In many ways, the popular casino dice game Craps is similar to the European game of Hazard (Az Zahr). There’s a common belief among historians that Hazard was brought back by Crusaders from their conquests. More specifically, the Crusaders may have brought back the Arabian game of Az Zahr to Europe.
However, although Hazard and Craps have many similarities, craps has its roots in ancient Greece and Rome. Keep on reading to learn more about the history of craps, which has been a popular game ever since.
The Origins of Craps
Ancient Romans had the habit of rolling dice made out of pig’s knuckles on their shields as a form of gambling, which is the earliest version of craps. It’s also the game from which the term “rolling the bones” originated. However, it didn’t rise to prominence until the XVIII century, when French aristocrats started playing it in casinos.
During this time, the French were quite into gambling and are probably responsible for the name of the game. Some historians believe the name craps came from the French word ‘Crabs’ which described an early version of hazard. Others believe that the name came from the French term ‘crapauds’ which referred to the toad-like (crouching) position of the players who gambled on streets using dice.
From France, the game arrived in London, and from there, Bernard Mandeville, a wealthy American landowner, brought it to New Orleans at the beginning of the XIX century. Instead of sticking to the regular rules of the game such as picking a main number between five and nine, Mandeville decided to make the game simpler, making 7 the main number. Craps quickly became quite popular among people from a lower stature and quickly spread up the Mississippi River.
John H. Winn’s Vision
As soon as it appeared in American casinos, they started using unfair dice in order to turn a profit. This was fixed in 1907 by John H. Winn, who introduced a new layout that features the now well-known Pass and Don’t Pass bets. Winn’s revolutionary move also introduced the concept of betting right and wrong in craps which is still in use today. These bets made it harder for the casinos to use weighed dice and gain an unfair advantage.
During World War II, craps literally exploded in terms of popularity. Soldiers on the frontlines adopted it as a popular pastime, playing it in streets and shelters while they awaited orders. This made craps one of the most dominant casino games in Vegas after the war ended, and its popularity in casinos still hasn’t diminished.
With the development of technology and the rise of online casinos, it was only logical that craps would follow blackjack, poker, slots, and baccarat to the web. The game is quite popular in online casinos today as it allows players to play it out of fun or for real money.
This presents great opportunities for rookie gamblers and seasoned veterans as well. You don’t have to play craps on a blanket in the street – just log-in to your favorite casino and enjoy the game of chance everywhere you go.
If you have any question about the history of craps, feel free to contact me or you may add any question or comments below. I usually answer quickly.
Ari Waknine was born in Brooklyn, New York and was the founder of iGamble Group, an online gaming critique firm that helps players pick online gambling websites that fit their profile, as well as, helping them to increase their winnings. He is also the founder of NewCasinos.org, and is strictly focusing on this project making stronger and better than ever.