For centuries, games have spread around the world, subtly evolving as they did so. This phenomenon is most common with card games, where there is ample space for subtle variations, hence the numerous types of whist and poker that are popular in different areas. But we have seen it with other types of games, too, and even with sports.
Australia is a particularly fertile breeding ground for new variations. Perhaps it is because it is so far away from almost everywhere else, or maybe it is just that the Aussies like to march to their own tune. Either way, here are some of the more intriguing Australian variations on classic games.
Squatter – it’s like Monopoly but it’s good
This is the typically understated description of the most popular Australian board game of all time according to gaming writer Ben Ferdinands. Originally launched in the early 1960s, the game follows Monopoly-style gameplay but instead of buying property, players manage their own sheep stations and must face the many challenges this brings.
The game was substantially updated in 2016 to meet the demands of modern attention spans. A game now takes about 90 minutes to play compared to the two to three hours of the classic version. A CD-ROM version appeared in 1999 but didnt catch on. There is no way to play Squatter online right now, but it is surely only a matter of time.
Australian roulette adds a racecourse to the equation
Australians love betting. That’s not a stereotypical generalization, it is a statistical fact in as much as they spend more per capita per year on betting than the second and third-highest gambling nations combined. The biggest Australian gambling passion is pokies, and after that sports betting. But third comes one of the all-time casino classics.
Roulette has been around since the 18th century and has spawned a number of variations over the years. European and American are the most common, differentiated by the number of zeroes, while there is also triple zero roulette and even no zero roulette at a few online casinos.
But what about a special type of online roulette for Australians? There is a variation known as Australian roulette. Despite being developed in France, it gained traction Down Under and is more likely to be seen at Australian online casinos. The wheel is standard European, but when it comes to placing bets, there is a “racecourse” style loop showing the numbers in the same order as the wheel. This stands alongside the standard betting table and gives players the chance to bet on specific sections of the wheel, or on neighboring pairs.
Housie is like Bingo for serious players
Granted, the name makes Housie sound like a dumbed-down version of Bingo but keep one factor in mind. Despite their affable and relaxed attitudes, Australians are crazy about a bet, and they take any sort of competitive game deadly seriously. Housie elegantly spans both areas.
Traditional bingo involves a set number of random numbered balls being selected by a caller and players checking off the numbers on their bingo cards. There are different prizes available for different achievements, such as being the first to clear a line, or for clearing the entire card.
Housie follows the same basic principle, but there is deeper strategy involved, as players take it in turns and can collect numbers that are discarded by other players. Some variations also allow players to choose their numbers instead of having whatever is on a card, making the game more similar to keno.
The other key difference between bingo and housie is that housie games tend to be played for higher stakes. Bingo is typically played for fun, with low wagers and modest rewards. Some housie games, on the other hand, can have prize funds of hundreds or even thousands of dollars.