Craps History -- Where Did the Name Come From?

May 11, 2014

There is a certain aura about the game of craps. It is one of those casino games that is generally more exciting to watch and/or participate in when it is in the land-based environment, and takes on a bit of a different character when it is played online. But either way, it is filled with intrigue. But how did this game gets its name? Certainly it is a curious moniker, is it not?

Well, it is said to have evolved out of an old game that was known as "Hazard" which had beginnings that are rather uncertain. Supposedly it may have first been played during the second Crusades around 1125 A.D., when it was also known as "Hazart." The basic procedure was somewhat similar to what you would recognize now, in that there is a dice roller (or "caster") who had to make a "main" point, then a "change" point, and ultimately he would roll until that happened. However, rolling a 2, 3 or 12 was known as a "crab" and the shooter would be out of the game.

Again, things are somewhat murky, but some historians say that the game was extremely popular among English soldiers, and eventually became a pastime of choice among the so-called "upper crust." The legend is that when the French eventually adopted the game, they misinterpreted the pronunciation of the term "crabs" and that is how we came to the name "craps." This is not necessarily the exact story, but it is at least one version of it.

If you want other versions that have been passed on, well, one of them was that there is evidence that something in the way of what eventually became craps may have existed in Egypt around 600 B.C., by virtue of the fact that a single die was found. There was a connection to the Roman Empire that has been cited, not to mention an ancient Arabic dice game that was known as "Az Zar," which, translated, means "dice."

There is another "theory" about the origin of the name, which have found it placed around the time that the French picked up on the game, which is said, by some, to have emanated from the word "crapaud," which actually means "toad." How a toad might have had some relationship to a pair of dice is not really known, but some casino players are probably glad that they aren't saying "I won a thousand dollars tonight playing toad."

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