The dice game known as Hazard has been played for centuries in its native England, and was even mentioned in Geoffrey Chaucer’s literary classic, The Canterbury Tales. While its popularity has waned in recent years, it can still be found in some casinos in the West, and the length of its run is rivaled by only a few other games.
The History of Hazard
A forerunner to the more popular game of craps, Hazard was especially played throughout the 1600 and 1700’s and its outcome was regularly gambled on even then. Its appearance in Chaucer’s writing, however, dates the game back to as far as the 14th century, making it one of the oldest English games that is still being played today. It is generally viewed that the more complicated rules that are associated with Hazard have likely contributed to its lack of popularity in modern times. Craps is basically a version of Hazard with a pared down rules system, and it has all but completely stolen the show from its predecessor in most western casinos.
How to Play Hazard
In Hazard, the players take turns rolling the pair of dice, and whichever player is currently rolling them is known as the “caster.” The caster calls a number between 5 and 9 at the start of their turn and this number serves as the “main” throughout their play. In some versions of the game, the main is instead determined through the caster rolling the dice until a number between 5 and 9 appears. Gambling strategists recommend that anytime a player can choose their main number, it is always advisable to pick the number 7 for the best odds to win, making the link between Hazard and craps even more pronounced.
If the caster rolls their main number, they’ll win instantly, but a 2 or a 3 is an automatic loss. A winning roll is referred to as a “throw in” or a “nick” in this game, while a caster who rolls a losing number is said to have “thrown out.” When the caster rolls an 11 or a 12, the outcome is based on which number served as the main. If the main was a 5 or a 9, the caster throws out with either an 11 or a 12. On a main of a 6 or an 8 however, an 11 equals a throw out, but a 12 is a nick. If 7 was the main, the player throws in with an 11, but a 12 means that they threw out.
When another number is rolled, one that doesn’t automatically translate into a nick or a throw out, the number that’s been thrown is known as the “chance” and the caster rolls again. If the chance is rolled this time, the player wins, but if they roll the main on this round, they lose. If neither the chance nor the main come up, the caster keeps rolling until one of them turns up. Once the caster has thrown out three times in a row, that player’s turn is up and they pass the dice to the person to their left, who takes on the roll of caster.
Hazard isn’t as easy to find in casinos these days, but players who do get the opportunity to play this exciting and social game are almost guaranteed a great time. With its engaging format and the lively interaction that it provokes, Hazard’s long-running appeal is easy to understand.