Blackjack (Atari 2600)

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Blackjack Atari 2600 Cover.jpg
Developer(s)Atari, Inc.
Publisher(s)Atari, Inc.
Programmer(s)Bob Whitehead[1]
Platform(s)Atari 2600
Genre(s)Sports (gambling)
Mode(s)Single-player, multi-player

Blackjack is a video game programmed by Bob Whitehead and published by Atari, Inc. for its Video Computer System (later known as the Atari 2600).[1] The game was one of the nine launch titles available when the Atari 2600 went on sale in September 1977. The game is a video simulation of blackjack. The objective is identical to the card game: to beat the dealer's card total, without going over 21, to win a bet. One to three players play the computer dealer.


In-game screenshot

The game employs a variant of blackjack rules that is so extremely unfavorable to the player, that it would almost certainly never be seen in a real casino because no one would play with them. Splitting pairs is not allowed, and even more substantially, draws are won by the dealer (your bet is not returned to you if you and the dealer get the same card total and neither busts). This represents over a 10% house advantage. The player uses the paddle controller to enter a bet of up to 25 chips from an initial pot of 200. An up card is then presented, and the player decides whether to "hit" (accept another card) or stand. The player breaks the bank by obtaining a score of 1,000 chips, or is "busted" upon losing everything.

Due to a glitch in the program, while a player is selecting among the options of what to do with the current hand by pressing left or right with the paddle controller, the amount of the player's next bet is modified even though it is defined by a variable that will not be visible until the end of the hand, requiring the player to carefully re-enter it at the start of every hand without pressing the button carelessly or risk wagering an unintended amount.


Blackjack was reviewed favorably in Video magazine as part of a general review of the Atari VCS. It was described as "a good game for adults with several variations for single or double players", and was scored a 10 out of 10.[2]:33


  1. ^ a b "The Giant List of Classic Game Programmers".
  2. ^ Kaplan, Deeny, ed. (Winter 1979). "VideoTest Report Number 18: Atari Video Computer". Video. Reese Communications. 1 (5): 30–34. ISSN 0147-8907.

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