Ancient Craps History: Hazard
Modern Craps gambling starts in New Orleans, but Craps' most direct predecessor - Hazard - dates back to the Middle Ages. It has been proved that dice games were among, if not the first games ever played. Recently, archaeologists discovered numbered bones dating back to 6000 BC. In other words, following Craps history means following a long and winding road; it's no wonder game aficionados disagree on its path.
There are a few Craps secrets that can be irrefutably verified. As mentioned before, the game of Hazard is a direct precursor to the game that we know today, and its roots are firmly tied to the Middle Ages. Hazard was derived from a dice game called "Azzahr", which was brought to Europe with the returning Crusaders and was anglicized in the 16th Century by European gamblers.
Like so many other games, Hazard traveled across the Atlantic with Europeans colonizing the new world and took hold in French Canada. It later moved south with the first French settlers of New Orleans. In America, this intriguing game changed form, both in terms of its rules and its name.
But of all the unsolved Craps secrets, the game's name is one of the biggest points of contention.
Craps History: What's in a name?
There are two logical theories as to how the name "Craps" came about. The first theory asserts that it is simple a Creole-accented pronunciation of "crabs" which is another name for the game's losing combination of two ones.
The second theory suggests that Craps is an abbreviated form of the French word "crapauds," meaning "toads." New Orleans dice players were often called crapauds because of the way they crouched while playing.
Craps History: World Domination
Whichever naming theory you support, there's no arguing over how quickly Craps gambling caught on.
It first became popular among the poor because the only things needed to play were two dice. Thus, street games became a common sight in the south.
But it didn't take long for other gamblers to embrace the game. While cards were the preferred distraction on the old riverboats, Craps games also quickly gained favor among Mississippi travelers. From there, it wasn't long until land-based gambling halls and casinos adopted the game.
By the 20th Century, the dice game with the funny name was a staple at gambling establishments throughout the world. The casino version of the game introduced an elaborate table layout and betting structure and as many as four casino employees, among them a croupier and a stickman.
Craps History: Internet Craps
Craps history doesn't end there, though. At the end of the 20th Century, the popular pastime took on a new form: internet Craps. This "play anywhere" model made the game accessible to everyone. It also stripped away the elaborate casino etiquette, making it easier for amateur and low stakes players to play Craps. These days dice fans can play real-time online games via their TVs or mobile phones.
Craps History: The Future
Despite the widespread availability of the game, little has changed in the way of rules. Apart from the animations and automated playing features, internet Craps is very similar to the first casino Craps games played almost two hundred years ago.
It's hard to believe that a game that involves little more than two dice has so thoroughly conquered the gambling world. One has to wonder how Craps history will change in the next century.