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Craps is a descendant of an ancient game called Hazard and the origins of both are a matter of debate. Hazard was claimed to have been invented by the Englishman, Sir William of Tyre and his knights, during the crusades. It is said to have been a pastime for the crusaders while laying siege to a castle called Hazarth or Asart in 1125 AD. The name of Hazard is therefore supposed to be a corruption of the castle's name. However the Encyclopaedia Britannica says the name came from the Arabic words 'al zar' or 'azzah' which means simply "the dice". This would seem to imply the game is Arabic in origin.

Whoever invented it, Hazard became a hugely popular English game. Geoffrey Chaucer mentions it in the Canterbury Tales frequently and it was played by the English through the centuries. Luxurious gambling houses in 17th century England staged games of Hazard and fortunes were lost by the higher classes and noblemen.

The French took up playing Hazard and it is claimed that they changed the name to Craps, using and corrupting the name given to a losing throw of 2 in the game of Hazard, known as crabs. However there is no documented evidence to support this and the name is almost certainly American in origin.

Some claim that the French took the game to America while others think it probably came with the British. The earliest British settlers, perhaps on the Mayflower, would almost certainly have played with dice.

Whoever brought Craps to America it was here that the game was simplified to become the game of Craps that we know today. The French settlers where displaced by the British and moved south to eventually become Cajuns. It has been said they took the game of Hazard south with them. It is also in the south that the development and invention of the game of Craps is attributed to African Americans in the early 19th century

Old West Gambling,Frontier Gambling,Old West

The game spread to the riverboats on the Mississippi and then from there to the rest of the country until a dice maker, John H. Winn developed the game further so that players could bet with the shooter or against him. This development negated the usefulness of playing with crooked dice, a common practice at the time. Winn is known as the father of modern Craps and his development became the modern 20th century casino game of Bank Craps with layouts and tables.

Any number may play. Each person in turn may, as the shooter, toss two dice in attempting to roll a winning combination. Before the first throw the shooter puts up a stake, and the other players fade it, i.e., bet against the shooter up to the amount of the stake. The shooter must withdraw any part of his stake that is not faded. If he wins, he may continue to shoot and bet again, as much or as little as he wants; or he may give up the dice. If the shooter loses, the other players take away double the amount they faded. The other players also may bet among themselves as to whether the shooter will win or lose in the next series of throws or whether certain numbers or combinations will appear.

If the shooter throws a 7 or 11 (natural) on his first roll, he wins; if he rolls 2, 3, or 12 (craps) on the first roll, he loses. Bets are settled. The shooter keeps the dice and puts up the next bet or passes the dice to the player on his left, and the game continues. If the shooter's first throw is 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, or 10, that number is his point, and he continues to throw until he rolls the same number again (makes his point) and wins or throws 7 (misses out, or craps out) and loses both his bet and the dice. Side bets may be laid with or against the shooter, either before he has a point (coming out) or after (will or won't make his point).

Craps was a fast paced game back in the time of Bat Masterson and Wyatt Earp but it is even faster today. The rules have evolved over time making for a very fast game in which all players can become involved at any time.