Game of the Month: Hazard and Craps

by Dagonell the Juggler

Sir William of Tyre claimed that he and his fellow knights invented the game of Hazard during the crusades under Charlemagne. They did it to pass the time while laying siege to the castle of Hazarth in 1125. This would imply that the game is named after the castle. The Encyclopedia Britannica however, states that game takes its name from the Arabic words 'al zar', which means simply, 'the dice'. Geoffrey Chaucer makes frequent mention of the game in his Canterbury Tales as an analogy for life, with runs of both good and bad luck.

Hoyle's Book of Games says that Hazard is simply another name for the game Craps. This is incorrect. Craps is a simplification of Hazard that was created by the French in the late sixteenth century. The name comes from the English slang term for a roll of two or three, 'craps' which comes from the French slang term 'krabs'.

The Hazard game in the Dungeon and Dragon manuals is actually a casino game called Grand Hazard. Modern gambling casinos invented the game to separate tourists from their money. Serious gamblers won't play it because the payoff odds are ludicrous.

TO PLAY CRAPS: The dice roller, who is called the 'shooter' accepts bets from the players betting against him, who are called the 'faders'. If the first roll is 7 or 11, this is a 'natural' and the shooter wins immediately and may play again. If the first roll is 2, 3, ('craps') or 12, ('boxcars') the shooter loses his bet but retains control of the dice and may play again. Any other roll is the shooter's 'point'. Different point totals have different odds and the faders may make additional bets with the shooter or among themselves.

The shooter now tries to re-roll his point without rolling a seven first. If he rolls a seven, he loses both his bet and control of the dice. If he rolls or 'makes' his point, he wins his bet and may play again.

TO PLAY HAZARD: The shooter first tries to roll a 'main point' or 'faders point', a total between 5 and 9 inclusively. Any other point total is re-rolled. After a main point has been established, the shooter then tries to roll a 'chance point' or 'shooters point', a total between 4 and 10 inclusively, which is not the main point.

However, it is possible for the shooter to win or lose before establishing a chance point. If he rolls the main point again, he wins. If he rolls a 2 or 3, he loses his bet but retains control of the dice and may play again. If he rolls a 12 and the main point is even (6 , 8) he wins. If he rolls a 12 and the main point is odd (5, 7, 9) he loses. If he rolls an 11 and the main point is 7, he wins. If he rolls an 11 and the main point isn't 7, he loses. If that sounds rather complex, you're not alone. My wife refers to this game as 'Medieval Fizzbin'. ;-) The table may be simpler:

Main Point Wins On Loses On
5 5 11, 12
6 6, 12 11
7 7, 11 12
8 8, 12 11
9 9 11, 12
any main point 2, 3

Once the chance point has been established, no other roll matters except the main point and the chance point. The shooter continues rolling until he rolls the chance point and wins, or the main point and loses.