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7 Tips For When Learning How To Play Pato, The Duck Game

If you want to learn how to play Pato, the dangerous duck game from Argentina, here are seven tips for you to bear in mind.

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Image source: David [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Dating back to 1610, and frequently outlawed in the centuries since, this fast moving, and above all dangerous, equestrian sport used to involve a live duck in a basket, and whilst (somewhat fortunately for ducks) times have changed, and may soon allow you to bet on Pato at online sportsbook sites in Argentina like Unibet, the chances of being trampled haven’t. So if you’re intent on learning how to play Pato we’ve got seven salient points to keep in mind.  

  1. Selecting A Steed

How To Play Pato
Traditional polo pony (Image source: William Murphy – Flickr)

When selecting a horse for use in the process of learning how to play Pato it might be tempting to go for speed over power. However, whilst acceleration might well be important the traditional polo pony might not be best for beginners. A barrel racer might suit the inexperienced. Especially with a balanced change of direction and good short distance speed making up for the lack of stride over the length of the pitch. Play is rarely at such range that the difference will be appreciable to you early on. 

  1. Going For Goal

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Pato Game (Image source: Beatrice Murch – Flickr)

Keep in mind that the goal is not a horizontal hoop but a vertical one. It sets on a pole some 240cm high. That 100cm diameter might sound like quite an easy target to hit. Nevertheless, you should remember that atop a moving horse being jostled by your opponents… It’ll be quite the achievement to get one in the net that ensures no one argues what was or was not a scoring move. When learning how to play Pato it will prove far more difficult to get “the duck” on target than you might imagine. 

  1. Have A Ball

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Pato ball (Image source: Fioravante Patrone [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons)
The ball is made of leather . Once it’s in your possession, you must hold out at arm’s length by use of one of the six handles. It is an infraction of the game for you not to allow the chance for opponents to “tug” it from you. Once two players are involved in a tug neither must sit in the saddle. Instead, they must stand in the stirrups, and those who bet on sports in Argentina at sites like Unibet will tell you this is the most vital part of the game to master. Especially if you want to learn how to play Pato.

  1. Using The Field

The playing area might be between neighboring ranches. In addition, these matches typically involved people dying. These days the pitch is usually between 180 and 220 meters long and 80 or 90 meters wide. This gives lots of space for flanking moves and escape drives once a tug is won. So be sure to use the entire width of the pitch whilst learning how to play Pato. However, you shouldn’t allow opponents to out maneuver you. They can do that by drawing out to the side as they go up the middle.

  1. Follow The Rules

The use of a duck in a basket as the ball has, those of you learning how to play Pato will be glad to hear, vanished into the mists of history and the proper codification of rules by the aptly named Alberto del Castillo Posse back in the 1930s allowed the game to become the country’s national sport in 1953, since which the legitimacy of the sport has increased to the point where many do still take advantage of Argentinian gambling laws to place a wager on Pato at the pitch side.  

  1. Win The Game

You’ll only have six “Periods” of eight minutes, each to score as often as you can. That sounds like a lot of time. Nevertheless, you’ll discover as you learn how to play Pato that it really isn’t. The potential speed of the game at odds with the positional play required of any modern equestrian sport. Charging in to tug and run is great in theory but successful players are often those that see ahead of time. The ones who know where they should be and place themselves there at the crucial moment in play.

  1. Safety Situation

It’s relative. Getting tugged off a horse, in what will rapidly turn into the busiest part of the pitch when it comes to fast moving hooves, is a recipe for a long hospital stay. Whilst your head will be protected by a helmet the rest of you won’t be, and in learning how to play Pato you may find yourself so seriously injured you’ll only be able to watch and bet on it at Unibet, one of the best online sportsbook sites in Argentina these days, if you still have use of all your fingers. 

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