came in the form of a suicide after a big loss on an already empty bank account, with a note stating that she was simply “tired of life”.
Is It True that Some Casinos Actually Don’t Care About Card Counting?
Some blackjack experts actually say that card counting is not that big of a deal – rather, it’s an overblown myth that takes up way too much of players’ and dealers’ mental space. After all, card counting is indeed very present in blackjack-related pop-culture, often seen as a clever and very rewarding way to beat the system. Ideas of superb intellect or mathematical insights come to mind, luring players time and time over to give this tactic a go.
However, a fraction of blackjack pros would actually argue the truthfulness of the claim that card counting is super lucrative – there’s an argument among casino buffs that this method only gives you a tiny (around 0.2%) edge over the house in most games anyway. So, long story short, all the effort might not even be worth it. Instead, casinos would be better off watching out for other means of advantage play.
There are Great Apps for Practicing for Free
Want to perfect your game and maybe even try out some frowned-upon tactics like card-counting? As you already know, there’s a handful of fantastic blackjack casinos where you can play for real money, but before you do that, we’d encourage you to browse the long list of social gaming apps where you can play blackjack absolutely for free and completely for practicing! Take the practice play with you whenever and wherever – how else would you pass time while waiting at the dentist’s office? Depending on your device, you can browse either Google Play or the App Store for a fitting game platform and get up to speed in no time! Ready for real money play? Then get started with our intro to mobile casino gaming and check out some of the best casino apps out there!