Craps is a dice game in which the players make wagers on the outcome of the roll, or a series of rolls, of a pair of dice. Players may wager money against each other or a bank. Because it requires little equipment, can be played in informal settings. While shooting craps, players may use slang terminology to place bets and actions. Craps developed in the United States from a simplification of the western European game of hazard. The origins of hazard are obscure and may date to the Crusades. Hazard was brought from London to New Orleans in approximately 1807 by the returning Bernard Xavier Philippe de Marigny de Mandeville, the young gambler and scion of a family of wealthy colonial Louisiana landowners. Although in hazard the dice shooter may choose any number from five to nine to be the main number, de Marigny simplified the game such that the main number is always seven, the optimal choice among knowledgeable hazard players. Both hazard and its new offshoot were unfamiliar and rejected by Americans of his social class, leading de Marigny to introduce his novelty to the local underclass. Field hands taught their friends, and deckhands carried the new game up the Mississippi River. Celebrating the popular success of his novelty, de Marigny gave the name craps to a street in his New Orleans real estate development.
The central game, called pass, from the French word for pace or step, has been gradually supplemented over the decades by many companion games which can be played simultaneously. The entire collection of over one hundred separate and independent possible games is called craps. The name craps was a Louisiana mispronunciation of the word crabs, which in London had been the joint epithet for the numbers two and three, which in hazard are the only permanent instant losing numbers for wagers on Pass. For a century after its invention, craps was abused by casinos using unfair dice. To remedy the problem, in approximately 1907, a Philadelphia dice maker named John H. Winn introduced a layout which featured bets on both Pass and Don’t Pass. Most modern casinos use his innovation.
Craps exploded in popularity during World War II, which brought most young American men of every social class into the military. The street version of craps was popular among soldiers, who often played it using a blanket as a shooting surface. Their military memories led to craps becoming the dominant game in postwar Las Vegas. Players use casino chips rather than cash to bet on the Craps layout, a fabric surface which displays the various bets. The bets vary somewhat among casinos in availability, locations, and payouts. The tables roughly resemble bathtubs and come in various sizes. In some locations, chips may be called checks, tokens, or plaques. Against one long side is the casino’s table bank: as many as two thousand casino chips in stacks of 20. The opposite long side is usually a long mirror. The U shaped ends of the table have duplicate layouts and standing room for approximately eight players. In the center of the layout is an additional group of bets which are used by players from both ends. The vertical walls at each end are usually covered with a rubberized target surface covered with small pyramid shapes to randomize the dice which strike them. The top edges of the table walls have one or two horizontal grooves in which players may store their reserve chips.
The table is run by up to four casino employees a box man seated behind the casino’s bank, who manages the chips, supervises the dealers, and handles coloring up players exchanging small chip denominations for larger denominations in order to preserve the chips at a table two base dealers who stand to either side of the box man and collect and pay bets to players around their half of the table and a stickman who stands directly across the table from the box man, takes and pays the bets in the center of the table, announces the results of each roll and moves the dice across the layout with an elongated wooden stick.