The Many Faces of Blackjack: Exploring Its Evolution and Different Names

The Many Faces of BlackjackBy Ahsan Raza.

You might have heard people talk about blackjack but use different names for it. Blackjack is the widely agreed term to describe the game, but local vernacular and other things can impact the way people talk about it. “21” and other names are used around the world.

Understanding a bit about the evolution of blackjack and its European origins can also help to understand different naming conventions. On top of that, its appeal has led to numerous variations and adaptations, especially since blackjack evolved and went online.

History of Blackjack

Casino gamers know it today as blackjack, but the game is thought to have originated from various European card games, most notably the French game “Vingt-et-Un” (Twenty-One) and the Spanish game “Trente-un” (Thirty-One). Ideas in these games were pretty much the same, players tried to reach a total card value of 21 or as close to it as possible without exceeding it.

In the United States, they evolved into what we now recognize as blackjack. Historians think this is because there were some casinos offering promotions relating to people getting black “jack” cards in their hands. If the player’s hand consisted of an ace of spades and a black deck’s jack they may have been rewarded.

Blackjack continues to evolve now, online gaming has really changed a lot with new variations and just more people playing – the game is super accessible.

The 1990s were the first example of online blackjack but the 2000s saw more options, and eventually, digital changes like mobile gaming changed things once more. Cryptocurrency brought about another revolution that is being seen all over the world in casino gaming, and more are choosing to play blackjack with bitcoin online. Bitcoin is the world’s biggest crypto. People who use it know that security is top of the agenda, and cryptographic methods secure the data. Middlemen like banks and other organizations also get cut out of the transaction, and instead, a public ledger is used. Digital wallets also add further security checks for a lot of transactions. Bitcoin means quicker and cheaper movement of funds to the account which is why it’s been so widely used.

Why Blackjack Has So Many Names

You can imagine a time long before the internet when people passed on games in person, they may have added their own twist or even forgotten names. Blackjack’s numerous names stem from its international appeal and the variety of cultural influences that had an impact. Each region where it is played may have added a new name, sometimes just a variety for their language (of course). 21, pontoon, or other names often reflect the unique features of the local versions of the game.

You might think blackjack has enough terminology to learn without having to consider the names it is called around the world, and you’d probably be right!

Vingt-et-Un, meaning twenty-one, is one of the direct ancestors of blackjack, it may just be another name or it can have slight variations from the modern version of blackjack.

The UK calls it pontoon – Pontoon is a popular British version of blackjack with not many differences besides terminology, the rules of pontoon are pretty much the same.1)EDITOR NOTE: Pontoon and blackjack can be quite different depending on where it is played.  The main difference in Australia and Malaysia is that all the tens are removed from the deck(s), making pontoon similar to Spanish 21.

Different locations have other names for it, too. Veintiuna, meaning twenty-one in Spanish, is basically blackjack but historically might have had some rule variations. It is the Spanish version that greatly influenced the game’s evolution. In Italy, blackjack is sometimes referred to as Ventuno.

21 is probably the most popular of all of the things to call the game. People take things pretty literally! You’ll see the game called 21 in many parts of North America, this name is just based on the primary objective of the game and the winning score, so it is a straightforward way to refer to the game.

Blackjack has continued to evolve, especially with the growth of online casinos and digital gaming platforms so you might even see specific variations with their own names, but casinos use the term blackjack as it is so popular and widely understood (21 might be a close second).


300 years or more have passed since somebody, somewhere, had the idea of the game. Of course, in history, some people have got the rules wrong, misunderstood the name, or given their own slang name to the game since then. Travelers who see a lot of the world may have seen the game referred to as different things, it took hundreds of years of the game’s existing before blackjack even got its most popular name.

Casino games continue to change and evolve and blackjack isn’t just a game but a niche now. Cryptocurrencies are bringing more players and giving convenient ways to move funds around, and this historic game has modern audiences.

IMAGE CREDIT: Microsoft CoPilot



1EDITOR NOTE: Pontoon and blackjack can be quite different depending on where it is played.  The main difference in Australia and Malaysia is that all the tens are removed from the deck(s), making pontoon similar to Spanish 21.

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