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

Street Dice Games

It is believed that the modern-day, American version of the game was brought in New Orleans by Bernard Xavier Philippe de Marigny de Mandeville, a young gambler descended from wealthy colonial Louisiana landowners. Bernard de Marigny, who later became President of the Louisiana State Senate, popularized the game after he returned from London.

Until then, hazard players could choose any number from 5 to 9 as the main number to bet on but de Marigny simplified the rules of the game. In his version, players had to toss 7 to win. The American noblemen and higher society, however, rejected the dice game so the wealthy gambler started playing with the local underclass. Soon, craps (which might have also been a local mispronunciation of the English word crabs) became quite popular among the common people and was carried up the Mississippi River.

For decades, the dice game, although under different names, was played on the streets and by everyone. Various rules were adopted but in the majority of cases, the winning number remained 7, whereas 2 and 3 were considered the losing numbers.

John H. Winn and Bank Craps

For the next century, craps was mainly known as a street game and did not become a prominent casino game until the 20th century. It was abused by both players and gambling establishments who used fixed dice to cheat. In the early 1900s, however, American manufacturer of dice and playing cards John H. Winn introduced the “Don’t Pass” betting option, which allowed betting against the dice or, as it is also known, “wrong” betting.

His innovation effectively eliminated the practice of cheating, which allowed the game to receive more attention in gambling houses across the country. In 1907 Winn presented his new and improved version of the craps betting layout. It is precisely his betting layout that we use today in casino craps. For his innovations, John Winn is known as the Father of Modern Day Craps.

In 1931, gambling was officially legalized in Las Vegas and casinos started offering craps on their tables. Soon, the rules and payouts were standardized across all casinos and the game we know today as craps was created.

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

Playing Craps in Land-Based Casinos

Today, casino craps is basically the same game, which was played at the beginning of the 20th century. One or more players bet on the outcome of the roll of the two dice but instead of playing against each other, participants play against the casino. The table for craps is oval-shaped and covered with a green-colored betting layout where chips, rather than cash, are placed for the different bets. The bets, as well as the payouts, may vary across casinos.

The craps table is usually run by four casino employees and along with the players, there is also often a huge crowd of viewers. This is due to the nature of the game – compared to most casino games, craps is very fast and quite interesting since some players win, while others lose at the same time. Based solely on chance, it is a very superstitious game, too. As a result, there are numerous rules and very specific etiquette players are expected to follow when playing craps in a brick-and-mortar casino.

Online Craps

Craps can be played online, too, and this is what an increasing number of casino patrons prefer these days. Playing online is, in general, much more convenient and affordable than going to a brick-and-mortar casino. Online players do not have to spend money on travel, accommodation, and meals, or for tipping the casino staff. Instead, they can play craps for as little as $1 per game round while staying comfortably in their home.

Online craps comes with another huge advantage and this is the fact that it is much easier to play the game on the Internet. The speed of the game, the complexity of the betting process, and the huge number of people playing at the same time at land-based casinos might be quite intimidating for the less experienced players. The best way to eliminate the pressure from these is to relax and try to play the game from a computer or mobile device.

In virtual, RNG craps, players have full control of the speed of the game and they can refer to the rules or various strategies while playing. Moreover, they can also spend as much time as they wish to play craps for free. Most online casinos offer demo versions of their games where you can bet with play credits rather than real money. The social aspect of craps, however, cannot be replicated in an online casino even in the live dealer versions of the game, where you can chat with the casino staff and with other players.

Mobile Craps Games

Online casinos have been around since the 1990s but in the past decade, many online gambling operators also started offering mobile slots and table games. Some of them are optimizing their websites for mobile use so that players can easily open the games from the browsers on their phones and tablets. There are also many casino apps that give access to real-money casino games, including craps. They are developed for a specific type of device, however, so players should check whether they are available for download at the App Store or Google Play.


Ace Deuce



Any Craps

Any Seven


Betting Behind

Big 8 and Big 6


Box Numbers



Cold Dice

Come Out

Crap Out

Craps Numbers

Don’t Come

Don’t Pass

Easy Way

Even Money

Field Bet

Front Line


Hard Way


Hi-Lo Yo



Hot Dice

Inside Numbers


Lay Bet

Lay Odds

Little Joe

Marker Puck


Odds Bet

Outside Numbers


Pass Line

Place Bet


Proposition Bet

Right Betting


Seven Out


Take Odds

Whirl Bet

Wrong Betting


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