First published on 18 Apr 2012. Updated on 18 Apr 2012.
On face value alone, Two-up encompasses more of the Australian gambling psyche than even the ubiquitous, iniquitous pokies that plague Sydney’s bars and nightspots. Though historically a game of chance associated with hard times, the national day of war commemoration is an excuse to bet like a mad dog, sink some schooners and get your head around ‘mateship’.
Two-up became an acceptable pastime for soldiers during World War I, even though games of chance and gambling were cracked down on by authorities. By that time, the game had been popular in Australia for more than a hundred years, having first been noticed and recorded around 1798 by the Judge Advocate of the New South Wales colony.
The game is still illegal in all states and territories, but an exemption has been granted for Anzac Day and Armistice Day (11 November).
How it’s played
Players encircle a small pitch or ring and a spinner is chosen. The spinner holds a small wooden paddle called a ‘kip’, which holds two coins. The game and the betting are overseen by a boxer and a ringkeeper or ‘ringy’ oversees the coin tosses. The spinner offers his bet – if the coins land at both heads, the spinner wins. If tails, the spinner loses and if it’s one of each, the spinner throws again. The boxer takes his commission from the spinner’s wins while punters around the ring can place side bets with each other.
In Aussie casinos where Two-up is a fixture, players bet against the house and a spinner must make five heads for a win, three tails for a loss.
Where to play it
Most pubs in Sydney will have a few Two-up games on the go this Anzac Day. Get amongst it, spinners.
The Australian Heritage Hotel, The Rocks. From 12 noon.
Cargo Bar, Sydney. From 12 noon.
Harbord Diggers, Freshwater. From 12 noon-6pm.
The Great Northern Hotel, Chatswood. From 12 noon-7pm
Greengate Hotel, Killara. From 11am
Coogee Bay Hotel, Coogee. 12 noon-6pm.
Bronte RSL, Waverley. 1pm-9pm.
North Bondi RSL, North Bondi. 2pm-5pm