The Origins of Craps

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Craps Origin in Casino

People have been gambling all the time, on every continent, and in every type of society. Don’t ask us why. We just do not know. What we know is that the majority of the games are too old to be traced down to their roots and origins. But mankind has always tried to solve all the most mysterious riddles of history, and the origins of this game is no exception. Every attempt to discover the truth makes the ‘big picture’ of the history of gambling even more disputable, mind-boggling and sometimes even exciting!

People have always loved to tempt fate – it gives a thrill and gives hope. Even such phrases as ‘to roll the dice’ and ‘ to try your fate’ are synonymic in many languages. There are several theories that suggest who created this amazing game and our mission now is to sort them out now.

The Story of William of Tyre

One of the most popular versions is related to Sir William of Tyre. This English nobleman had allegedly invented a dice game eventually called “hazard.” The story goes that he had played the game with his knights during the siege of a castle called “Hazarth” (somewhere in the Near East) to pass time in 1125. The name “Hazarth” later turned into “hazard” – the game known as a precursor to craps. But this story seems very questionable.

William_of_tyre

If you try to dig out some more information about Willam from Tyre, you can only find two people. One is William I of Tyre, Prior of the Church of the Holy Sepulture – the Archbishop of Tyre in 1127-1135. Another one is William II of Tyre, aka Willelmus Tyrensis, who was a medieval prelate and chronicler. Both of them were priests. It is highly unlikely that any of them was the inventor of a new way of gambling.

From bad to worse, you can not find any reliable source about “the castle of Hazarth.” The year of 1125 was the time between the 1st and the 2nd crusades, full of skirmishes and “war of detail,” with a bigger battle of Azaz the crusaders and their allies won against Seljuk Turks in Edessa province. For some unknown reason, the crusaders called Azaz “Hazart” but not “Hazarth,” and there was not a long siege – just an open field battle.

Anyway, no traces of Sir Willam or castle of “Hazarth” can be reliably detected. At least, this search would refresh your knowledge about the times of the Crusades and the history of the Middle East. But you are not going to learn more about the history of craps anyway!

The Encyclopedia Britannica states that “hazard” as a dice game takes its name from the Arabic word “hajar,” which simply means “dice.” This statement seems more adequate – at least, there is no need to tack on a fictitious “Hazarth” castle.

The “coup de gras” to this apparently made-up story about Sir William in question and “Hazarth” castle is the following. Sir William and that name of the castle are only mentioned in articles and books about the history of gambling – like if this info has roamed from one page to another, reposted and copypasted! The authors seem to never bother to check their sources and to connect the dots. Well, there are too many factoids and pages full of unverified information over the web nowadays…

Where Did the Game of Craps Come From?

Perhaps, this game dates back to the 12th century. In general, throwing dice is as old as the hills. The dice are probably the earliest model of random number generator – still working well, as we see. There is much archaeological evidence of ancient dice games, with the earliest ones apparently played in Egypt about 4,000 years ago. However, we still do not know when the rules of craps were first introduced.

Originating in the Middle East and bringing the game to England seems quite possible. The game was very popular in Medieval England, clearly mentioned by Geoffrey Chaucer in his famous Canterbury Tales in 1478. Later on, the game was played in every tavern in England. By the time the Europeans began to actively colonize North America, the game was already widely spread across the European continent with some variations introduced to the rules.

We do not know whether the game has crossed the ocean with the Britons or the French. However, while in New Orleans, you may hear that it was Bernard de Marigny who took the game there. He was a nobleman of French Creole origin who had visited England and learned to play the game called “hazard” there. He modified it a bit and that was how the game we know as “craps” supposedly emerged. Anyway, “craps” can be derived from the French “crabes,” which was the term for the lowest possible value in a roll of dice in the game.

However, the story of Bernard de Marigny refers not to “crabes” but to “crapaud,” which means “toad” in French. At least that is how the game was called in New Orleans. It was often played outdoors, in the streets and by the walls, players squatting down “toad-style”, distinctly resembling of frogs.

Craps on the streets

Craps introduction and development in the New World is just the rare case when all the versions and stories may contain a portion of truth: both French and English colonists could have been taking the game to America and developing it into what we know as the game of craps. Just a long-time expansion process with many different contributors.

Older versions of craps did not have “don’t pass” betting option. This novelty finally shaped the game as we know it now. It was introduced by the American dice manufacturer John H. Winn. This novelty made it more difficult for cheaters to use loaded dice.

Modern Times

In 1931, gambling was legalized in Las Vegas. The casinos quickly figured that the game of craps creates a great atmosphere. Hollywood filmmakers also contributed to this positive image showing that the game is fast paced, entertaining, and pretty addictive, with a lot of cheers floating around – exactly what is needed to create the festive moods. Who would not be tempted to become a fortunate high roller asking a gorgeous woman to kiss his dice before throwing – just to make them “lucky?”

Luck and lust, love and luxury, quick money and risk-taking – this highly explosive mix has fueled many movies.

Played both in the casinos and on the streets and loved by the rich and the poor, the game soon became very popular among the US soldiers of WWII. The circle was closed. The game returned to its historic origins and the status of favorite pastime of the soldiers at the quiet moments on the battlefield, and aboard military ships.

During the post-war period, the popularity of craps was still high. A certain slid was noticed in the 1990ies, but it turned to be temporary. The era of online gambling gave a new push. The new option to play craps online for real money suited those who do not really need the exciting and cheerful atmosphere dominating craps tables at the land-based casino. They only want to examine and to find winning betting strategies in craps, and they get what they want.

The game of craps has always been full of friendly and “emotionally saturated” communication among the players. In the online gambling era, it does not have to be like this. However, the game never lost its attractivity – even more, it recruited its new soldiers!

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We can end up saying that craps is an enticing game that has fans all over the world. We still don’t know for sure the origins of this game, but what we can affirm is that whoever created it made a huge contribution to the development of gambling.

FAQ

When were the first dice invented?

There are several theories about the origins of dice. Some ancient historians have claimed that the first prototype of dice was invented in Ancient Greece (around 400 BC); but thanks to some helpful archeological digs, there is evidence that the ancient Egyptians played dice even earlier, in 6000 BC!

What is Craps No More?

Craps No More or Crapless Craps is a popular Craps game variation; but in this version, the rules don’t allow the player to lose a pass bet on the come out roll. So this means punters don’t get the chance to place a wager against the shooter.

What is the C and E bet in craps?

The C&E bet is a bet where the winning combination for a player is 2, 3, or 12 plus 11.

What is a high low bet in craps?

High low bet in craps means that you have 2 or 12 on the gaming table. These numbers are very rare to get, and the chances are equal to the Yo or Ace-Deuce bet.

Why do they call 11 yo in craps?

The word “eleven” can be easily confused with the word “seven”, and so to avoid any misunderstanding during the game, the simple “eleven” was changed to “yo-eleven,” or just “yo.”

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