Origin of the Game of Craps

Craps is one of the world’s most widely played casino games both online and at land based casinos. It was derived from an old game called ‘Hazard’. There are various theories as to how Hazard and Craps were created and adopted in different countries.

The History of Hazard

Sir William of Tyre was one of the crusaders in 1125 AD. When his company had laid siege to a castle called Hazarth, the knights often passed the time between battle by playing a rudimentary game that they called ‘Hazard’ after the castle they were fighting for.

Some scholars believe that the game of Hazard was derived from a similar Arabic game played with dice known as ‘Al Zar’. This translates into ‘Dice’ in Arabic. They believe that the game came over to Europe through merchants, prior to the 12th century. Hazard could have originally been derived from the Arabic dice game as evidence suggests that these were played in countries such as Egypt, as early as 2600 BC.

17th to 18th Century

Hazard was widely-played in England during the 17th century. It was a game that was played by both nobles and peasants alike and found in both taverns and luxurious casinos.

The French soon took a liking to the game and adapted it to suit their preference, calling it ‘Craps’. This is derived from the name ‘Crabs’, which is a word used to describe a difficult situation in the game, when a player rolls and gets a 2. Some scholars believe that ‘Crabs’ was an Americanized name for the game. Hazard or Craps was brought to America by either British or French immigrants.

19th Century Craps: John H. Winn Reinvents the Game

Several changes were made to the game of Craps in the 19th century by John H. Winn. He re-invented the game, making the rules simple and creating a more modern layout. This was initially known as the ‘Philadelphia’ layout. John Scarne, a world famous maker of dice, said that John H. Winn is considered the father of the modern game of Craps.

Winn essentially invented the rules of modern Craps. He introduced the concepts of ‘Pass’ and ‘Don’t Pass’ bets as well as the Big 6 and Big 8. Winn also brought in the concept of allowing players to place wagers against the shooter. By creating these new rules, the popularity of the game soared higher than ever. In addition, the new bets also encouraged players to stop using crooked or loaded dice as they now had the option of betting against the shooter.

Wartime Craps Games: 20th and 21st Centuries

Craps hit the peak of its popularity during the course of the 20th and 21st centuries. During the Second World War, soldiers fighting on both sides played the game during the lull periods of no fighting. Soldiers from the United States took the game with them to different parts of the world where it was adopted by the locals. Craps is now played in several countries world wide.  

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