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Casino Craps History

The casino game of craps, evolved over thousands of years, is inextricably interwoven with the development of humanity. Prehistoric cavemen cast six-sided bones called "Astragalas" that came from the ankles of clove-footed animals. The mythology of ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome, relates how the gods amused themselves at dice, with the destiny of the world riding on the outcome. Dice have been found in the ruins of Pompeii and in the burial chambers of the pyramids. The pharaohs, as well as the Caesars, rolled dice for amusement, gain, divination, and judicial decision. When Julius Caesar defied the Roman Senate and led his victorious army across the Rubicon, he took his announcement from the vocabulary of the dice shooter: "Iacta alea est", "the die is cast".

Even in the age of chivalry, knights entertained themselves, and their ladies, with games of dice. Gaming schools and guilds flourished, although, by then, gambling was frowned on by the church, and was frequently prohibited. Then, as now, the nobility was exempted, and the laws were enforced against the lower classes, especially on working days.

Today's casino craps can be traced directly to the game of hazard, first played by English Crusaders during the siege of an Arabian castle in the twelfth century. Tosses of 2, 3, or 12 were referred to as "crabs". By the early 1800's, when the game was introduced to America in the port city of New Orleans, "crabs" had become "craps", and the rules had nearly evolved to those used today. Spreading rapidly up the Mississippi with the riverboat gamblers, and across the country via Pullman-car sharks, craps quickly replaced faro as the most popular gambling game. John H. Winn is credited with banking the first craps game permitting right and wrong betting, charging bettors a 5% commission. Shortly after, Winn designed the "Philadelphia Layout", very much like the craps layout of today, and included a don't-pass line which eventually developed into the Don't Pass Bar 12 line, and eliminated the 5% commission. This feature took the game out of the streets and into the casinos.

Although the house's edge can be reduced to less than one percent, it will prevail in the long run. Yet players who understand the rules and procedures of the game, which bets are more favorable, which bets to avoid, how to recognize and capitalize on a winning streak, and when to quit, can get a lot of fun and excitement for their money, and from time to time go home with a bundle.

Many people confess their complete ignorance of the casino game of craps. Some men, especially veterans, played a street game of dice which is quite different from bank craps as played in most casinos. In any case, the concept of craps is quite simple and easy to understand.

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