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Best of Gary Trask

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Top-10 Golf Gambling Games

12 November 2007

By Gary Trask

10.) Quota Points

This is the perfect game to play when you have a number of different groups competing, with each player, or team, tossing a set amount of money into the pot. Before the match, each player subtracts his handicap from 36. That number becomes the player's "quota." For example, if your handicap is a 12, then your "quota" would be a 24. You are then awarded one point for a bogey, two points for a par, four points for a birdie and eight points for an eagle. (Some formats penalize players a point if they card more than a bogey). The goal is to get more points than your quota. The person or team with the most points over their quota at the end of the round wins the pot.

9.) Bingo, Bango, Bongo

This game is only recommended if your group has the time to play in the exact order that golf etiquette requires and is not recommended for those who insist on playing "ready golf." Three points are available on each hole: one for the first player to reach the green (bingo), one for the player closest to the pin once all the balls are on the green (bango) and one for the first player to hole out (bongo). This game levels the playing field since the best score isn't always going to win. Also, short hitters have an advantage at times because they will typically have "honors" once everyone is on the fairway and that puts them in position to earn the "bingo" point.

8.) Bridge

It's a game that tests your self-confidence and entails a great deal of strategy. You need a foursome to play this game since it requires two teams of two players each. Before each hole, one of the teams bids on how many strokes (gross – without handicaps or net – with handicaps) it will need it to complete the hole. For example, a team may bid nine on a hole, meaning that it is betting it can play the hole in nine combined strokes or less. The other team then has three options. It can bid that it can shoot a lower score than nine, accept the bet and see if the opposing team can make its "bid," or accept the bet and double the per hole stakes.

7.) Acey Deucey

Acey Deucey requires the use of handicaps since a superior player could easily dominate. On each hole, the low score (the "Ace") wins an agreed upon amount from the other three players, and the high score (the "Deuce") loses an agreed upon amount to the other players in the group. The Ace bet is typically worth twice the Deuce bet. Keep in mind that even at low stakes this game could get pricey for the losers and mighty prosperous for the winners. Ties for either the Ace or the Deuce mean that no money is paid for that bet on that hole; however, your foursome could opt to play the game with carryovers, which can increase the intensity of the match.

6.) Sixes

This is a fun game because you get the chance to be paired up as a partner with everyone in your foursome. It's a best-ball match between two teams of two players, but you change partners after every six holes. So, in essence, there are three different matches played within one 18-hole round of golf. The best part of this game is that even if there's one player in the group that is much better than everyone else, everyone will get a chance to have that player as their partner for six holes.

5.) Las Vegas

When played properly, this is a great change of pace. First off, you need a foursome since it pits two teams of two players. At the end of each hole a team's score is derived by making the lower denomination of the two scores the first digit of your team's total score. For instance, if you card a "four" and your partner gets a "six," your team's score is a 46. However, if someone birdies (or eagles) a hole, the other team must reverse the numbers in their score. In the above scenario, your team would be tagged with a 64 rather than a 46 because one of your opponents scored a birdie. The team with the lowest score at the end of the round wins. You can increase the stakes by playing for $1 (or more) per point. In this variation, the winning team gets the differential between the two scores at the end of the round.

4.) The Snake

This is more of a "side bet" rather than an actual game, but it will no doubt add some spice to your match. The "snake" is given to the first player of the match who three-putts or worse. That player carries "the snake" and pays a per-hole "fee" until someone else needs three putts or more to get in the hole and takes over possession of "the snake." Not only does this up the ante for the match, but you can certainly expect to hear some "hissing" noises from your playing partners as you're lining up your third putt.

3.) Wolf

This is a game where you can really prove your bravado. First, a set rotation must be decided on before teeing off as players alternate being the "Wolf." (In a foursome, two players will be the "Wolf" five times.) Also, there must be a set price of what each hole will be worth per player. On each hole, the player designated as the Wolf chooses, before teeing off, who will be his partner for that particular hole, or he can choose to play "wolf" and take on the remainder of the group all by himself. If the wolf and his partner win the hole, the two players split the earnings. If a player decides to go "wolf" and wins the hole, he wins the set amount per hole from each player. If a player goes "wolf" and loses the hole, he must pay the other three players.

2.) Skins

The game of Skins, which has gained notoriety from the annual high-stakes Skins Game that features professional players and is televised each fall, makes things exciting because one single hole could make or break the entire match. The concept is simple. Each hole is worth one "skin" (and, of course, a monetary value is agreed upon for each "skin" before teeing off). The player that wins the hole earns the skin. If there is a tie, however, the "skin" is "carried over" to the next hole and every member of the group is eligible to win, except this time it will be worth two "skins." If the carryovers continue, which is more than likely to happen, it's not unusual for one hole to be worth four or even five skins. You can also add twists to the game by awarding skins for feats other than simply winning hole. For instance, skins could also be awarded to players for "greenies" (landing your tee shot on the green), "sandies" (earning a sand save), "woodies" (parring a hole after hitting a tree) and "Arnies" (parring a hole without hitting the fairway, named in honor of Arnold Palmer).

1.) Nassau

This is the most popular game in golf and it can be used for both individual and team matches. What it does is break an 18-hole match into three matches, one for the front nine, one for the back and then one for the overall score. A predetermined amount of money is agreed on before the match begins so a $10 Nassau would mean a total of $30 is at stake in the match ($10 for the front, $10 for the back, $10 for the overall match). The name "Nassau" comes from the fact that the game was invented at Nassau Country Club in Long Island, New York, in 1900.

Gary Trask
Gary is an expert on all things gambling. The Boston native has worked as a writer and editor for more than 15 years, including a few at Casino City and was a member of the Poker Hall of Fame's Media Committee.

No Limit Hold'em tournaments are a favorite of Gary's, but he also enjoys a night of dealer's choice with a variety of games like Seven-Card No Peek, Guts or Five-Card Draw with a qualifier. In addition to playing cards, another of Gary's interests is golf, a game that allows his two favorite hobbies to collide quite naturally.

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