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Clemmons NC 27012











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Serving dog agility enthusiasts throughout the greater Carolina Piedmont including the Greensboro / Winston-Salem / High Point Triad, the Raleigh / Durham / Chapel Hill Triangle, and the Charlotte Metropolitan Area







Gamblers is a strategy game with two timed periods: an opening period in which the handler may make their own course accumulating points for obstacles successfully completed; followed by a gamble or joker in which the handler must direct their dog from a greater distance through a short sequence set by the judge. To qualify, a team must earn a predetermined number of points from their opening period and then successfully complete the gamble sequence with the handler remaining behind the gamble line.


Let’s look at a recent Starters/P1 Gamblers course.



The first thing you need to know is where you can start. Sometimes the judge will set one or more lines that the dog must be set up behind. Other times the start may be a particular obstacle. If there is more than one line, doublecheck whether you can start behind any of the lines or only one of the lines. For example, on this course, there are two lines near the bottom of the coursemap. Each has an “S” circled. That should mean that both lines are start lines, you can set your dog behind either line to start. Some lines serve as both start and finish lines. If that is the case, as in this course, the line will be marked with both an “S” and an “F”.


The next thing that is good to know is where you must finish. Again, sometimes the judge will set one or more finish lines. Other times the judge may set a particular obstacle as the finish. In gamblers classes, typically the last obstacle of the gamble is also a finish. If your opening period plan might involve your dog taking a finish obstacle, it is a good idea to doublecheck whether that might end your run prematurely. In gamblers, finishing lines and obstacles are typically not “live”, that is to say your dog can cross them without stopping your run, during the opening point accumulation period.


The opening point accumulation period can be anywhere from 25 to 50 seconds. During this time, you earn points by successfully completing obstacles. USDAA gamblers courses will use one of two point systems: 1-2-3-5 or 1-3-5-7. Single jumps are typically the first tier or 1 point obstacles in either system. Tunnels and tires (“round things”) are typically the second tier and are worth 2 points in the 1-2-3-5 system, 3 points in the 1-3-5-7 system. Sets of only six weavepoles are often included in this second tier. Contact obstacles and full sets of twelve weavepoles are typically at least in the third tier and are worth at least 3 points in the 1-2-3-5 system, 5 points in the 1-3-5-7 system. One obstacle, usually one of the contact obstacles or a full set of twelve weavepoles, will be chosen for the fourth tier and be worth 5 points in the 1-2-3-5 system, 7 points in the 1-3-5-7 system.


In this course, you can see from the notes near the bottom of the course that the opening period is 30 seconds long, that points will be awarded according to the 1-2-3-5 system, and that the dogwalk will be the 5 point obstacle. It’s also noted that you will need 15 points from the opening period (in addition to a successful gamble) in order to qualify.


You can earn points from any particular obstacle out there on the field twice. Taking any individual obstacle successfully more than twice is not prohibited, it’s just that those extra attempts won’t earn points.


Sometimes the judge will impose additional restrictions for the opening period. Often you will not be able to attempt different contact obstacles in succession without attempting some other kind of obstacle in between. (This is typically so the judge can get into good judging position for each different contact obstacle.)


On this course, you can see that the gamble is the three jump combination, winged jump #1, tire #2, winged jump #3. You are allowed to take individual obstacles within the gamble sequence during your opening. You are typically even allowed to take the same individual gamble obstacle repeatedly. However, you are not allowed to rehearse the gamble during the opening. Rehearsing the gamble negates the challenge. So, in USDAA, you are not allowed to take different obstacles within the gamble in succession. You must not go directly from any one gamble obstacle to any different gamble obstacle.


The opening period ends with a horn. In addition to earning lots of points and not negating your gamble, a good opening period plan will put you and your dog into position ready to attempt the gamble when that first horn sounds. There are different ways trainers learn how to time their opening period so that they will know, at least roughly, where they’ll be when the horn sounds. This is a skill that is good to practice and develop.


While you may want your opening plan to end somewhere near the gamble, you must make sure that you are actively attempting to earn points until that first horn sounds. You are not allowed to stand still or repeatedly continue to take obstacles you’ve already taken twice for points in an attempt to “loiter” near the gamble.


After the first horn sounds, you need to position yourself behind the gamble line, the dashed line on this course, and then proceed to direct your dog toward the first obstacle of the gamble. You are allowed to take other obstacles on your way to approaching the gamble. Once your dog takes the first gamble obstacle, it must successfully continue through the rest of the gamble sequence in order, with you remaining behind the gamble line, and it must finish the gamble before the second horn sounds. How long you have to complete the gamble typically depends on the number and type of obstacles in the gamble as well as your jump height. On this course, the 12” jumping dogs have 15 seconds from the first horn to the second horn, the 16” jumping dogs have 14 seconds, the 22”& 26” jumping dogs have 13 seconds.