As two of the world’s most famous and loved card games, blackjack and poker have undergone the evolution all games do from their initial origins to the modern contests that we see today, if you want to discover a full history of the game then head over to Ladbrokes guide to the history of blackjack.
Some of these changes relate to the rules casinos and other professional establishments put in place, although you have to bear in mind that every company can choose its own approach. Others are more changes of habit on behalf of the players, sometimes in response to a different set of rules and, at other times, just people’s attitudes developing.
What unites both games is that there has been a rapid increase in the number of all types of changes in the past decade compared to the years beforehand. Take card shuffling in blackjack, for instance. Whereas a dealer would always have shuffled the cards manually in the past, nowadays more and more casinos are installing an increasingly technical series of automatic shufflers at their tables. Major casinos especially are using Continuous Shuffling Machines more – devices which are designed to ensure the dealer has an even greater advantage both through the fixed odds and the fact that the house can deal more hands per hour, increasing its income.
Other changes have been played by some for years, yet only caught on to by the rest of the public recently. The use of the continuation bet in poker is a good example, whereby the player raises before flop and, whether or not the flop hits you, they bet every time when they’re first to act or the action is checked around the table to them. It has some logic to it, as it can put your opponent in a position where it’s difficult to call if you’ve raised before as well as on the flop, but its popularity has given risen to counter strategies in turn.
Some evolutions of the games have come in the form of more options: check out how many side bets you can play nowadays at a blackjack table, whereas decades ago, it was blackjack or nothing. You could argue something similar for the rise of decision support tools after online poker became universally popular, with players now able to analyse and assess their games long after they’ve finished with more data than ever before.
Most changes, however, simply come down to the house trying to cover its back. The death of the original single-deck blackjack game is a classic example, as more decks have been added in recent years to outwit card counters and ensure they don’t cut into the casino’s takings. Some still exist, but at odds of 6 – 5 for an untied blackjack, they give the house an even bigger advantage than usual.
Yet it is the way players’ views alter when completely unaffected by establishment rules that is most peculiar. The sudden acceptance of calling in poker – previously something which would see you lose respect among others around the table – is a particularly odd occurrence. Nowadays, it’s considered just another tactic to call your opponent which, aside from machismo opinions, is all it’s ever really been.