Ante Up: Why Blackjack Remains the Most Popular Card Game
When you think of blackjack, it automatically evokes imagery of suave British superspies in glamorous, exotic casinos sipping on luxuriant cocktails as they flip their cards over. The game – thought to have its origins in 18th century France - and its popularity have remained steady ever since. With one dealer, sometimes only one player, and a handful of cards, blackjack is as debonair as the tuxedo-wearer that it represents.
The aim of the game – originally called vingt-et-un or 21 - is to reach 21 before the dealer. A blackjack refers to drawing two cards that total 21 in the first draw (an ace and one of the Jack of Spades or the Jack of Clubs). The player wins if they either reach a higher score than the dealer does without exceeding 21, or the dealer goes bust by dealing themselves past 21. More detailed rules can be added to give the game more dexterity, but the simplicity and ease at which you can pick up the basic gameplay - not to mention the variations that can be played - remains one of the reasons blackjack has retained its appeal.
Blackjack's popularity rose long before microchips were even dreamt up. Tournaments were held in the winter months that pit players against one another as well as against the dealer. The added level of skill needed to master the competitiveness of the game allowed blackjack's popularity to flourish. Celebrities from P Diddy to Prince Harry are known to be fans of blackjack. And Paris Hilton even added $50,000 to her fortune playing the game.
Blackjack’s popularity remains strong with the shift from physical gaming to iGaming and online casinos. Part of the reason for this is due to the positive aspects of blackjack made even better with the addition of technology. The variety of versions of the game that are accessible online only increases compared to physical playing – and, with the introduction of virtual reality technology, the scope for immersive blackjack gaming from the comfort of your own home is amplified.
The rising popularity of iGaming (in the UK, revenue generated rose around 1.5% in the past year alone) and especially VR-ready software makes online dealer casino, a mix between live streaming and VR games, the casino of the future. iGaming is already set to continue its rise, and continued technological progress means that popular physical games can be improved for the 21st century. Live-streaming casinos are already at the apex of technology, giving players the possibility to chat and play in real time against the dealer. The days of subpar hazy graphics and lagging have been replaced by crystal-clear visuals and lightning-fast loading speeds.
Unlike more rule-heavy games that take not just skill and mastery, but the need to remember complex rules and strategies, blackjack can be very good to amateurs and professionals alike. While there are skills needed in deciding whether to continue with the game once the initial cards are dealt, and whether or not the wager needs increasing, the game remains very accessible. This emphasis on casual gaming means that blackjack's popularity on online platforms is only set to rise further as players increasingly demand quick and easy games to play.