Why is the Casino Game Called Craps?

Why is the Casino Game Called Craps?

Craps But Why

The casino dice game craps offers some of the best odds of any table game. How did an ancient back alley gamble turn into one of the biggest online casino games? The history of Craps may surprise you, as it’s shrouded in mystery and intrigue. 

Why is the Game Called Craps?

There is some argument about where the name comes from. Known as Krabs in Britain, the French lost the name in translation. The word ‘Craps’ was a mispronunciation from Louisiana casino river boats. The French brought the game down from Canada in the 1700’s to Nova Scotia.
The thick Cajun-French accent mispronounced the ‘b’ to a ‘p’ shifting the game’s history.

From Krabs to Craps

Krabs was a slang term out of the British dice game of Hazard, and is a reference to rolling two ones looking like krab eyes.

The term snake eyes wasn’t invented until after craps was popularized in America.

Hazard is a 2000 year old game that is similar to street craps, predicated on only the pass line bets seen at online craps casinos. 

Other Crabs to Craps Theories

Another theory is that Krabs refers to a British epithet for the numbers 2 and 3. These were aristocratic references to specific royalty. This may have just been period slang for a couple of loser and has less overall support.
The least supported theory is that craps was a mistake made by writer Jonathon Green in 1843, writing the first recorded use in his book “An Exposure of the Arts and Miseries of Gambling.”

Some historians think this one man shifted public use of the word crabs to craps. 

Recorded Uses of the Word Crabs

The earliest recorded or written use of the word crabs was in reference to the game Hazard.  Selwyn Earl of Carlisle wrote in 1768, “I hope you have left off hazard. If you are still so foolish, and will play, the best thing I can wish you is that you may win and never throw crabs.”

Craps History

The origin of craps is a much deeper story. The recognition that seven is the most common number that two six sided dice can produce has been around at least three millenia. Craps has some connection to over a dozen ancient dice games.

The Ancient Origin of Modern Craps

The history of craps begins in one of two places, ancient Rome or ancient Mesopotamia. It could simply be that both regions found uses for six sided dice. 
The Roman soldiers played a game of pig knuckle bones rolled on their shields. It’s unclear how close to craps this game actually was.  They played with four dice in a game called Tali, and wanted to roll all different numbers on the four sided dice. Their game used the terms Venus, Vulture and Senio for a win, and no real terms equivalent to crapping out. 
The ancient Iraqis played a game called Al Dar, a dice game that was born of The Royal Game of Ur, the game regarded as the oldest board game of all time. Al Dar used six sided dice and was popular among merchants. 

The Royal Game of Ur. Date: 2600-2400 BC. Place of origin: Iraq,Royal Cemetery Period/culture:Early Dynastic III. Medium: Wood, shell. Now on display at the British Museum. The Royal game of Ur is an ancient game and not everything about the game is known including its name. pic.twitter.com/217HAz8YVp

— Archaeology & Art (@archaeologyart) May 15, 2022

The Origin of Hazard, the Craps Precursor

Hazard comes from Castle Asart, Sir William of Tyre’s home in 1125. In Hazard, the losing throw was two ones and the winning throw a seven. There were few rules, but you could see the importance of the crabs (two ones) in this nine hundred year old game. 

The History of Modern Casino Craps

To you, casino craps would be unrecognizable until the early nineteen hundreds. John H Winn invented the don’t pass line and other craps bets as a way to reduce casino exploitation and the prevalence of loaded dice. Casino craps wouldn’t have its place as the world’s most wagered game if not for Las Vegas opening for gambling in 1931. 

Author: Tamara Kim