How 2-Up and Pokies Became Our Heritage

Table Of Contents
Ryan White
by Ryan White
2 UP to Pokies Online

If we were to ask you where or what is the world’s gambling capital, what would you answer? Las Vegas? The States? You’d be wrong on both counts. We think you would be surprised if we told you it is Australia.

Yep, and we particularly like trying our luck with electronic gaming machines, or EGMs, which is a rather fancy way of saying video poker machines. In 2014, Australians spent in excess of $21 billion (AUD) on gambling, and more than half of that was on video poker machines, or “pokies,” as we call them. Given that Australia has only the 52nd-largest population, it’s even more of a big deal.

You see, gambling isn’t simply a pastime in Australia; it is a way of life. It is a part of our DNA, a part of our heritage, and it goes back as far as the 1850s with 2up.

When did it start?

No one knows the exact origins of the game but it is thought to have spread in the goldfields of Australia in the 1850s. The game quickly gained popularity with diggers or soldiers who played it during World War I. When the servicemen returned home they continued to play 2up, essentially a complex version of heads or tails, albeit illegally.

Anzac or Australian and New Zealand Army Corps Day commemorations were first held in 1916 on 25 April and was marked by a number of ceremonies and events across Australia, London and Egypt. In the 1920s it was established as a national day of remembrance for the more than 60,000 Australians who died during the war and in 1927 every state observed some form of a public holiday on Anzac Day.  By the mid-1930s all the rituals associated with the day, including two-up games, were entrenched in the Anzac Day celebrations.  

How The 2Up Culture Transferred To Pokies

Pokies in the pub

In the 1950s the popularity of 2up started declining as more sophisticated games were introduced like baccarat and slot machines and by 1973 the legal version of two-up was introduced as a table game at a casino in Hobart.

Nowadays if you want to try your hand at it you will find pokie machines at most local pubs across Australia. Or for the real deal, you could try Burswood Entertainment Complex and the Crown Casino and Entertainment Complex in Melbourne.

We think it is fair to say we are a nation who have always embraced gambling. It could be because we are a part of culture where risk and reward has always reigned supreme, or because it’s quite simply a great form of entertainment for the masses, like music concerts and sports events.

While Anzac Day is celebrated on only one day of the year, with 2up as part of the celebrations, Australians can play pokies online every day of the week, all year round.

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