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
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
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.
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.
A bet that the dice will fall on 3
This is a bet on 2 and is also known as Snake Eyes for the pair of dice showing 1 each.
Bets that are still active on the table
This is a bet on any of the craps numbers, i.e. 2, 3 or 12
Also known as the Big Red, this bet wins when the shooter rolls a 7
This is the outer perimeter of the craps table
Placing odds on Pass/Don’t Pass or Come/Don’t Come bets
Big 8 and Big 6
Bets that 8 or 6 will be rolled before a 7
A slang for dice.
Place bets on the numbers 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, and 10
A bet on 12 (a pair of 6s). This bet is also called midnight or cornrows.
A bet on Any Craps (2, 3, and 12) and 11
The term refers to the unfortunate rolls of the dice when no player makes their point. A cold table is used in a similar fashion
The initial roll of the shooter
To toss 2, 3, or 12 on the come-out roll
The craps numbers or simply craps are 2, 3, and 12
A bet which functions as a Don’t Pass bet after the point has been established
One of the fundamental bets in craps and with it, players bet that the shooter will not make his point
Rolling an even number (4, 6, 8, 10) that is a combination of unlike numbers such as 1 and 3 for a 4
A bet that pays 1:1 or 1 to 1
The Field or Garden bet is a bet that the next roll will be a 2, 3, 4, 9, 10, 11 or 12
A synonym for the Pass Line bet
A player who gives the staff good tips
Rolling any of the numbers 4, 6, 8 or 10 with a pair (2-2, 3-3, 4-4, or 5-5)
A bet on 2 or 12
A bet on 2, 12 or 11
A single-roll bet for a specific combination of numbers that pays 15:1
A bet on 2, 3, 11, and 12
Also hot table; the expression refers to a game where players are hitting the established points or are rolling multiple times without sevening out
Place bets on 5, 6, 8, and 9
The commission or vig (from vigorish) taken by the casino on some bets
A bet that 7 will be rolled before the point
Odds placed on the Don’t Pass and Don’t Come bets
A slang term for a hard-way 4 (2-2)
This is a small plastic disk that shows the point; one side says “On” and the other “Off”
Rolling a 7 or 11 on the come-out roll
An additional wager placed on the Pass or Come bet that is a multiple of them
Place bets on 4, 5, 9, and 10
Taking the winnings from the previous bet and placing them as a new wager
A fundamental bet in craps made on the come-out roll; a bet that the shooter will make the point
A bet that a particular number (4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10) will be rolled before the 7
The number rolled or established by the come-out roll
A single-roll bet
Betting on the Pass Line
Also called a rack, the rail is the grooved section of the table where players store their chips
An expression used when the shooter rolls a 7 before making the point, thus losing the Pass Line bet
This is the player who tosses the dice
Placing an additional bet behind the Pass or Come bets
Also called a World bet, this a 5-unit wager on 2, 3, 7, 11, and 12
Betting that a 7 will be rolled before the point number appears
This is a bet on 11 and short for Yo-leven