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History Of The Craps Game

historyAs it is in the most gambling games history, the craps history is unclear and it has a few theories regarding the origins of the game. The dice are the oldest gambling tools. According to Scarne’s research, the dice and the games associated with them can be found all over the ancient world.

Roman Emperors Augustin, Nero and Caligula were devoted dice players. They even tried to cheat at the game. Modern looking cubical die was found in Egypt and it was dated at 600 B.C. Indian ancient epic “Mahabharata” tells the stories about the warriors throwing the dice and loosing fortunes.

Koreans were also big fans of the dice in the early days. American Indians used four-sided knucklebones to create their dice games. The fact that Arabic language uses the same word for a knucklebone and a die means that the dice were popular in Arab world for a longer time that anybody can remember.

One of the theory says that in ancient times rolling of bones was done to divine the will of the gods, and that evolved to various dice games (including Craps). For example, some fortune tellers in Cuba through sea shells and ‘read’ them. Before they became gambling devices, the dice were a shaman’s attributes.

After that they went through a long evolution of shape, size, form and markings. They were made of wood, stones, bones, animal teeth and horns, nutshells and seeds. In Greek and Roman civilizations the dice were made of more expensive materials like ivory, precious stones and metals, and porcelain. The material for modern casino dice (perfect dice) is hard cellulose, with razor sharp edges, and corners needle sharp. The cellulose is transparent to avoid dice loading.

Another one is saying that the game gets his origins from an early Arab game passed through England, France and North America. Even before the Middle Ages, the Arabs played a game using little numbered cubes, called azzahr (meaning “the die”).


Modern Craps Games

However, the history of modern craps is a lot shorter – only hundred years old. The direct predecessor of modern craps was an English game of “Hazard”. There is historical evidence that it was played by the soldiers in twelfth century during the Third Crusade.

The French adopted that term from the English, but the French spelling was crabes. In the early 1700’s, the game crossed the Atlantic to the French colony of Acadia (Canada).

In 1755, the French lost Acadia to the English who promptly renamed it Nova Scotia and banished the French-speaking Acadians, who migrated a great distance and finally relocated to Louisiana, where they were called (as they still are) Cajuns. There they developed a language called Louisiana French. They still played the good old dice game, but dropped the title of hasard and called the game simply crebs or creps, which was their modified spelling of the French crabes.

The history of craps traces its routes to the card game hazard, which was developed and promoted in the United States in 1813. Since then there have been any other stories about Craps, some claiming that the game’s origins even go as far back as the Crusades.

By 1843, the Cajun word came into American English as craps. After that rules and odds changed many times. Few new variations of the game popped up which were simpler and faster than original Hazard. One variation ‘Table Off game’ became especially popular with gambling establishments at the end of 19th century. At that time casino tables and a simple layout, featuring the 6 and 8, the Field, the Win and the Come bets, were introduced. However, the players could bet only with the dice against the House.

Finally, John H. Winn revolutionized the game and made it possible for the craps players to bet right and wrong. He improved a layout accordingly and drew a space for Don’t Pass bets. In 1931 casino gambling was legalized in the State of Nevada and Casino Craps (Las Vegas style) became popular all over the world.

However all historians seem to agree on one point, Craps was brought over to North America from Europe in the early 1700’s. The game was first played on riverboats in the United States and then moved west with the frontier as the country grew.

The modern version of the game was brought to New Orleans in the 20th century by Bernard Xavier de Marigny de Mandeville – a well known politician, wealthy landowner and gambler.  Bernard’s version of the game incorporated several flaws however.  These were addressed by John w. Winn who introduced the “don’t pass” betting option.  This is the version which still exists today.

“Craps” draws its name from the French “crapaud” meaning “toad”.  The popularity of the modern name draws from the African-American community.  This is not surprising given the history of card games and African-American culture.  Another famous card game Spades found acclaim also.

In general there are two types of Craps games played today: “Street Craps” and “Bank Craps”. Street Craps is the variety you would find being played in informal settings. The betting is simplified, and someone must cover the bet in order for the game to progress. Bank Craps on the other hand is the form played in land based and online casinos. The betting is more complicated and the house covers the bets (banks the game) so the players are in effect playing against the house.

It was in the 20th century in which Craps became a prominent card game and important in American lifestyle.  It Branched out into two forms – casino and street.  In the 1990 a couple of Las Vegas casino began experimenting with a simplified version of a Craps table.  To this day, Craps is one of the most popular and ebullient scenes in modern casinos.  Filled with raucous gamblers and onlookers it’s become a major attraction. It is also one of the most popularised and stereotypical casino games used in TV and media.

In the 21st century, online casinos such as Bovada allowed players to play online craps for free or real money.  This has helped Craps players by allowing them to learn to game’s rules without risking any of their money.  It has also led to the popularity and explosion of Craps tournaments and freerolls.  To this day, online craps is still one of the most popular casino games online and will continue to be in the near future.