Heads You Win!

25 April 2009

For the last 200 years, or pretty much since European migration, Australians have been playing Two Up.  I’ve never played but it seems to involve placing two coins on a ‘kip’ (a flat piece of wood), tossing them in the air and betting on how they come down. 

It’s very much associated now with the “Diggers” of the 1st World War but was played for many years in pubs and on street corners around the country.  It’s illegal (well, it’s public gambling without a licence) EXCEPT for one day of the year. 

Today.  ANZAC Day (25th April).

I was reminded of this as I was in the City today and everywhere I went there was an incredible amount of noise coming from the beer gardens of the pubs around town as large numbers gathered for their traditional ANZAC Day afternoon of betting on the fall of two coins. 

I love the tradition of it, though I’m not a lover of gambling in general, but as Bob Carr, the then-Premier of New South Wales, reported in Parliament in 2004:

“One of the charities most involved in problem gambling, the Wesley Community Legal Service, a body dealing with problem gamblers, has confirmed that it has never encountered a problem gambler addicted to two up.  That is an interesting bit of trivia for everyone to take home with them.”

I would imagine the drinking that accompanies it causes far more problems.


Technorati Tags: ,



  1. Are large amounts of money bet on this game? What do you stand to win? I’ve not come across this before so I’m intrigued, and eager to find out more!

    I love that there is this one day where it’s allowed to be played, as a tribute. What a lovely way to keep the memory alive.

  2. We have some interesting traditions, don’t we?

  3. Talking of gambling, there’s a card game called euchre played in Kent (SE England) which I’ve never seen anywhere else. It’s said to have been brought to the area by Canadian troops stationed there. Has anyone come across it in other parts of the world?

  4. Judith, my father taught us to play Euchre in the 1950s. He’d never left NZ.

  5. That’s very interesting, Mary-Helene – I wander if it was a “colonial” game (forgive the expression). Puts paid to the theory of only Canadians, though!

  6. I dunno if the diggers do much drinking – they all seem to drink middies (about 250ml), and sit on them for hours. I think it’s the young people that do most of the drinking, and for the other 364 days a year they don’t seem to need the two-up for encouragement 🙂

  7. Things may have changed recently, but two-up has been illegal for years. However, no-one seems to mind on Anzac Day. Actually, I doubt if it’s played much at any other time.

  8. Sorry to double post but I have just seen the comment on euchre. I’m no card player but have always known of euchre.

  9. I can only assume it was never a problem cos it’s so terminally boring…..

    Or is that just for a pom? (And one with the gaming chip missing!)

  10. Family stories tell of my grandfather playing in Euchre tournements here in the states (NJ), winning cut-glass dishes for my grandmother – she died in 1928, so I’d say it was around here way back!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: