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Besides gorging yourself on a certain oatmeal-based biscuit, playing Two-Up is the great ANZAC day pastime. The game was played in trenches and on troop ships during Gallipoli and the First World War, hence its strong association with Anzac Day.

By now, you’re probably aware that the game is played by the participants forming a ring on a flat surface. A spinner is selected from the crowd to toss the 3 coins. The spinner aims to toss two heads, betting against the crowd. Once the Spinner tosses three double heads in a row they can take their money and leave, or choose to keep spinning, whilst the other punters bet amongst themselves either on heads or tails. Also if you bet on heads, keep an eye on the punter betting tails, as they are bestowed the responsibility of holding all the money.

Here are some things you may not know about the game!

This is an easy one. In most Australian states, Two-Up can only legally be played on ANZAC day, while in New South Wales Two-Up can be played on ANZAC day or any other designated commemorative days. That being said, if caught playing, it’s considered a legitimate defence to claim you didn’t know it’s illegal! 

The double-headed penny, also known as the ‘cheaters penny’ is the sneakiest of all coins and created when two coins are shaved down to half the depth, leaving only one side with a king’s head, they were then joined together to form a single double headed coin. In order to curb this (amazingly committed) form of cheating the coin traditionally has a head side that is highly polished and a tails side that is darkened.

Stay on the look-out for these!

Image from Broadsheet Sydney

One of the charities most involved in problem gambling, has confirmed it has never encountered a problem gambler addicted to two-up. You heard it here first, go for broke!

AC/DC album 1988 album, ‘Blow up your Video’ features the song ‘Two’s Up’ with lyrics as follows: “Two's up / Gimme head, gimme tails / Gimme double up and coming doubled over on the rails / Gimme two's up’!”

Acca Dacca and Two-Up? It doesn’t get much more Aussie than that.

The Little River Band released their 4th Album ‘Sleeper Catcher’ in 1978. To make sense of the album name, the band included a section in the notes that read: “Sometimes called "Australia's National Game", two-up is a form of gambling which, though illegal, has long been a favourite pastime. The "Sleeper Catcher”, an accepted participant in the game, retrieves bets left on the floor by tardy backers.”

Never cross the Boxer and don't bump the spinner or the kip may fall, if you know what I mean.


Spinner: The person who throws the coins up in the air. Each person in the group takes turns at being the spinner.

Boxer: Person who manages the game and the betting (but doesn’t participate in betting).

Ringkeeper (Ringy): Person who looks after the coins after each toss (to avoid loss or interference).

Kip: A small piece of wood on which the coins are placed before being tossed. One coin is placed heads up, the other tails up.

Cockatoo: The nickname for the assigned look-out who watched for police.

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April 21, 2015
Tags: Events