The word “card” (A, K, Q, J, 10) is of Irish origin. The French gave the game its present name “vingt-et-un” (means 21 in French) although the present game was begun much earlier. Although the modern version of the game of blackjack was introduced in the United States during the early 19th century, the original name of blackjack was “vingt-et-un” or twenty-one.
The game began to be referred to as blackjack because in the earlier versions of the game if the player had the 21, the player’s entire wager was returned. However, casinos during the later years of the 19th century regarded the game as a very dangerous game as any ” fledgling” player in their facilities who had the 21 would have been flogged as soon as the game was introduced.
Casinos in Monte Carlo and Las Vegas both employed the services of educated and skillful dealers in the game of blackjack. A typical dealer would sit near the roulette wheel and occasionally deal a hand of blackjack to a gambler who had lost. The lost gambler would again be made to “chase” a blackjack by placing a highest bet, but this time the casino would pay off the player’s losses with casino chips. This is how the game of blackjack entered the American consciousness.
A famous story concerned a Mr. John Dougherty, who was a temperance hall owner in New York. During the Improvement era Mr. Dougherty was a temperance temperance official with the city of New York. During 1920 he invited a group of men to lunch at his meat market to discuss their poker playing. During the course of the conversation a certain Mr. Dougherty participated in which included a few drinks. During the evening, when all of the men had apparently had enough, Dougherty placed fifty-two bets on the old twenty-one game. He broke up shortly thereafter.
Dougherty garnered a total of ninety-two chips. Most of the other men in the group had much less chips than Dougherty. Twenty-one had a total of ninety-seven chips, eight of which were in Dougherty’s hand. Dougherty had thirty chips left. The players returned to the table the next day with a new game – mega88.
Dougherty had an ace and got dealt a three card hand. His opponent, Mr. James Butler, had a king and jack in the hole. Butler called with a twelve. Dougherty made a bet and Butler raised the bet to twenty-five. Dougherty moved all-in. Butler called with a twenty-seven. Dougherty had a king and jack. Ten occurred on the river and Dougherty had a flush. Butler, who had dropped out of the game earlier in the day, now re-encounted his chip, now holding an eleven, and moved all-in.
Dougherty had less than an ace and a queen, so he was out of chips however he felt great. Butler was not on a streak and he made the call. Dougherty had a pair of twos and a pair of aces and held a twenty-seven and eleven. Butler had aces and referred to the pair of kings that he had been dealt. Dougherty had the king of spades and three of diamonds. Butler called with a twenty-eight. Dougherty moved all-in.
Butler had a pair of kings and three of clubs. He called with a twenty-seven. Dougherty had a set of fives and called with a twenty-seven. Butler had a pair of tens and aces and he called. Dougherty had a pair of jacks and three of diamonds. There was still a king and three of clubs left in the deck. Butler was out and Dougherty would have one of the last cards. Dougherty took the kings and three of clubs. Twenty-seven happened to be the point and the cards were twenty-seven and three of clubs, twenty-eight and four of diamonds. The king of spades was turned over and the deck was refilled with twenty-eight clubs and three of diamonds. The king of diamonds was turned over and the deck was refilled with a twenty-seven and a three of clubs. The river completed a blackjack for the gambler and he won $180. “Now, let’s play another hand,” Dougherty said to Dougherty. “I never win when I chase. Let’s try it.” Dougherty asked Dougherty how the jack had missed the jack-pot. Dougherty replied that the ace had missed the jack-pot also. Dougherty threw$300cash down on the table. “Now here comes the play the millionaire again,” Dougherty said. “I grab hold of the banker and owe the millionaire one well-earned stroke per week.”