Bernie Block: 21 Gone Awry

The card game, Blackjack, also known as “21” is very popular with seniors in the casinos of the world. It was conceived not too long ago.

Playing cards are believed to have been invented in China or India around 900 A.D. The Chinese are thought to have originated card games when they began shuffling paper money, which was another Chinese invention, into various combinations. In China today, the term for playing cards means “paper tickets.”

The 52-card deck used now was originally called the “French Pack” which derived its name around the 1600s from the French game “chemin de fer” and “French Ferme.” While very popular in ancient Greece, though illegal, gambling has been part of the human experience ever since.

Blackjack originated in French casinos about 1700 where it was called “vingi-et-un” or “twenty and one.” It has been played in the U.S. since the 1800s. The name derived its nomenclature because if a player got a Jack of Spades and an Ace of spades as the first two cards dealt face up to the player, he or she received additional payoff money. In casinos today, any combination of the first two cards in any suite dealt to the player that adds up to 21, is called “Blackjack” by the dealer and receives a three-to-two payoff (If you bet $10, you receive $15 immediately rather than even money from the total bet before the deal is over.)

There have been many efforts to apply mathematics to the game. Pioneers in this attempt used calculator, probability, and statistic theories to substantially reduce the “house” advantage. After the computer came along, it was much easier to help the gambler to win. Today, the odds are just about even for the house and the player. That’s why the game is so popular.

Other meanings of “21” have arisen, too. For instance, in mathematics its proper divisors are 1, 3, 7. Adding up the sums for the numbers 1 through 6 yields 21. In science, it is the atomic number for scandium. In astronomy, the number connotes a barred spiral galaxy in the constellation Andromeda.

Here are a few other things about the number 21. Twenty-one has been the legal age of adulthood in many countries of the world, before it was lowered to 18 in the United States. The number is the legal age at which one can purchase an alcoholic drug, with a few exceptions in certain counties of a U.S. state, It is also the legal age to gamble, and work as a prostitute in Nevada. In most states a person must be over 21 to rent a car.

In sports, 21 is a variation of street basketball in which each player (there can be any number) plays for him or herself only in making the requisite number of baskets.

In other fields, 2001 to 2100 is referred to as the 21st Century. This inspired a number of companies to include the number 21 in their corporate names–Century 21 Real Estate and Century 21 Television to name a notable two.

Here are other interesting facts about the number. The number of spots on a standard cubicle die in a pair of dice is 1-2-3-4-5-6, which adds up to 21.

The number of firings in a gun salute to Royalty or leaders of countries…usually it’s called a 21-Gun Salute.
It was the title of a Quiz Show that ran from 1956 to 1958, and most remembered for the scandal that was associated with it.

Is there anything else about Blackjack you should know? In a book by this blogger called “The Sleeping Girl on the Couch”, Blackjack and 21 fit into this fictionalized story (Available on Amazon) you will find out how 21 has gone awry. (See answer at end of this blog.)
From Blog on the Internet:
WAYS TO KEEP YOUR BRAIN SHARP…Physical exercise; Learn another language; Play a musical
instrument; Memorization; Play games; Read a book; Do puzzles; Travel; Calculate math problems; Take a class; Socialization; Volunteering– 98443.
ONE-LINER SENIOR JOKES: I’m smiling all the time because I can’t hear a word you’re saying!
Answer to what else has gone awry:
Blackjack was the name of a secret art group of 21 players. (The Sleeping Girl on the Couch) by Bernard Block, ISBN 978-1-59872-34-7.

Bernie is a real person who resides in one of our Brookdale communities. The views and opinions expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Brookdale Senior Living.


Leave a Comment

You May Also Like

Lorraine is Back

Virginia Wylie November 21, 2017

Ninety-five years ago, an unusual event occurred.  In a small farmhouse on Long Island, NY, twins were born, a girl and a boy. The boy, a gentleman then and always, ... Read more

South for the Winter

Virginia Wylie October 25, 2017

When it rains I won’t complain The sun shines? That’s mighty fine Warm or hot I like a lot Here no snow blows No more ice, that’s nice No more ... Read more