Modern-day Blackjack is thought to be derived from the 17th- and 18th- century French game ‘Vingt-et-Un’, or ‘Twenty-One’. Most believe it was probably derived from the French card games, ‘Chemin de Fer’, and ‘French Ferme’, which were in vogue at that time.
But, that is not the earliest sign of a game similar to Blackjack. Similar games can be found as many as 100 years prior to that. The Spanish writer Cervantes mentions a game ‘Ventiuna’ or ‘Twenty-One’ in his tale ‘Rinconete y Cortadillo’. In the story, the game is played by trying to reach 21 without busting. Aces are valued at 1 or 11.
‘Vingt-et-un’ differs from Blackjack: it was not necessary to hit a natural for the best to win. The object of the game was to beat the dealer’s score and stay in the game. It should be noted that there wasn’t a dedicated dealer, the players took turns acting in the role of the dealer.