The Game of Two up

This game originated from Australia and has a spinner spinning 2 to 3 coins or rather pennies in the air. The size and weight of the pennies make them the most ideal for playing this game. The weight and the size of these pennies are the reason for the stability of these coins on the kip which is used to toss the coin in the air. Generally the decimal coins are not used as they are very light in their weight and do not fly in the air very well. The pennies are designed before the year of 1939 and have a sovereign head in their front and writing on the other side. This helped in judging the result easily. One can see these on Anzac Day where these are played. The gambling is on the result of these coins or the sides of these coins when they hit the ground.

The gambling on which side of the coins would face up is what happens where its either heads up on both coins or tails up on both coins or head on one and tail on other which is known as the odds.

The origin

There is no exact date to the invention of this game. The evolution of this game could be from the game of pitch and toss where only coin is tossed and the gambling was on its result. This was a popular game among the soldiers of 2nd world war and hence played on Anzac day in honor of them. In the 18th century, this game was popular among the poor citizens of British and Irish countries. With other gambling forms entering the arena, this game lost its popularity. It was legalized first in 1973 as a table game in a casino and is legal to play on Anzac day. You can still find this game in some of the casinos.

The various terminologies used in this game are:

Word Means

Boxer: The person outside the game who manages the entire game.
Spinner : The player who spins the coin. Any player can spin it.
Kip A small wooden piece where coins are placed for tossing.
Ring keeper Takes care of the coin in between tosses when the betting is on.
Tails Coins landing with tails up probability of which is 25%
Odds One coin with tail & other landing with heads probability being 50%
Heads Coins landing with heads up where the probability is 25%
Cockatoo The look-out’s nickname when this game was not legal in the past.
Come in Spinner Boxer gives this call to the spinner when the coins are to be tossed.


Two Up
Two Up Australia



Basic rules are:

The person chosen as the Spinner would toss the coin with the help of the kip until they either lose or win.

  • Spinner wins if the coins turn with two heads facing up
  • Spinner loses if the coins turn with two tails facing up
  • Spinner tosses again when one coin has heads up and the other has tails facing up that is odds.


  • Spinner places the bet before the first toss with another player equaling it who gets it if the spinner loses. If spinner wins then they both keep the bet. Boxer has a commission in this.

    Other players bet against each other on the win or loss of the spinner or on the result of the throw.

    Alterations

    The win/lose for the spinner is decided based on certain variations. Some of them are:

  • Spinner is the winner when three heads irrespective of number of odds appear before one tail.
  • Spinner loses if there are successive odds before appearance of a single tail.


  • The bet of the spinner is on the house when this game is played in a casino.

    Even 3 coins are used in this game. In that case the betting is done against the spinner.

    The Culture

    In 2004 on 17th of November, Bob Carr, a premier of NSW (New South Wales) made a statement in the assembly which stated that the body which deals with problem gamblers have confirmed that they never had issues with gamblers playing two-up. This is an interesting piece of news.

    The Little River Band of Australia released their fourth album in the year of 1978 named “Sleeper Catcher”. The notes on this album states that while it is illegal to play two-up in Australia it can however be known as the national game. The bets which sluggish backers leave on the floor are picked up by the Sleeper Catcher.

    Even movies like” The Sundowners” and “Wake in Fright” feature a scene with actors playing a game of two-up. However the action on the screen was too fast that the audience was unable to understand the rules of the game.

    The name of the book “Come in Spinner” derives its name from the call of this game.

    Also the television shows Underbelly: A Tale of Two cities showed actors either taking part in this game or the police raidiing a place, where this game is held or the contestants run for hiding.