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Cockfighting is a traditional game or form of popular entertainment for the Vietnamese. Whilst betting on the roosters as they fight each other to death may anger some critics, it is widely popular and allowed during traditional festivals held in the country. The history of cockfighting dates to the 11th century, during the Ly Dynasty and has become a regular fixture during festivals and are heavily attended by men from all walks of life.
This national pastime of Vietnam requires training their fighting cocks to ensure that they can fight to the death. Raising roosters primed for cockfighting ain’t cheap. It requires breeders and owners to shell out some money to provide the appropriate training including equipment, trainer, and food.
Fighting cock training starts early. Trainers must first carefully choose young chickens they want to prime for fighting. Food and drink are prepared separately and they must be kept separate from hens. They need to become acquainted with their owner, so some trainers only allow the owners to hold them.
There are three main chicken species from which fighting cocks come from. This includes black roosters with a red comb known to have incredible stamina to fight until their death; white roosters with ivory coloured feet and round yellow eyes for their temperament and performance of lightning-fast fights; and the five-coloured cocks with coatings of yellow, brown, red, black, and blackish blue feathers for their unique flexibility and knowing when to run away when necessary.
To know which fighting cock to choose for training, they must be noted to have the natural fighting tendency. Note for any aggression in chickens as early as 6 weeks. Once noted, start training them to develop their fighting ability, pain resistance, and willingness to fight opponents.
Some owners breed up to 20 cocks at a time. These roosters get the best care as soon as they start competing as early as they are one year old until they are about two years old. Roosters get daily baths, facial wash, and exercises. They also get unhusked rice, vegetables, and sometimes meat such as snakes and eels for protein.
Once trainers train the cocks for fighting, they need to condition them for each fight. Some conditioning last for weeks. During this period, cocks undergo sparring, proper diet and nutrition, and isolation. Fighting cocks are often isolated from other roosters so they become aggressive and hungry to fight, which can translate to winning when it comes to their main fight.
Rules per cockfight depend on the region, fighting cocks can have weights ranging from one kilogram to six kilograms. Several weight classes in fights include PR or close weight less than seven pounds, P or small, M or medium, ML or medium, and G or large.
Since cockfighting in Vietnam is illegal, most of the arena used are temporary and are made up of 1.5 metre-wide ring with a 20-cm high bamboo wall screen. Spectators and bettors surround the ring and only the owners are allowed to enter to take care of their roosters. Roosters are allowed to fight inside the ring and the rooster loses if it dies during the fight or goes out of the ring twice and does not come back.
Owners of the fighting cocks negotiate before they start a fight. Roosters matched for battle are compared depending on their weight, size, and combat achievements. If one of the roosters have longer spurs, the opponent is allowed to put on artificial spurs.
Once the parties agree on the fight, owners then bring their roosters into the ring. The roosters are places on opposite sides of the ring and the owners will put down the birds once the signal to start the fight rings.
Fighting cocks would notably first try to gauge their opponents before giving out their ferocious attacks. The fight will ensue until a victorious rooster comes out. Some time each round by lighting an incense stick.
Payouts in Vietnamese cockfights can be in two forms: the loser pays the agreed amount to the winner or the loser pays the winner and forfeits the defeated rooster to the winner.
Owners of fighting cocks can discuss and agree on the bets with their opponent. Spectators, on the other hand, can look for other spectators who are willing to place their bet on the other rooster. For example, one would choose the crowd favourite or the most likely to win whilst the other one would bet on the underdog or the one that has a slimmer chance of winning. Just like in any odds game, betting on the crowd favourite means winning less and the underdog winning more.
Understanding the odds would require a little knowledge of math. But for easier understanding, some of the betting odds go by 10%, 20%, and 30% to even as much as 100%.
Since cockfighting is so widespread in the country, many illegal gambling operators have found a way to bring cockfighting events to more bettors. Whilst Vietnam has allowed sports betting in football, horse racing, and greyhound racing, cockfighting is still far from being considered a legal sport in the country. Still, this does not stop illegal gambling operators to offer online betting platforms for cockfights. Yes, you read that right. Bettors can now watch cockfights and place their bets online at local gambling dens.
Bettors simply have to open an account with access to cockfight matches held in Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, and other areas of the region. Through their accounts, they can watch the fights and choose on the roosters, and bet on their favourites. Some of the bettors prefer to bet online because it gives them the opportunity to follow on several matches at a given time, allowing them to make more bets and increase their chances of winning. Others prefer online betting because they do not have to wait for any festival to engage in the activity. They can bet even during ordinary or regular Vietnam day.
How can one bet online whilst in Vietnam?
It is not really hard. To the locals who are familiar with online betting, they only have to go to a coffee shop near the Duong Cong Khi and Truong Thi Nhu intersection in Hoc Mon District. The gambling den, posing as a coffee shop accepts bets for cockfights and provides free drinks and food for his loyal guests. Many of the guests watch in front of two television screen broadcasting the cockfights, which are live-streamed from foreign casinos.
Another cockfighting gambling den is located in Le Van Khuong Street, also in Hoc Mon District. In here, an employee will type the bets into a computer and give out the money to the guests. Located in Cat Dang Street of District 12 is a much larger coffee shop cum gambling venue. This larger facility has security cameras installed throughout the complex, probably to watch for local enforcers who might raid the facility.
Before the roosters commence their fight, the gamblers must place their wagers. Online cockfight betting is simple. Gamblers must only choose one from the two roosters, so there is really a 50% chance of winning. Minimum bets accepted start from 300,000 Vietnamese dongs but since there is no limit to how much one can bet, losing can be as much as tens of millions of dong.
Choosing a winner is based solely on pure luck since they are not the ones who trained the roosters so they do not really know how strong and notorious these fighting cocks are.
Operators of these gambling dens in Vietnam earn a commission from foreign casinos for opening their accounts.