Craps History: How Craps Evolved from Ancient Times to 21st Century

Craps is a spectacular, fast-paced casino game that has been around for centuries but still manages to fascinate gamblers all around the world. In its core, it is a fairly simple game, in which players bet on the outcome of a pair of rolling dice but over the years, its rules and the way it is played has changed profoundly.

For centuries, craps has been popular as a street game in many parts of Europe but today’s casino craps includes many more types of bets, complex rules, and the chance to leave the table with huge profits. The game has gone through a lot of changes, the most recent of which was fueled by the rise of the online gambling industry and the optimization of casino software for mobile platforms. Still, it remains one of the most traditional games you would find in a brick-and-mortar or online casino.

Origins of the Game

1The Middle Ages

As with most table games today, craps has been played for centuries and its origin remains unknown. Some researchers believe that a similar game was played in the Roman Empire but rather than a dice the Romans used a pig’s knucklebones. Another theory suggests that craps or hazard, as it was known for centuries, may be linked to the game of “azzahr” (“al-zahr” or “al dar”, meaning dice) that was popular in the Arabic world during the Middle Ages.

2Invented by the nobleman Sir William

Most researchers, however, believe the origins of the modern game of craps could be traced back to the time of the Crusades and 1125, in particular, when the game was presumably invented by the nobleman Sir William of Tyre. Sir William, according to the historical sources, named the game after the castle where he and his knights engaged in a battle. The castle was known as “Asart” or “Hazarth”, which later became “hazard”.

3Craps in Medieval England

The first written source to mention this game is the classic collection of stories by Geoffrey Chaucer The Canterbury Tales. Written in the late 14th century, the tales described the life in Medieval England and multiple characters were said to be engaging in some form of dice gambling. Meanwhile, the modern name “craps” most probably derives from the French word “crapaud”, which means toad. The term referred to the squatting position of the players who tossed the dice onto the floor.

4Craps Become Popular in Europe

By the 17th century, the game had become widely popular across Europe and was frequently played in French taverns where it was known as “hazard”. It was also one of the few games that were offered in the first European gambling houses.

Craps Development in the USA

The dice gambling game was brought to North America by French settlers at the beginning of the 17th century. It was played in the New French colony of Acadia, which was located in what is now Eastern Canada’s Maritime provinces. After the French and Indian War (1754-1763), New France lost control of Acadia and as a result, most of the settlers were deported. Some Acadians eventually ended up in today’s Louisiana where they developed the Cajun culture. Craps was a part of this culture.

Street Dice Games
John H. Winn and Bank Craps

Craps in Modern Times

Craps became particularly popular during World War II among American soldiers who spread it around the world. Today, the game could be found wherever casino gambling is allowed – from Las Vegas to London and Macau. The development of the Internet and technologies in the past two decades made it possible for craps to be played online, too.

Playing Craps in Land-Based Casinos
Online Craps
Mobile Craps Games

Glossary

Ace Deuce

Aces

Action

Any Craps

Any Seven

Apron

Betting Behind

Big 8 and Big 6

Bones

Box Numbers

Boxcars

C&E

Cold Dice

Come Out

Crap Out

Craps Numbers

Don’t Come

Don’t Pass

Easy Way

Even Money

Field Bet

Front Line

George

Hard Way

Hi-Lo

Hi-Lo Yo

Hop

Horn

Hot Dice

Inside Numbers

Juice

Lay Bet

Lay Odds

Little Joe

Marker Puck

Natural

Odds Bet

Outside Numbers

Parlay

Pass Line

Place Bet

Point

Proposition Bet

Right Betting

Rail

Seven Out

Shooter

Take Odds

Whirl Bet

Wrong Betting

Yo