Sunday, May 03, 2009

Two Up

I wanted to spend Anzac Day, Australia's day to honor the sacrifices of its brave service men and women, in style at the races. In the US, 'style' and horse 'races' don't belong in the same sentence unless you're talking about the Kentucky Derby maybe. Here in Australia, you can get drunk at the races (getting drunk is an integral part of every Australian holiday), but the fashions at the Randwick Racecourse elevate the sport of horse racing to a level more sophisticated than the hot dog days at Santa Anita in my youth.
A day at the races is so much more than senseless betting and beer when it's framed as Randwick's Autumn Carnival, an event sponsored by Schweppes and the phrase 'princesses will stop at nothing,' which I still can't relate back to horses or Schweppes products. Anyway, I can't say anything more about the races because Mickey and most other members of our crew weren't tempted by the prospect of drinks and horses in pretty clothes as I was. Maybe next year.

Instead, Jess, Chris, Mickey and I met our token Australian friend Tim at his local watering hole, the Quarryman's in Pyrmont for drinks and two up, a gambling game that's legal in Australia only on Anzac Day. (Funny that our plan B also involved alcohol and betting. It's clear that the boys couldn't be bothered dressing up).

Two up is pretty simple, but has a couple of nonsense rules. Someone holds two coins on a small paddle. People make bets on whether the coins will land heads or tails sides up. The spinner, or spinnah, as we say here in Australia, must make the coins flip around a couple of times at least at a height over his/her head. Two tails mean that tails wins, two heads mean that heads win and one of each means that you must flip again, a rule designed to help people lose money just a tad slower.

Again, it's a simple game, but it kept Tim's crew and the other patriotic Australians in the pub entertained for hours. I generally loathe gambling, but took a chance and ended up tripling my money. That's right, I came in with $5 and ended up with $15. The luck of the fallen soldier was with me alright.

I achieved the most enjoyment from watching Jess take the paddle and get gently heckled by the drunken gamblers shouting, 'come in, spinnah!' in a cockney accent which, like two up itself, is unique to Anzac Day.

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