Why Is Blackjack Called Blackjack?

Chances are even if you play blackjack, you haven’t given much thought to why it’s called blackjack. Here’s why.

When “21” came to America, gambling halls needed a way to promote the game. They offered bonus payouts, including one that paid extra if a black jack (a jack of either spades or clubs) was dealt along with an ace of spades.

As the game became more popular (it’s the most popular casino card game in the world), the bonus payouts became less common and the informal name was the one that stuck, blackjack.

The Sahara was the first casino in Las Vegas to hold a blackjack tournament, in 1978.

The precursor to blackjack was a French game popular in the 1700s, Vingt-et-un (French for “21”).

There are other kinds of blackjack, of course. A blackjack is a short, leather-covered club, for one. It’s also a small oak tree with black bark found in the eastern U.S., as well as a type of weed (Bidens pilosa).

There’s also a drinking cup called a blackjack, and there’s a mineral called blackjack, a variety of sphalerite, whatever that might be.

A “blackjack” was also the term used to describe the skull and crossbones flags popular on pirate ships.

Black jack flag
The blackjack flag is also known as the Jolly Roger, and honestly, haven’t we all been rogered at blackjack from time to time?

One more bit of blackjack trivia: In a two-deck game, if you get an ace as your first card, your chances of getting a blackjack are a solid 31%.

Now, go play. Just don’t make any silly side bets.