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Craps – Where does the name come from?

  • April 24, 2017
  • By Nick Vincent

Craps is a dice game in which the players roll a pair of dice and make wagers on the outcome. These wagers may be against other players (“street craps” or “shooting dice” or “rolling dice”) or a bank (“casino craps” or “table craps”).

Dice games were among the first games that existed over 2,000 years ago. And with the popularity of the internet, some of the best online casinos have developed their own versions of the game.

But how did this relatively simple dice game get its peculiar name?

It is said to have evolved out of an old game that was known as “Hazard”, whose beginnings are also rather uncertain. It is supposed to have first been played during the second Crusades around 1125 A.D., when it was also known as “Hazart”, as a result of Sir William and his troops finding a castle named “Hazarth”. The dice game was a pastime for them while laying siege to the castle.


The procedure for playing the game was rather similar, with a dice roller or “caster” who had to make a “main” point, then a “change” point, and then would finally roll until that happened.

In the 17th century, Hazard (or the game of craps) became widely popular in England and you could find people playing the game in every tavern around. The name “craps” came from the Frenchmen who later changed the name from Hazard in order to distinguish them from the Englishmen. Craps is a version of the word “crabs” which described a losing roll of 2 in the lingo of Hazard, the roll we now call “snake eyes”. It is believed that over time “crabs” turned into “craps”.

There is another theory regarding the origin of the name, connecting it to the Arabic dice game that was known as “Az Zar”, which, translated, means “dice”.

By the early 1800s the rules of the game had been simplified, and regardless of which of the stories is the truth, it was John H. Winn in New Orleans who further developed the game in the 19th century, who is known as the father of the modern game of craps played around the world today. This final evolution of the game took the country by storm as it swept through America and is, perhaps, the most popular game in American casinos.


By Nick Vincent, April 24, 2017