History of Casino Games
Few forms of entertainment can generate such dedication, passion, and excitement as the big four casino games: poker, blackjack, roulette, and slots. Millions of ardent fans around the globe participate in these games in-person and even online. Read on to find out the fascinating origins of some of today’s most popular and successful casino games!
For such a well-recognized and respected game, poker’s origins came about in relatively recent history. Reports in early 1829 out of New Orleans, Louisiana describe a card game very similar to modern day poker involving a deck of 20 cards and bets amongst four players on the value of a player’s hand. By 1850, the modern day 52-card deck had been introduced and gameplay included well known mechanisms such as the flush and the draw.
The beginnings of blackjack are quite mysterious and it is not entirely known when or where blackjack was first created and played, though the game originated under the name twenty-one. The first written reference to the game comes from the famous Spanish author Miguel de Cervantes in his story Rinconete y Cortadillo, which tells of a handful of cheaters playing the game veintiuno, the Spanish word for the number twenty-one. Written at the beginning of the 17th century and describing a game with a goal to reach 21 points and with aces valuing 1 or 11, this tale certainly indicates blackjack was played around this historic period if not earlier.
Very few games of chance are neither as enticing to play nor as exciting to witness as roulette. While the original incarnation of the roulette wheel came about in the 17th century from French mathematician and inventor Blaise Pascal (primarily known for Pascal’s theorem), the modern day version of roulette has been played since 1796. As a testament to roulette’s growing popularity over the years to come, in the 1860s when the German government prohibited gambling, François Blanc and his family created the only legal gambling sanctuary in Europe, located in famous Monte Carlo, to continue providing roulette and other popular casino games to the social elite of the time.
Slot machines (or simply slots) were originally devised in Brooklyn, New York by Sittman and Pitt. After depositing a nickel and pulling the lever, 5 drums each displaying 10 card faces based on poker spun until settling into the final configuration; with the hope of creating the best poker hand. These early slot machines lacked the technology for physical payouts, so instead a winning player would be awarded goods from the local establishment, such as alcohol or cigarettes depending what was available.