Introducing Craps

Today, most people believe - at least, most of the time that only the odds, and the laws of probability, affect the tossing of a coin, or the roll of the dice.

Religious attitudes about cutting into cubes have since disappeared and, no orthodox religion today feels threatened by a return of popular belief in pagan religions, the cult of IS-IS, or voodoo.

With the relaxation of settlement objections to the game, all chance games are making a comeback, and dice games, as always, are driving the field.

For centuries, ministers sermonized against dicing, reminding their congregations that the Romans had cast lots at the foot of the cross for the clothing of the crucified Christ.

Now, one could from time to time even find a mini-casino, complete with craps disposal, installed in the basement of the church for the annual fundraising campaign.

Craps has always been a leader in the casinos of Europe, England, and Nevada. Like poker, and few other casino games, craps are also popular for private gambling. In every big city in America, you can still see grown men squatting in a circle on the street, searching the whole world like kids playing marbles.

Instead of the marbles to play with, there are those two little fascinating cubes, and instead of the marbles to lose, there's good green from Uncle Sam.

In craps, unlike blackjack, there is no dealer. They do not even need to be anyone who plays for the house or, in fact, no house at all. But the reason craps is perennial number one in all the big casinos in Las Vegas, and now in Atlantic City, is that no game offers such dazzling action.

The speed of a crap game, dizzy doubling of wins - or more often, losses - is unmatched by any other game, in or out of a casino.

The game craps derives probably from the French game of dice of danger, in which the lowest shot, double one, was called "crabs". This last word, interesting, was a French loan from English, which probably gave French the game of dice, too.

The game of craps comes via French, because so much of the game in America was concentrated in New Orleans, and was separated in its French versions by the players of the boat.

It was in New Orleans in the days before the Louisiana Purchase that the slowest and most soothing hazard game developed in its American cousin racy, craps.

It is said that African-American slaves were responsible for this transformation, perhaps by analogy with a game or practice of their own culture.

By the 19th century, craps were firmly established as a game of American chance, making up in speed and enthusiasm what it lacked in associations with the European class.