What is fascinating is how different casino games have developed over time – their history, their culture, some of the stories about the early games that are played. Most casino games that we play these days are fairly universal – walk into any casino around the world and you will find pretty much a standard range of games with a fairly accepted set of rules and betting procedures. One of the rare exceptions to this general rule is the game of Two-Up.
No one really knows how the game of Two-Up evolved, but it was a popular game in England and Ireland in the 18th century and was transported to Australia with the penal settlements that England established there where it flourished through the gold rushes and remained very popular. During World War I the game was played extensively by Australian soldiers. While technically it is illegal to play two-up in Australia, it was traditionally played around the country on ANZAC day – a public holiday in Australia to commemorate their war dead. It has since been legalised to play Two-Up on ANZAC Day and in some of Australia’s casinos.
Generally the players will form a circle around one of the players who is nominated as the “Spinner”. The Spinner holds a small flat piece of wood known as the “Kip”. On the Kip are placed two pennies (coins). The Spinner uses the Kip to throw the two coins into the air. The players are betting on which way the coins will fall – either both coins with “Heads” showing; both coins with “Tails” showing; or “Odds” where one coin is showing Heads and one coin is showing Tails.
Pennies are the coins that are traditionally used for the game because their size and weight work well to be flipped in the air in this manner, but technically any two equal coins could be used. The term “Come in Spinner!” is used to indicate that the betting has been placed and that the game is ready to commence.
While the game of Two-Up has been illegal to play in Australia, throughout much of the 20th Century there has been an illegal Two-Up school in operation in the outback town of Broken Hill, just off the main street of Argent Street. It’s believed that Two-Up was so popular in Broken Hill because it brought together the town’s itinerate miners, shearers, and farm workers – creating a social connection for people passing through this rough and ready town. In 1984, police raided the game and shut it down, however the town’s City Council successfully applied for a permit to resume running the game. Today there is a legal game of Two-Up played in Broken Hill at The Palace Hotel in Argent Street. The only place in Australia (outside of the Perth Casino and the Melbourne Casino) where you can legally play Two-Up on days other than ANZAC Day.
The game of Two-Up. A unique slice of Australian history and a unique game that you will find in Australian casinos