The most commonly played table casino game worldwide is Blackjack. This popular gambling game is also called twenty-one, or vingt-et-un, and is thought to have originated in Southern Europe at the beginning of the 17th Century. Games played in the casino with similar rules are Spanish 21 and Pontoon, which are both derivatives of Blackjack.
Blackjack is played with traditional 52-card packs, and pits the dealer against the player in a game of card comparison. The number of decks used depends on the number of players. The player is dealt two cards to start with; he is then allowed to look at his hand and decide whether he wants to ‘hit’, (take another card), or ‘stick’, (not take any more cards). The aim is to bring the sum total of the cards to a value of 21, or as close to 21 as possible, without exceeding it. If a player’s cards exceed 21 he is ‘bust’ and is no longer in that round of the game. If the player has a higher sum total than the dealer, the dealer pays out, but if the dealer has a higher number the player forfeits his wager, as indeed he does if he exceeds 21. There are opportunities during the game for players to double their wagers. The skill in blackjack lies in a player being able to memorise cards that have already come out of the pack and to some extent work out the probability of certain crucial cards, such as aces and royal cards, and plan his playing strategy accordingly.