Blackjack vs. Poker
Blackjack has always rivaled poker for popularity. In fact, many land-based casinos featured Blackjack over poker. Some casinos in the not so distant past even closed their poker rooms for lack of activity.
Since the advent of televised poker tournaments, like the World Poker Tour, and the World Series of Poker, in particular, replete with celebrity players and fabulous amounts of prize money awarded the tournament champions, poker has taken the world by storm.
Although Blackjack remained highly popular, the game was surely being overshadowed by the multitude of high-profile poker tournaments. Not anymore. The Ultimate Blackjack Tour for example, may be hot on the heels of the WSOP tour's popularity, since the UBT will feature not only the best Blackjack players, but championship-level poker players as well.
Although the basic principle of Blackjack is simple; card values are added in an attempt to reach twenty-one without going over, the game is not purely one of luck, as there are numerous strategies that can be employed to increase one's chances of winning.
Although various card games similar to what we now know as Blackjack had been played in other countries for many years, Blackjack did not make an appearance in American casinos until a few years prior to WW I. Played as a private game until around 1915, Blackjack was known by it's French name of "Vingt-Un, (twenty-one). The game became "Blackjack" when the casinos established bonus payouts if a player's first two cards dealt were a Black Jack (spades or clubs), and an Ace of Spades.
In the early 1930's Blackjack had increased its popularity among gamblers to the point that it was now the third most popular game played, second only to Roulette and Craps. Shortly after the end of WW II Blackjack's popularity soared, and the game was second in popularity only to Craps, it's rise largely attributed to returning American soldiers, who played the game most frequently as a diversion from the strife of the War years. By the early Fifties, Blackjack had become the most popular card game in the U.S.
Blackjack has evolved in the casinos, and having a "black" Jack and an Ace of Spades is no longer the sole means of getting Blackjack. Now, any ten-value card (ten or face card), and an Ace of any color gives one a "Blackjack".
Blackjack was hugely popular in the illegal casinos and card rooms of the U.S., but the game reached it's zenith when the State of Nevada legalized gambling within its borders in 1931. It was then that the game could be played by locals and visitors, as well as the professional gamblers that were once only able to ply their trade illegally.