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The History of the Game of Craps

By: Adam Richards, Friday August 13th 2010
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Dice games were known in ancient Egypt from around 2,600 BCE. They were also known in other parts of the ancient world like India and the Roman Empire. But none of these can be related to the game of craps. It is certain that craps originated from a dice game called Hazard, but there are two common versions about the origin of Hazard. One version states that Hazard is a corruption of "Al Zar", which means dice and refers to a game played in Arabia before the 12th century. The other version relates to an apocryphal event in the Crusades. In 1125 AD Sir William of Tyre led a band of Crusaders and laid siege to a castle that was named Asart or Hazarth. In order to pass time during the siege the knights played a game of dice that came to be known as Hazarth and was later anglicized to Hazard.

Over the centuries Hazard became extremely popular in England. The lowly played it in the taverns and the nobility played it in luxury casinos. From England the game moved to France. Then either the British or the French settlers took the game to America. The game was soon being played all along the east coast, most particularly in New Orleans. Somewhere along the line the name of the game was changed to Craps. It is not certain whether this happened in France or in America. "Crabs" was the name for the roll of 2 in the English version. It is assumed that Craps was a corrupted form of Crabs.

In the beginning of the 19th century John H. Winn converted the game to its present format. Gambling historians call Winn the father of modern Craps. He created the layout of the Craps table and invented the Pass and Don’t Pass bets as well as the Big 6 and Big 8 bets. His biggest contribution was putting an end to the use of crooked dice. Players hesitated to wager on Craps because they thought that the dice were loaded in favor of the casinos. Winn formulated rules that allowed players to bet against the shooter. Then it did not matter if the dice were crooked because players could now bet either way, also called right and wrong betting. This single innovation was responsible in the upsurge in the popularity of the game.

In the 20th century the popularity of Craps spread throughout the world. In the Second World War both the Allied and the German soldiers played Craps whenever there was a break from actual fighting, thus going back to the possible origin of the game. As American soldiers went to distant parts of the world they took the game of Craps with them. Another major contributor to the global popularity of craps was Hollywood movies, which were screened world-wide. The scenes of Craps being played glamorized the game and gave rise to new players. The rise of Internet gambling in the mid 1990s brought craps to every household. Exclusive casino settings with a host of attendants manning the tables were no longer required. In fact even other players were no longer required. Craps could be played alone in online casinos.

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Comment by: Silverman On: August 13, 2010
Craps is a great game. I've learned mostly to play by playing online which I think is a great way for people to learn to play craps in comparison to conventional ways which require that you play at land based casinos which can ultimately IMO be a more intimidating way of playing the game.

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