Although not as famous as poker, blackjack or slot machines, craps is still one of the world’s favorite land-based and online casino games and has stories of its own to share. There are enough famous and infamous players, movies and interesting wager names to keep a person enthralled. These include the likes of Patricia Demauro, whose 4-hour streak at Atlantic City’s Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in 2009 netted her an estimated $180,000.
Let’s take a closer look at the betting names, the interesting stories, the people involved, the game itself and what makes it such an exciting casino game to play.
Who invented craps?
First off, did you know that craps as we know it is said to have been invented at the start of the second decade of the 1900s by one John H. Winn, an American bookmaker and dice maker? While the exact origins are uncertain, Winn revolutionized the game with the introduction of the “Don’t Pass Bet” and the design of the modern craps table.
How does the game of craps work?
Basically, the roller of the dice – called the shooter – rolls the dice and then rolls again in an attempt to get the same number of points he achieved on his first roll, before rolling a 7. Punters can bet on the outcome of the shooter’s rolls – whether he will land on the required number or not. If the shooter rolls the 7 before rolling his point, he loses control of the dice in what’s called a “7 out.” He or she then passes the dice on to a new shooter.
Here are some of the betting terms that craps players use when placing their wagers:
Pass Line Bet: Players are betting that on the first roll, 7 or 11 roll win, while 2, 3 or 12 lose.
Don’t Pass Bet: Players bet that on the first roll, 2 or 3 roll to win, 12 is a push, and 7 or 11 lose.
Come Bet: The same rules apply as in a pass line bet.
Don’t Come Bet: This is similar to the Don’t Pass bet.
Field Bet: If any of the numbers that are in the field box come out, the player wins. A field bet can also be referred to as a “One Roll Bet.”
Place Bet: Bets made on the point numbers (4, 5, 6, 8, 9 or 10) that are not contract bets.
Proposition Bet: One roll bet; the numbers are 2, 3, 7, 11 and 12.
Big names in the game
The craps casino game has its own set of heroes from all walks of life – businessmen, grannies and even players who crossed the gambling divide from one game to another. We’ve already mentioned New Jersey’s Patricia Demauro, the grandmother who got bored with the slot machines and turned a winning hand to craps, but have you heard of Stanley Fujitake, Frank Scoblete or William Bergstrom? These and others set unequaled precedents in the game, and may even have inspired others to switch to craps.
In 1980, William Bergstrom arrived in Las Vegas with two suitcases. One was stashed full of cash; the other was empty, ostensibly for the money he was dead-set on winning. This earned him the moniker “Suitcase Man.”
At his first stop at Binion’s Gambling Hall, he placed the entire first case’s cash on a pass line bet. He made back his $777k in winnings and left the casino, only to return a few years later and repeat the feat, albeit with a lesser amount.
In 1984, Bergstrom returned to Binion’s with $1 million in cash, checks and gold. He placed another all-or-nothing pass line bet, but this time he lost and was unable to recoup his loss.
Author Frank Scoblete is probably better known for his books on craps than on his antics themselves. His claim to fame is that a person is able to obtain a certain outcome based on the way the dice are held and thrown.
Known as controlled shooting, Scoblete’s method is said to “reduce the kickback off the wall and provide more predictable results.” The jury is still out on whether this tactic really works, but it did seem to work for Scoblete for a while. He enjoyed an 89-roll streak before finally rolling a 7.
Scoblete took Dominic “The Dominator” LoRiggio under his wing in the 1980s and the two took to using the controlled shooting method in the gameplay. They also teamed up to teach Golden Touch courses where they instruct people on how to play craps at a casino.
Before the gran from New Jersey, there was the uncle from Hawaii, Stanley Fujitake. Starting with the lowest possible bets, Fujitake began winning. As he did so, he changed tactics and increased his bet until he was betting the $1,000 table max and still winning.
News of his streak hit the casino floor and onlookers began betting on his outcomes. His hot streak lasted for 118 rolls until the unlucky 7 reared its head – but he did make many punters quite rich that day.
Craps on screen
Over the years, craps has made its mark on screen, too. Perhaps one of the most famous fictional gamblers of all time is British super-spy, James Bond. In the 1971 Diamonds are Forever, Bond comes up against the femme fatale, Plenty O’Toole, in a game of craps. Against all odds, but not unexpectedly, Bond wins when he raises a bet to $10,000.
In Ocean’s 13, the main characters rig the dice of the casino table game so that they roll the way they need them to in order to win. In real life, the method they use would never really work, but it makes for great cinema.
Another great scene featuring craps is when Sharon Stone comes up against Robert de Niro and shakes things up enough to make his character fall in love with her in the Martin Scorsese-directed film Casino.