C'mon, Let's Gamble!

Copyright by Cheryl May. May be reprinted without permission 1) if used in its entirety without editing; and 2) provided copyright notice remains in place.

This article remains posted on my Web site mostly for sentimental reasons -- it was the favorite class of my beloved sheltie, Rocky, who died in May 2005. I have received complaints about this article -- that it doesn't reflect the current NADAC rules.

If you choose to read this article, please know that NADAC gamblers is now part of the standard run and the rules are very different from the "old days." Enter at your own discretion. Personally, I think it is still fun. But that's just me. Do not take my word for it, please.

The article below has NOT been updated to reflect the new Gamblers rules in NADAC. Know that before you read!

Among the most challenging agility games is the Gamblers Class. Gamblers is offered by USDAA and as a portion of the standard class by NADAC. A version of gamblers, "Call, Direct and Send," once was offered by AKC as a non-regular class. I was very disappointed when Jumpers became the AKC game of choice instead. This article will discuss Gamblers in NADAC-style agility.

Please check the NADAC Web site for the latest rules.

In a gamblers class, you and your dog have a specific amount of time to accumulate points before the gamble part begins. You essentially design your own course to get the most points possible in the time you have. A whistle blows to begin the gamble. You then send your dog at least 10 feet away to work a series of obstacles at your direction. You may not cross over the gamble line established by the judge.

Please don't decide that you won't try gamblers because it is too challenging. There are reasons to enter gamblers even if you don't think your dog can perform the gamble. The first and most important reason is to get your dog on the course to try out the contact obstacles. Gamblers is always the first class, and is held before the titling classes, so your dog gets warmed up and you become familiar with the footing of the trial ring.

Gamblers tests the course handling strategies of the handler and the distance control and directional control of the dog. The dog's ability to differentiate between obstacles (such as a tunnel and a jump) may be tested as well.

Novice gamblers obstacles may include hurdles, tire jump, open tunnel and table. Open may include hurdles, tire jump, tunnels, teeter-totter, A-frame and table. Elite may include hurdles, including spread hurdles, tire jump, tunnels, A-frame, teeter-totter, weave poles and table.

In NADAC gamblers, the judge is responsible for establishing the time allotted for the gamble. The time given for the point accumulation period is 40 seconds for dogs jumping 20" and 24" and 45 seconds for the smaller dogs. During point accumulation, novice dogs must earn at least 20 points, open 24 and elite 28.

Jumps/hurdles are worth 1 point each; the tire jump and tunnels are worth 3 points; 5-6 weave poles (novice level) are worth 3 points; the A-frame, dog walk and teeter-totter are worth 5 points each; and a set of 10-12 weave poles also is worth 5 points.

Novice dogs must work the gamble 10 feet away from the handler, open 15 feet and elite 20 feet.

The judge may design a gamble that requires the handler to remain in a specific stationary position on the course during the gamble, but this would be unusual. Usually, the handler gets to run along a boundary, but must remain a minimum distance away from each obstacle during the gamble.

Many gambles begin with an obstacle which starts the gamble and also serves as a boundary line for the handler (such as a jump) so therefore the first obstacle would not have to be the minimum distance away.

In order to earn a title, the dog must qualify twice in the class.

So come on out and give it a try! It is just as addictive as you might assume, based on its name.

back to the Cheryl May page