Craps (previously known as crabs) is a gambling
game played with two dice; a first throw of 7 or 11 wins and
a first throw of 2, 3, or 12 loses and a first throw of any
other number must be repeated to win before a 7 is thrown,
which loses the bet and the dice.
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.
The origin of the dice can be traced to a prehistoric
time when a primordial fortuneteller used to throw sacred
arrows, bones, sticks and stones upon the ground trying to
predict the future for his tribe. 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. The dice edges
are razor sharp, and the corners are needle sharp. The cellulose
is transparent to avoid dice loading.
The history of the dice and the dice games in
general is few thousands years old. 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, led by the three most powerful kings of Western Europe:
Frederick Barbarossa of The Holy Roman Empire, Philip Augustus
of France and Richard The “Lion Heart of England”. Hazard
was probably created long before the crusaders. It is possible
that the first English settlers on "Mayflower" brought
it to America.
English Hazard became very popular in New Orleans
around 1800, where French called it 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
What is known is that the game, as we know it
today, was revised by dice maker John H Winn who invented
the concept of betting with or against the shooter. The layouts
and tables further evolved once gambling became legalised
in Las Vegas and encouraged craps to go on to be one of the
most popular casino games today. Indeed the game of craps
is one of Littlewoods most popular online casino games.
One thing can be sure that the game of
craps has been around for hundreds of years and will continue
to hold an important place in gambling tradition.