The history of craps might date back to the time of the Crusades in the 12th and 13th centuries. The French knights who went to the Holy Land to fight Islam brought back many influences, including algebra, new poetic styles, and lost Greco-Roman writings. Apparently, gambling on dice games might have been one influence. The French quickly added their own complicated rules to the game, making it their own.
The game received its name from the French word “crapaud”, which means “toad”. Early dice shooters are thought to have crouched like a toad when playing the game, much like they do in television and movie depictions of back-alley craps games. The tales of the game’s origin in the Crusades could be apocryphal, though, because craps might have come from other antecedents.
Dice games have existed for thousands of years. For instance, a form of backgammon is thought to have been played in the Burnt City of Iran as early as 3000 B.C. While the Hebrew practice of casting lots was not (normally) a form of gambling, the Biblical depiction of Roman soldiers casting lots for the dead Jesus’s clothes certainly reminds one of gambling.
The English dice game “Hazard” might well be the progenitor of craps. Hazard is mentioned in Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, which was written in the 1370s or 1380s. The English and the French were locked in the Hundred Years War at the time, as the English kings sought to control half (or more) of the Kingdom of France. Americans forget how close England and France are, and therefore how much influence each has had on the culture of the other. Paris and London are a little over 200 miles apart.
With the intricate diplomacy of the times and soldiers frequently changing sides in the conflicts, in the earlier days, Hazard might well have influenced the French to create their own dice game. Later in its history, Hazard certainly played a key role in the development of craps.
In England in the 17th, 18th, and early 19th centuries, Hazard became a popular game with the English-speaking peoples. Bernard de Marigny, a French-Creole nobleman living in the French-controlled Mississippi River Valley, visited England and learned to play Hazard.
De Marigny, whose full name was Jean-Bernard Xavier Philippe de Marigny de Mandeville, borrowed a number of ideas from the English dice game and simplified those concepts into modern craps. He brought the game to New Orleans, where it first gained the name “crapaud”.
During World War II, a street-version of craps became a popular game among American soldiers. The G.I.s often did not have a proper surface to shoot their dice on, so they used Army blankets for their rolls.
Players often did not have a solid back wall for bouncing the dice as is proper in casinos versions, so this is when the first dice control methods are known to have been used. The first of these was called the “army blanket roll”. To this day, dice control methods in craps are controversial. Some respected experts say they are real, while others remain skeptical.
After the war, craps became a casino game in destination spots like Las Vegas and Monte Carlo. Soldiers were familiar with the game, in an era of affluence, Americans began to take their vacations in Sin City. By the 1950s, all Las Vegas casinos had their own craps tables. Over the course of the next generation, the traditional craps bets were added to the game.
Craps became popular, because it encouraged camaraderie among gamblers. Also, dice shooting is a naturally exciting form of gambling, due to the wild swings and quick game resolution. Even better, among the games with no distinguishable mathematical strategies to learn, craps has some of the best odds from a player’s perspective. Only the need to provide four staff members to a craps table kept the game from being featured more often in casinos across the United States–and around the globe.
When Internet gambling began to develop, online craps was one of the first games offered. With a random number generator and basic computer graphics, designers could simulate the roll of the dice. One big problem existed with online casino craps, though.
Craps is best enjoyed as a community game. Playing alongside a number of other colorful characters, sharing the ups and downs of gambling, is how dice is meant to be enjoyed. Online craps simply could not reproduce that experience in the early stages of development. As graphics, gameplay, and online interfaces have improved, the ability to have conversations though instant messages developed. Some players still wanted the old game played on the Internet, though.
Live dealer craps finally restored the game to its original look and feel. These days, players can enjoy real craps streamed live from a gambling studio via the same live streaming technology used for Netflix and Hulu videos.
Also, mobile craps applications exist which allow players to gamble using their Android smartphones, iPhones, and iPad tablet computers. Simply go to a mobile casino and click on the appropriate craps apps link. This takes you to Android Marketplace or iTunes or some other appropriate downloadable apps page.