Big Wins and Famous Stories: Legendary Moments in Craps History

Rolling dice and wagering on the outcome are among the most ancient forms of gambling. Of course, countless dice game categories have existed over the past few centuries, but craps remains the most popular today. It can be easily proved by the fact that it is played not only in casinos throughout New Zealand and the rest of the globe but also in the comfort of home during parties or gatherings of friends.

The uninitiated might find craps a little bewildering, but after several rounds of it on iGaming sites like MrBet, everyone tends to change their opinion. You just have to hit the correct numbers and stack up the chips, but if you roll them wrong, you crap out. But where did this legendary title come from? This quick read will take you through some of the incredible moments of the game’s history.  

Ancient Times

While craps is undoubtedly among the best casino games to have stayed on for centuries, the answer to who exactly invented this amusement often comes with a little toss-up. A dice is man’s oldest known gaming device. Sophocles, the ancient Greek writer, mentioned that the game came into being during the siege of Troy. But we now understand that dice games began way earlier than that.

Excavators discovered the oldest known dice at an Iranian archeological site, dating from almost 3,000 BC. Moreover, dice versions have been discovered aged thousands of years as far and wide as India and Ancient Rome, often comprising animal bone constructions with scored markings.

Hazard and ‘The Canterbury Tales’

Most historians trace the roots of craps as we know it today back to the Roman era. Soldiers then used to shave down pig knuckles into dice resembling cubes and played games by tossing them into inverted shields. It’s unclear whether this gameplay influenced the rules of the modern title, but this is definitely the origin of the phrase ‘rolling the bones.’

The generally accepted origin story suggests that this amusement has its roots in a similar dice game from England called Hazard. Sir William of Tyre and his knights are credited for creating the game during the 1125 circa Crusades. They played it to pass the time while waiting to attack Hazarth castle. Players took turns to serve as casters who threw two dice and placed bets. Like its modern equivalent, the rounds depended on whether casters rolled a particular number or avoided others.

Hazard gained popularity gradually in the English Middle Ages. Geoffrey Chaucer repeatedly referenced this chance-based entertainment in The Canterbury Tales, one of the most iconic literary works. In addition, this dice-based title regularly graced the legacy of English gambling houses established between the 17th and 18th centuries. Hazard reached France around the same period, and the locals named it Crabs, a nickname for the worst possible roll (two). Several decades later, the game went across the Atlantic to Acadia, a French colony comprising parts of Maine and Canada.

Penetration Into America

The English took control of Acadia, and the French inhabitants moved southwards to Louisiana. They shared their knowledge of the gameplay as they trekked. At that point, it was called Creps or Crebs. Creps’ popularity surged in 1805 when gambler and nobleman Bernard de Marigny set foot in New Orleans. He created a simplified version requiring speculators to roll a seven, the most likely roll. But this game failed to court approval among the social and wealthy elite and was adopted by the poorer working classes.

Workers would play the game on boats heading to the Mississippi River, predominantly broadening the title’s popularity. Rollers played it regularly in back alleys and streets as regularly as in casinos. It was during this period that rollers finally settled on Craps as the game’s primary name.

Meet the Father of Modern Craps

While the game featured in numerous casinos at this point, different versions of the rule existed. This proved controversial, and some casinos leveraged rigged dice to gain a house edge. In 1907, John H. Winn, a dice maker, devised a set of rules to standardize the game. The rules are still used, earning Winn the title ‘Father of modern Craps.’ His popular innovations included a refined table and the ‘don’t pass bet.’

Casinos quickly adopted these consistent and expanded rules as they guaranteed a house edge simply through payouts. Since there was no need for rigged dice, the game’s initial sketchy image quickly eroded. Craps’ prevalence slowly gained during the 20th century. American soldiers played it during the Second World War, extending the game’s global appeal beyond the working class. In the 1960s, Carribean and Las Vegas casinos capitalized on this popularity by installing more tables for this amusement, while others globally followed suit afterward.

Biggest Wins by Craps Players

Some of the most notable payouts that gamblers have collected from a lucky roll on a casino table include the following:

Player NameBig WinYearLocation
William Lee Bergstrom$1.4 million1980Horseshoe Casino in Downtown Las Vegas
Stanley Fujitake$1 million1989California Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas
Kerry Packer$30 million1997MGM Grand Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas

A Staple in Modern Gaming

Today, craps tables are often the base of modern gambling establishments. The game is part of the popular culture, featuring in multiple musicals and movies. Its profile has grown thanks to big-size tournaments offering six-figure rewards, like the WCC. In addition, players strive to join the Golden Arm Club, the game’s hall of fame for rollers who can shoot without losing for over an hour. 

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