Definitions

# Hazard (game)

Hazard is an Old English game played with two dice which was mentioned in Geoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales in the 14th century. The name "hazard" derives from the Arabic word az-zahr (زهر) which is a translation of the plural "dice". Hazard is not interchangeable with "Grand Hazard," which is played with three dice; Grand Hazard is similar to Sic bo.

Despite its complicated rules, hazard was so popular in the 17th and 18th centuries that it was often played for money; games of chance were thus called "hazard games." At Crockford's Club in London, hazard was especially popular. In the 19th century, the game craps developed from hazard through a simplification of the rules.

## Rules

Any number may play, but only one player — the caster — has the dice at any one time.

In each round, the caster specifies a number between 5 and 9 inclusive: this is the main. He then throws two dice.

• If he rolls the main, he wins (throws in or nicks).
• If he rolls a 2 or a 3, he loses (throws out).
• If he rolls an 11 or 12, the result depends on the main:
• with a main of 5 or 9, he throws out with both an 11 and a 12;
• with a main of 6 or 8, he throws out with an 11 but nicks with a 12;
• with a main of 7, he nicks with an 11 but throws out with a 12.
• If he neither nicks nor throws out, the number thrown is called the chance. He throws the dice again:
• if he rolls the chance, he wins;
• if he rolls the main, he loses (unlike on the first throw);
• if he rolls neither, he keeps throwing until he rolls one or the other, winning with the chance and losing with the main.

This is simpler to follow in a table:

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Main Nicks Outs Chance
5 5 2, 3, 11, 12 Anything else
6 6, 12 2, 3, 11
7 7, 11 2, 3, 12
8 8, 12 2, 3, 11
9 9 2, 3, 11, 12

As long as he keeps winning, the caster may keep playing: but if he loses three times in succession, he must pass the dice to the player to his left, who becomes the new caster.

## Betting

Bets are between the caster and the bank (the setter), which may be the remaining players acting as a group.

If the caster nicks on the first throw, he wins an amount equal to his stake. After the first throw, the caster wins his stake if he gets his chance before his main.

After the first throw, the caster (and others, in side bets) may wager an additional sum that the chance will come before the main. These bets are made at odds determined by the relative proportions of the main and the chance:

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Main Chance
4 5 6 7 8 9 10
5 4/3 - 4/5 2/3 4/5 1/1 4/3
6 5/3 5/4 - 5/6 1/1 5/4 5/3
7 2/1 3/2 6/5 - 6/5 3/2 2/1
8 5/3 5/4 1/1 5/6 - 5/4 5/3
9 4/3 1/1 4/5 2/3 4/5 - 4/3

For example, with an odds stake of £10, a main of 7 and a chance of 5, a castor stands to win £15 (3/2 × £10); with the same stake, a main of 5 and a chance of 6, he could win £8 (4/5 × £10).

## Probability of winning

For each main the probability of winning can be calculated:

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Main Probability of Winning Disadvantage to Caster
5 0.492 1.52%
6 0.488 2.34%
7 0.493 1.41%
8 0.488 2.34%
9 0.492 1.52%

In some reports on the rules of the game, the main is determined randomly by tossing the dice until a valid main appears. In this case the overall player disadvantage is 1.84%. If the caster can choose a main, he should always choose 7. This may be how craps evolved, since if you always choose 7 the game is basically just craps.

## Craps and Hazard

At its heart, craps is a version of Hazard where the main is always 7:

• if the shooter (the caster) rolls a 7 or 11 on his first throw, he wins;
• if he rolls a 2, 3, or 12, he loses;
• if he rolls anything else, that is his point (his chance); he now keeps throwing until he wins by making (rolling) his point or loses by rolling a 7.

However, betting in craps is significantly more complicated.

## Miscellaneous

From the game of Hazard came:

• The phrase "'at sixes and sevens". "Set upon six and seven" first appeared in Chaucer's Tales relating to betting one's entire fortune on a single throw of the dice. Over time the phrase became associated with any circumstances involving general confusion or disorder.
• The word "hazard" in its modern sense of "risk" or "danger".

## References

• "HAZARD". LoveToKnow 1911 Online Encyclopedia. http://20.1911encyclopedia.org/H/HA/HAZARD.htm.
• Steinmetz, Andrew (1870). The Gaming Table, Volume II, Chaper X. (Online edition available at World Wide School)

## Notes

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