Even though computers, mobile gadgets and the Internet has long taken over, there are still some interactive, classical, and mind juggling ancient games that survived through time and remain popular in certain regions of the world.

One of such games is an early English game known as the Hazard which was invented in the 14th century. Many centuries later, Hazard remains as zealous and as engaging as ever. So, what makes the game so popular even in an age where computer games rule supreme? Here’s a detailed analysis of the game and its development over time.

Men playing Hazard. Photo Credits - Princeton University.

Brief overview of the game.

The earliest version of Hazard appeared back in the 13th century and closely resembled another game which is today known as sic bo.The game, which is billed to have originated from an Arabic speaking nation owing, was first played in Medieval Europe in the year 1125 under the name Hazart.

This was a variation of the siege of a castle series games. Owing to its complexity and player engagement levels, the game’s popularity reached stratospheric heights in the 16th and 17th centuries as it became soldiers’ traditional pastime in Europe and beyond. In fact, the game was so popular in England that it was often played for high stakes in numerous English gambling rooms.

From England, Hazard spread to other countries of the world notably France and Unites States. Modern day American dice game of craps which was developed in the 19th century, and which is one of the most popular games in North American casinos nowadays, borrows heavily from Hazard.

Though the popularity of this game has diminished over time as the more easy-to-play computer games continue to increase, it’s other variations, specifically the craps, are much alive.


Rules that govern the Hazard game.

Basically, two dice are used in playing the game. Multiple players, who play side by side, bet among themselves on the odds of “caster’s” or “fader’s” point being cast first. Any player is at liberty to begin the game either by casting or shooting. In instances where two players are jostling to begin the game, a dice is rolled and the highest decides. To start off, the first player usually throws the dice to establish the main, which means any number between five and nine. If the player isn’t successful on the first and subsequent attempts, they retake the throws until they have the main point. Once the main has been established, other players make their bets on whether the caster will either win or lose. All bets are usually placed upon a designated circle on the playing area. This paves way for the second throw of the dice.

A player only wins if they throw in. This is to mean, if a 5 is nicked by a 5, a 6 by a 6 or a 12, a 7 by a 7 or 11, 9 by 9 and 8 by 8 or a 12. In case the caster throws aces or crabs, they lose. The caster also loses if they throw an 11 or 12 to a main of 5 or 9, an 11 to 6 or 8, or a 12 to 7. Any other throws other those above gives a player another chance to continue till they either win or lose upon which the dice is passed to the next player.

Generally, the probability of 6 being played first ahead of a 5 differs vastly with the probabilities of getting a 5 being thrown before a 9 or 7. As the game is usually fast paced and its rules complicated, it’s the only players who have remarkably sharp memory who have the best chance of winning the game.


Common phrases used in a game of hazard.

In order to play this game competently, it’s imperative to have a grasp of terms often used in the course of playing. Here are the more commonly used phrases of the game.

  • Caster-is the current player.
  • Throw out- means to lose.
  • Throw in/nick-refers to rolling the main.
  • Main-any number between 5 and 9, inclusive.

Though hazard is no longer played in most casinos in the world, it still remains an engaging, mind juggling past time activity that any gambling enthusiast would find mesmerizing. For all it’s liveliness, it’s not hard to understand why different variations of hazard are still in existence in some parts of the world even today.

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