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Blackjack & Canada: origins and evolution

Blackjack is arguably one of the most popular casino games around, and can be found in almost every corner of the world. With that in mind, it’s no surprise that the classic game has also made a name for itself in Canada – overcoming laws and regulations, to provide Canadians with an action-packed, and above all else, safe way to play.

Read on as we delve into the origin and evolution of the game, as well as how it found its way into Canada.

About Blackjack

Blackjack is a card game, and is sometimes referred to as just “21”. This is because reaching a total of 21 across your hand is the ideal outcome – even though the ultimate goal is to beat the dealer. To do this, you must either reach a total of 21 before the dealer, or watch as they go bust. To go bust is to exceed a hand of 21.

As you begin each game, you’ll place your bet before receiving two face-up cards. The dealer will receive just one face-up card, with their other one being hidden from the other players. The value of each card is quite simply determined, with face cards (Kings, Queens and Jacks) holding a value of 10, numbered cards taking on their numerical value and the Aces counting as either one or 11, at the player’s discretion.

The highest paying result comes in the form of a “Blackjack”, or total of 21, from your first two cards. If this happens, you should expect a payout of at least 3:2 your bet.

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The Early Days

Going as far back as the 1700s and 1800s, it’s thought that French colonists would have brought early casino games such as Roulette, Baccarat, and even a somewhat primitive version of our beloved Blackjack into Canada. This was following a period of time where the games have become increasingly popular amongst the aristocracy across Europe.

Whilst the history of Blackjack in Canada is somewhat difficult to trace throughout the rest of the 1800s, we can infer that the country’s residents were enjoying a good game or two a little too much as, in 1892, the Canadian Criminal Code was introduced, and initially ruled out all forms of gambling.

Modern Blackjack in North America

The way we play Blackjack today is often hailed as being developed in North America, around 1930. Blackjack continued to spread across the country, although players gradually grew bored and casinos were pushed to inject a little more excitement into the game – introducing higher payouts.

The Dawn of the Casino

Commercial casino buildings didn’t start to appear in Canada until 1989, in Winnipeg, with the Criminal Code amending their rulings. Just four years later, and Montreal opened up their first brick and mortar casino – with Blackjack being one of the main games to feature.

Staying Safe

With the majority of provinces being somewhat reluctant to allow gambling to happen without strict regulations and commissions in place, it’s no wonder that Canada boasts one of the most regulated casino scenes around.

For example, when you find yourself playing online casino games of Blackjack at the only regulated – Play Alberta – you’ll find a GameSense tab at the top of the screen, offering in-depth information about the game, and player support if needed.

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Under the Blackjack subheading, you should expect to find a brief description of how to play the game and the kinds of payouts you should expect from the average casino location or site. There’s also a cluster of key terms and definitions on hand to get you in the know on all of the latest Blackjack lingo, such as:

  • Soft Hand: a hand that includes an Ace and takes on the value of 1.
  • Hard Hand: a hand that doesn’t contain any Aces, or a hand where the
    Ace can only take a value of 1, or the total will exceed 21.
  • Stand: when you’re satisfied with your hand so don’t take on any more cards

So, now you know the origin story, will Blackjack be your new favorite game?