Anzac Day and 2UP

2up in Surry Hills at the Dove & Olive

I have a post to go up about Terrigal, but I’m not quite sure how to tackle it for a variety of reasons. So instead I’ll ruminate on yesterday. Anzac Day. (Which for my out-of-country readers is basically Veteran’s Day).

I wasn’t up to waking up at 4AM for a dawn service, so I woke up later, as you do on a public holiday, and made my way to Surry Hills to grab some food and play 2up at the Dove & Olive.

On the back of one of my recent ruminations about finding your way around a new place and settling in, only in Australia would a specific gambling game be legal to play only one day a year – on Anzac day. That’s 2up. The Dove & Olive treated me well in terms of winnings – at the height of things I probably won $80, though by the time I got home I ended up with about $20 less than I took out from the ATM that morning. Considering that I probably spent $70 all told, it’s still pretty good.

Enough about my luck, though. The game. 2up is a fancy version of heads or tails. You have a spinner (the person flipping the coins), two or three coins, and a designated area in which the coins can land and be legal.

2up in Surry Hills
2up in Surry Hills at the Dove & Olive

I did a turn as the spinner (it’s harder than it looks) and won some decent money. Long and the short of it is, you bet on heads or tails and find someone to match your bet. If you bet heads, you hold the money. The spinner spins (to calls of “Heads up, spinnnnnaaa!”). If there are two tails, tails wins. Two heads, it’s heads. Re-spin if it’s odds (one landing heads, one tails) or out of bounds. Pretty straightforward, and doesn’t really capture to unexpected joy and anticipation in both the day and the game. It was oddly patriotic, and was a time where I felt like I was part of something larger. Or maybe that was because I was a few drinks in…at 3PM.

Betting before the spin is…loud and hectic. If you have money in your hand on your head, you’re looking for someone to match tails (you’d call “10 heads”). If you’re wagging your money around your waist, you’re looking for someone to match heads. Yes. People looked ridiculous. But it’s how you go. So I didn’t ask any questions and joined in.

As someone said, this is one of the few days you happily and quite easily swap money with strangers. I have to say I probably had the best time at the Dove & Olive, and won the most money.

After about 4, I wandered over to my favorite Irish pub in Surry Hills, the Wild Rover. I lost more money there than I won. Met up with an American from Miami whose friend knew one of the bartenders. The betting was more subdued in the Wild Rover and the mood a little less joyful, but I had a good time nonetheless.

I ended up staying until about 9:30, and went straight to bed when I got home.

I have to say, I’m glad I went out. I wasn’t going to, but then I realized I just need to man up, get out and be social. I don’t regret it. It was one of those experiences that pulled the city a little bit further into my soul, shouting loudly as if I could predetermine luck and predict what way a coin toss was going to land, with 40 other people crowded around a small square of space hoping that I didn’t just lose $20. All so lest we forget.

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