A Short History of Craps
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So, you want to know where this wild and wonderful game came from? Here are three possible explanations.
|According to Richard Epstein, craps is descended from an earlier game known as Hazard, that dates to the Middle Ages. The formal rules for Hazard were established by Montmort early in the 1700s. The origin of the name craps is shrouded in doubt, but it may have come from the English crabs, or from the French Crapeaud (for toad).
There is also evidence that a form of craps can be dated back to the time of the Holy Roman Empire. Soldiers in the Roman Legions used to shave down pig knuckles into the shapes of cubes, and toss them onto their inverted shields as a form of entertainment while in camp. Hence we get the term 'to roll the bones'.
Harley davidson slot machine worth. We do know that the game we know today as 'craps' came to the United States from Europe.
There are two general forms of craps played today - 'Street Craps' and 'Bank Craps'.
Street Craps is the game you find played, well, on the street. A shooter establishes a point, then tries to make that point. Bettors either bet with the shooter (on the point) or against the shooter (on the 7). Someone must 'fade' the shooter (cover the bet) in order for the game to progress.
Bank Craps is what we normally see in the casino. The 'bank' part of the name comes from the fact that someone, or something (like a casino) must 'bank' the game; that is, cover all bets of the players. In this manner, the players are playing against the house.
Here is another take on the history of the game, by author Mark Pilarski. The following was reprinted from an article that appeared in “Craps Companion - #7” (http://craps.casino.com):Gaminator slot machines online.
Back before the Middle Ages, the Arabs played a game using little numbered cubes, called azzahr (meaning 'the
In 1755, the French lost Acadia to the English who promptly renamed it Nova Scotia and chucked out the French-speaking Acadians, who roamed around a bit and finally relocated in Louisiana, where they were called (as they still are) Cajuns, and developed a language called Louisiana French. They still played the good old dice game, but dropped the title of hasard and called the game simply crebs or creps, which was their spelling of the French crabes.
By 1843, the Cajun word came into American English as craps. People were apparently careful for a while not to omit the final s for fear of confusion with a slang term having a totally different meaning, but that's another story.
By 1885, such expressions as crapsgame, crapstable, and crapsshooter were found to be just too finicky so the final s was dropped where it served no useful purpose as in composites like craptable, crapshooter, crapgame, etc., and retained where it refers only to the game (game of craps) or the losing roll (he craps out, he rolled craps) or where it would be too hard to pronounce (she crapped out, rather than she crapsed out).
Well fellow crapshooters, do you have a clearer picture yet? I asked a colleague of mine, whom I dealt craps with at Lake Tahoe what she thought of the above, and she said that I was really full of craps!
(Editors Note: Mark Pilarski survived 18 years in the casino trenches, working for seven different casinos in Northern Nevada. Mark now writes a nationally syndicated gambling column, is a university lecturer, and is the creator of the best-selling, award-winning audiocassette series on casino gambling, Hooked on Winning. His entire book, Deal Me In, can be found online at his web site: http://markpilarski.com )
Here is yet another take on the history of the game, this time by noted author Frank Scoblete. The following was reprinted from an article that appeared in “Craps Companion - #6” (http://craps.casino.com):
'Roll dem bones.' I'm sure craps players have heard that line many, many times before. In fact, just about every craps player says it at some time or another. It is the oldest expression in the books. It is the oldest expression even before there were books. Come to think of it, it is the oldest expression even before there was papyrus.
“Roll dem bones” was a practice made perfect by thousands of years of trial and tribulation going back to a time when men and women wore fur and no one protested. You see, the original material for “dice” was literally bone; the ankle bones of sheep (called astragals) or the bones of other animals (called bones of other animals) and even the bones of people. (“Take grandpappy's remains out of the case, Og, he's gonna roll tonight!”
These bones were used to divine the will of, well, the divines, as in the gods, the angels, and the demons who flitted in and out of our world. These bones were also used to ask the “ancients”who look over us and out for us, what we should do about this, that and those other things. (What I always wonder about those “ancients” that look over and out for us is - do they watch us having sex? I mean does my sainted grandmother, Nana Rose, actually watch me doing IT? Are there huge cheering galleries of “ancients” hanging around everyone's bedroom waiting for you know what? Do these “ancients” bet on timing, technique and talent? God, I hope not.)
Of course, the first “bone rollers” were not interested in casino gambling as they had far more serious gambles in mind, like war and love and crop planting and pillaging everything they could. They rolled “dem bones” and then figured out whether their local god, or angel, or demon, or “ancient” was urging them to make love, not war, with their significant other local tribesmen or tribeswomen. They also decided whether it was best to lay waste the neighboring tribe's city and decimate their cattle and crops, or whether it was just best to leave everything as it was and not upset the apple carts of the local neighbors . . . or whatever carts they had that were carrying whatever they had in them.
Naturally they decided which, among all these things, theywould do by reading the symbols they carved into the bones or by reading the combinations of symbols that came up depending on how many of “dem bones” dey, excuse me, they were rolling.
Naturally, sometimes they guessed right. (Grandpappy's bones say lay waste to yonder city! Hooray, he was right! We laid it waste, everyone! Let's party because our enemies are now our servants!) And, naturally they sometimes guessed wrong. (“Yonder citizens were huge and they kicked our boney buttocks. Thanks, grandpappy, you bonehead; it didn't work! Now we are serving our enemies at their victory party as they all shout out Skoal!”)
Indeed, our primitive forebears were not so much differentfrom us. Indeed, the women complained that the men didn't respect them and that the men were disgusting pigs who had only one thing on their minds, and you know what that was - football! But I digress. What I mean to say is: indeed, many an atavistic trait can be seen in today's craps players, apart from the “roll dem bones” expression. We craps players are in some very real way waiting for the judgment of the gods of fate when we watch the bones hop, skip and jump their way down the felt to the end of the table. Sure, we might not find out if we can loot the neighboring village on any given roll, but we most definitely find out whether we're won some loot, lost some loot, or preserved our loot to play again without delay.Perhaps that's why craps is the most exciting game in the casino. Perhaps we craps players understand in some dim but deep way our connection to our primal pasts when we pick up “dem bones”, and shake, rattle, then roll them. Perhaps, we acknowledge our antecedents at craps in a way we cannot do at any other game. Perhaps, blackjack and poker players might disagree with this assessment, as the tarot is as old as civilization. But “dem bones” go back in time much further, all the way back to pre-civilization; to fields, and plains, and caves. Perhaps when we play, we craps players go back in time, in our own genetic time machine, to the dawn of our species. By the looks of the foreheads of the guys I was playing with last night - perhaps some of us go back even further!
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'Dem Bones' (also called 'Dry Bones' and 'Dem Dry Bones') is a spiritual song. The melody was composed by author and songwriter James Weldon Johnson (1871–1938) and his brother, J. Rosamond Johnson. First recorded by The Famous Myers Jubilee Singers in 1928. Both a long and a shortened version of the song are widely known. The lyrics are inspired by Ezekiel 37:1-14, where the prophet Ezekiel visits the 'Valley of Dry Bones' and prophesies that they will one day be resurrected at God's command, picturing the realization of the New Jerusalem.
The chorus and verses are noted for many variations among performers, but fall into the following style. The second verse reverses the first in a pattern similar to:
- The neck bone (dis)connected from the head bone
- … etc…
Fred Waring and his Pennsylvanians recorded the song on 30 April 1947 and released it on the 78 rpm record Decca 23948. The Delta Rhythm Boys recorded it in 1950 under the name 'Dry Bones'.
A recording of the song by the Canadian vocal group The Four Lads was featured prominently in 'Fall Out', the final episode of the 1967-68 science fiction series, The Prisoner. The song is also performed at several points in the episode, most notably when the character of Number 48 spontaneously begins to lip sync to the recording in order to disrupt a ceremony involving the show's protagonist, Number 6. Later, several characters are shown dancing to the same recording.
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Fred Gwynne performs a solo version, accompanying himself on guitar, in a 1965 episode of the Munsters: 'Will Success Spoil Herman Munster'.
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- ^'Locust St'. Retrieved 1 November 2014.
- ^'Dry Bones, Valley of,' in Dictionary of Biblical Tradition in English Literature, David L. Jeffery, editor. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, November 1, 1992, pages 216-217, ISBN0-8028-3634-8
- ^Entry for Decca 23948 on http://www.discogs.com (including image of disc label). Accessed 13 March 2012.