Two Up – A Simple Gambling Game

Two-up is a traditional Australian gambling game, involving a designated “spinner” throwing two coins or pennies into the air. Players bet on whether the coins will fall with both heads up, both tails up, or with one coin a head and one a tail (known as “Ewan”). It is traditionally played on Anzac Day in pubs and clubs throughout Australia, in part to mark a shared experience with Diggers through the ages.

The game was known to be popular with convicts as early as 1798. By the 1850s, the game was being played on the goldfields of the eastern colonies, and it spread across the country following subsequent gold rushes.

The game is traditionally played with pennies – their weight, size, and surface design make them ideal for the game. This type of game is obviously not unique to Australia but places like these (see below) may well be.

This place is well signposted…

After World War 1 it was played extensively on ANZAC Day but was illegal on other days. Naturally illegal Two-Up schools sprouted up and still exist. With the onset of other gambling games like cards and (later) poker/slot machines, the game’s popularity dropped. But it still goes on. Sometimes legally sometimes in what looks like an illicit gambling den.

Bush Two Up

Incredible that such places are built for a game of coin tossing eh?

This place looks like it could also house cock fights. Who knows? It may do, although that would definitely be illegal. It is remote – far enough off the main road – and who would go to these places apart from those interested in gambling and the event?

Inside the arena
Dani would not be allowed here if there was a game on. No alcohol and no under 18s.

The organisers even saw fit to build toilets!

Ladies and Gents facilities

This “Bush Two Up” site is mentioned in the Kalgoorlie tourism website (among others). This particular Two-Up venue had a legal event on New Year’s Day. Sadly we had another long drive that day. That was when we headed south to the coastal town of Esperance…

We even saw the Two-Up games on sale in one shop. So of course Dani wanted one. Not exactly authentic copper pennies there but at least the same size as the ones used in the original game. That piece of wood holding the coins is called a “Kip” and the ne whose turn it is to toss the coins is called the “spinner”. Shame really. I was hoping they would be called the “tosser”. Never mind eh?

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