Help me organise an excellent Melbourne Cup sweep
October 12, 2010 4:53 PM   Subscribe

How can I make my office's Melbourne Cup sweep interesting?

I've just been given the very important responsibility of organising my office's Melbourne Cup sweep. Now I'm perfectly happy to print and cut up the newspaper's form guide the way every other office does it, but I'd like to make it a bit more interesting than every other year.

Is there reading about best practices in organising sweepstakes and pools I should know about? Are there common side-games that I could run? I'd be very interested in stories about particularly notable office pools.

Important footnotes:
- for non-Australasian answerers: office sweeps for the Melbourne Cup are entirely legal and indeed a national obligation.
- we are forbidden access from our corporate network to "gambling" websites.
posted by Fiasco da Gama to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (15 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Set up a secondary market? Alternatively, have you ever run a Calcutta before?

(OK, I have no idea... I didn't know you could make the cup sweep interesting?)
posted by pompomtom at 5:19 PM on October 12, 2010

How much space do you have? Could you have particants run the race themselves around the office? (only half joking there)

Enhance the sweep with an office Fashions on the Field?

That's all I got!
posted by prettypretty at 5:50 PM on October 12, 2010

The problem with Melbourne Cup sweeps is that there are around 86 horses running, and prizes normally go only to only those who drew the first three placegetters, and sometimes there's a bogey prize for the one that comes last.

Also, the race goes for about 18 minutes or so, and is deathly boring until the last five seconds - unless one of the horses falls, so it's a bit like motor racing like that.

But anyway, to make it interesting you need more prizes, and something to stop people from falling asleep between the starting gun & the finish line.

I'd suggest a beer for everybody whose horse is scratched, prizes for the last three horses, prizes for the first three as well (but not worth as much as the last 3), a special bonus prize for any horse that falls or misses the start, as well as interim prizes for the horse that's in the lead at the 1km, 2km, 5km, 10km & 20km marks.

You could add beers for best & worst dressed, plus a beer for everybody who rants along with the race caller for the entire race.

Oh, and every time you see somebody in the telecast wearing a hat - that's another beer. Ditto for any C-list celebrity (double if the person can name who they're married to or dating).
posted by UbuRoivas at 6:15 PM on October 12, 2010 [2 favorites]

I place a $1 Win bet on each horse, and re-sell the tickets. That way someone might get a big payout.
posted by AmbroseChapel at 6:34 PM on October 12, 2010 [1 favorite]

See if there's a costume shop with enough jockey silks?
posted by the noob at 7:27 PM on October 12, 2010

Uh, Uboroivas, the Melbourne Cup is over 3.2 kms and lasts about 3 and a half minutes.
posted by Diag at 8:14 PM on October 12, 2010

The boring thing about the office sweep is that there is nothing you can personally do that will help you win. Everyone just sits there and waits, making painfully awkward conversation (I work with accountants, so excitement, not so much) until some one gets lucky. If you could come up with some kind of game that runs concurrently it would be a lot more interesting. Buggered if I can think of one though.
posted by Wantok at 8:16 PM on October 12, 2010

Uh, Diag, that one went bit over your head, didn't it?

yeah a calcutta is the simplest best idea.

or you could re-enact the great bookie robbery?
posted by wilful at 8:37 PM on October 12, 2010

At my work the cup guy calls an imaginary race with staff members as horses. You can bet on them, too, and the behaviour of the horses is usually a (gentle) parody of the involved workers. Someone actually moves toy horses along a
little track too, according to his
calling. It's v cheesy but quite cute I suppose. The betting and champagne helps, and people make/bring hats.
posted by jojobobo at 10:49 PM on October 12, 2010

Our workplace has a subsidiary sweep going on every Melb Cup day: a snail race on a large board. They each had their own coloured lanes, blue-tacked numbers on their backs and a bit of lettuce at the end of their lanes. Started in the morning with punters choosing their snail and it's a funny morning distraction til the real race starts. [No snails were actually harmed, taken out of the garden for a few hours, then put back.]

The Best Hat prize is an obvious one. On Melbourne Cup day at my previous workplace, the men all wore women's hats and often took the opportunity to pop on a nice frock too. Best Drag Melbourne Cup outfit?
posted by honey-barbara at 10:57 PM on October 12, 2010

See whether you can hire some bike couriers to do a preliminary race around your lobby (or the block, or whatever) with fake horses heads on. I'd bet on something like that over the cup anyday.
posted by Ahab at 11:50 PM on October 12, 2010

We probably need to know how many people take part and how much they are likely to be prepared to spend. (Again, for non-Australasian readers, participants often take tickets for family members as well as themselves, so a person's total investment can be much higher than the $1--$5 Wikipedia mentions.) And of course there's the paaaartyyyy!!!!

In one office I worked in, for a while we would set up challenges between the four units to come up with a costume and a comedy routine. Think of a bunch of lawyers doing the dance in Men In Black .. Worst tie competition. We did the Best Hat and drag thing too.
posted by Logophiliac at 11:52 PM on October 12, 2010

Response by poster:
We probably need to know how many people take part and how much they are likely to be prepared to spend
We're a small office of 14-18 depending on how many turn up, probably a buy-in of $10-$15 would be reasonable. No suggestions are required for the party, the drinking or the eating; we're quite prepared in that regard---just the mechanics of socially-sanctioned gambling at work.

I'd never heard of a Calcutta auction, that's really interesting and quite possible.
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 12:03 AM on October 13, 2010

Actually, another option is to turn the sweepstakes draw itself into a bit of a game. I've played this a few times with 'Kris Kringle' gift-swapping situations.

Here's how it goes.

Everybody draws lots for the order in which they will pick a ticket for a horse.

Once the order is set, Person 1 picks a ticket from a hat & tells everybody what horse it is. (You might want to use a whiteboard for this)

Person 2 has the option of taking Person 1's horse, or drawing one of their own. If they take Person 1's ticket, then Person 1 gets another one from the hat.

This continues until everybody has a ticket. At any point in the process, the new person about to draw can take the horse from anybody prior to them.

This creates a whole lot of fun around everybody grabbing the favourite horses from people before them, a bit of politics around "Sorry, Manager, but I'm taking that off you!", as well as an element of skill - people still have some chance of doing research & going for the horse that they think has a good chance in the race.
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:21 PM on October 13, 2010

(it's also kinda cool how the person who draws a favourite is almost guaranteed to lose it to somebody else - something very Australian about that; tall poppies, underdogs, egalitarianism & whatnot)
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:26 PM on October 13, 2010

« Older How to not get screwed by the dealer   |   Help me understand Danny Boyle's "Sunshine" Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.