We were just in the Philippines and attended a cockfight, known locally as sabong, and after walking in the entrance below the arena, the roar brought me back to when the trading pits were busy. I mentioned to my local buddy that it’s amazing how excited everyone is for the fight in progress and he said no, that roar is from all the betting. Sure enough when we walked up to our seats in the balcony, the noise was deafening and visually was also amazing as betting is done w/a series of handsignals across the arena.
Just like the trading floors there were middle man to broker bets, known as cristos (ironically the Latin name for Christ but sometimes spelled w/a K to differentiate) and for instance split a $200 bet into smaller bets like $40, $60, $50, $50. However unlike the trading pits, every transaction is done by memory so nothing is written down and every bet is settled immediately after each cockfight in cash which is rolled up and thrown across the arena. This is probably the reason why no beer is sold in the arena.
Cockfighting is big business in the Philippines and the current 8 cock derby (each entrant has 8 roosters) we attended had a $750,000 USD pot for the winner. To get up to that kind of money, the derby runs 24 hours a day for about a week, involves about 2400 roosters and is simulcast on tv. I didn’t realize how big it was until we got to the door and paid $20-$30 each for admission which is a big amount in the Philippines. Here’s a 2 minute phone video of the action and to give perspective, we were there about 6pm and heard by midnight it’s standing room only. A longer 4 minute video can also be seen by clicking here.