How Did Craps Come About?
Nearly everyone who has been to a casino has tried a game of craps. It’s easy to play, always exciting, and seemingly simple enough that even new players can pick it up and give it a try after watching a game or two.
With as appealing as it can be for new players, you might not be surprised to learn that the game of craps has actually persisted in some form for hundreds of years under different names. Unlike other casino games that required the development of special cards or machines to play (looking at you, slots), craps has existed darn near the same way it’s played today from about the time dice were invented – which as you can imagine, was a very long time ago.
Historical records trace a lot of the dice games that would eventually influence and become craps back to ancient Egypt. A game known as ‘Theban dice’ was one of the earliest games of chance in the world, with archaeologists discovering ancient dice very similar to what would become craps later. From here it would reach ancient Rome and even the Middle East, where the game was referred to as azzahr (stemming from an ancient Arabic word for “dice”).
The English-speaking world would eventually get ahold of this game and, not really knowing how to pronounce the original name wound up calling it “Hazard”. Hazard would be well-established by the early 1700s; a set of two dice are rolled once per player to determine who the highest roll goes to, with the lowest roll being referred to as “crabs” which may have come from the French word crapeaud, meaning toad.
Starting to sound a little familiar now, right? The French influence came from a slight variation of hazard played in France called – you guessed it – crapeaud, a game generally played on the streets or outside of traditional gaming halls. Much like how the term “hazard” came about, ‘crabs’ slowly mutated into ‘craps’, and the formal rules started to come into the picture!
The type of craps most commonly encountered as a casino table game is called ‘bank craps’ or ‘casino craps’ and has a lot in common with both hazard and crapeaud. Casino craps tends to stand out by offering more regimented betting, more table workers to monitor the dice and keep the game flowing, and adding additional phases and rolls (as opposed to the one-roll-per-player style) to heighten the game a little bit.
After craps was finalized and popularized, it’s remained basically unchanged to this day! That’s part of the appeal, really – simple, timeless, easy to pick up but with a lot of variations and strategies to think about while you’re playing. All of this has helped to keep craps as one of the most popular casino table games around. Next time you’re at Greektown, why not give it a try yourself?