Today’s the day. Anzac Day – and Lest We Forget.
Amongst the other things that aren’t too politically heavy it means you might hear a weird trumpet noise playing at your local park around dawn, people will smell like Rosemary, you may see men and woman dressed in defence force uniforms coming and going for the best part of the day around your local train station and watering holes, and there will be some weird primal cacophonous sweat pit full of people yelling out such strange things as “Come in Spinner!”, and “20 he tails ‘em!” at the top of their lungs whilst a bunch of coins get flipped in the air as you and your Cocka-spoodle look for a seat in your local tavern’s beer garden to enjoy your glass of rosé and activated almond salad.
The game 2 up is essentially an Anzac tradition derived from a social form of gambling Australian World War 1 troops would play to help pass what little leisure time they had. Post-War several illegal “2 up schools” were set up particularly around the harbour city of Sydney and remained popular until the emergence of American style illegal casino’s in the late 1950’s and the invasion of slot machines in the 1970’s.
It’s a simple game consisting of two or sometimes three ‘Pennies’ placed on a wooden paddle known as ‘The Kip’, being flung in the air by ‘The Spinner’ whilst onlookers bet with one another on the outcome of the spin, that being heads or tails.
Only allowed to be played publicly once a year, on Anzac Day, 2 up is a game that allows a light hearted social form of gambling amongst mates which pays tribute to the Anzac spirit. Here are a few basic rules and observations to be noted to ensure that the tradition is continued and a good day is had by all.
- The Ring- Roughly 10 metres wide, covered with a mat and bordered by a timber frame or thick rope and with a roof clearance of at least 3 metres to allow sufficient coin rotation when ‘The Kip’ is spun, The Ring is off limits! If you want to cross The Ring to place a wager with a punter on the other side you go through the ‘Ringmaster’ or ‘The Ringy’ who will happily carry your cash across the brink and also settle your wager. If you spill a drink in The Ring expect to be heckled loudly as you will have delayed the next toss and if you enter The Ring whilst the coins are in the air resulting in a ‘no spin’ just as heads comes up and the bloke next to you is standing there holding a pineapple on his melon, do yourself a favour and leave the premises immediately.
- The Spinner- The person who tosses the pennies, as in “Come in Spinner!”. Can be anyone at random who accepts ‘The Kip’ as it is offered around The Ring. The Spinner must place a small wager with the centre, as little as $5, and the aim of The Spinner is to throw three consecutive heads of which they are all-up for the course of their three spins or until they throw a tail. ie- $5 for three consecutive heads spins turns in to $40, 5×2=10, 10×2=20, 20×2=40. Once The Spinner throws three heads they can elect to take their winnings, or re-invest all or part thereof. Once The Spinner throws a tail, they are out. For those brave enough to spin, make sure you get plenty of rotation on the coins, but try to keep them in The Ring at the same time. If the coins aren’t rotated adequately or bounce out of The Ring it is declared a no spin, and booing ensues which becomes increasingly hostile as the afternoon progresses. If a spinner is successful it is considered good etiquette to tip the centre which goes in the charity tin once it is passed around, and also to buy your ‘Ringy’ a cold one.
- The Centre- Is generally where the big punters play, particularly late in the day once the Rum and Milk’s they had for breakfast have really kicked in. The Spinner wages with the centre on three successful heads spins and that wager must be matched in each game before any coins are spun. Throughout the course of the day you may see a delay in the game with The Ringy yelling out such things as “$50 for the middle!”, so this is what he is talking about. Essentially this is where Tails backers who want to bet big are looking. If The Spinner is brave enough to stake an initial wage of $20 than $80 is required to ‘set the centre’ by the third toss, which is a decent wager on what is essentially a flip of a coin.
- How to bet- Outside of betting with the centre, placing a side bet around the ring is really quite simple. Take out the appropriate denomination you wish to wager, place said currency on either your head (heads) or your backside (tails), then proceed to declare your intentions at the top of your voice. Before too long, someone will match that wager who wishes to bet on the opposite outcome to you, and a new oddly formed friendship is instantly attained. As a general rule, heads holds the money, only for the simple reason they both start with H and it’s easy for drunk people to remember, however each venue is different and it’s worth confirming before you start to play, especially if the bloke next to you that you intend to bet with looks like he plays in the back row for the South Sydney Rabbitohs.
- “Headed them!”, “Tailed them!”- Not really everyday sayings, in fact I doubt you will hear these two words spoken in that order on any other day of the year in any other country in the world. 2 up is played with a set of Australian pennies. The head side is naturally the side of the coin with the monarch’s head on it. In this case it will be King George VI. The alternate side, or the tails side is marked with a white X so as to be easily distinguishable to the bleary-eyed punters when it lands. The Spinner places the pennies Tails up on The Kip, spins accordingly, punters are then permitted to yell as loudly as possible for their result, it’s then the job of The Ringy, generally a beer bellied middle aged pub local, to declare the result either by whacking himself on the head repeatedly or feverishly slapping his own arse.
- The Odds- Now read this carefully. The odds of getting three straight heads is a simple formula. ½ x ½ x ½ = 0.125 which is 12.5% or one in 8. Here is the key. For each spin in the equation above the odds of each spin are ½. 50/50. Therefore, the outcome of the previous spin has absolutely no effect on the outcome of the next spin, or any other spin thereafter. Got it! The theory that there has been a run of a certain result therefore another result must be ‘due’ is what is known as ‘The Gambler’s Fallacy’ and the only game it has been proven to work in is Russian Roulette so chances are if you’ve partaken in that activity to prove that theory right, you won’t be here reading this.
- No guarantee to win- C’mon, surely you didn’t think there was a way? Mate, you’re betting on the toss of a bloody coin you idiot! Just as there is no way of being guaranteed to win, there is also now way of even being guaranteed not to lose. The theory that you keep doubling down your loss and you keep backing the same outcome because eventually it has to come up has been proven in point 6 to be a load of BS. Whilst it is highly probable, that a run of either heads or tails will end eventually, it is not guaranteed, and a run of four or five can very quickly eat up your cash reserves and do some real damage, particularly when under duress late in the contest, on what is essentially a fun day. So even though you are only playing 2 up, always gamble responsibly.
- Don’t be a tight arse!- Whether you are playing at an RSL, at the races, or at your local, at several stages throughout the game a bucket will be passed around the ring to raise funds for Returned Service Men and Women. Without getting into the heavy stuff, that is essentially why we are all here and allowed to enjoy the freedom of days like these, so whether you are winning or losing, be sure to give generously. Whilst the majority of us don’t like War, nobody likes a tight arse!