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What ‘Luck of the Draw’ Means to Rodeo Cowboys

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If you are in Las Vegas and playing to win big in a casino, you might just hear the phrase, “luck of the draw”. Now this could mean many things. One could be a winner with the luck of the draw, one might be a loser, or you just might break even. So who’s feeling lucky?

The phrase isn’t limited to high rollers playing card games in Vegas. It just so happens to mean a great deal to contestants in the extreme sport of rodeo. In rodeo events such as bull riding, bareback riding, saddle bronc riding, steer wrestling, tie-down roping, and team roping, the contestants have to “draw” for their livestock that they then compete within their rodeo events. And, yes it’s done – straight up – the ol’ fashioned way.

Once contestants are qualified to enter a rodeo, their names are placed into a computer program that the rodeo secretary works from. The contestants’ names are placed on a list numerically at random. The only thing not random is that all rough stock contestants’ names are placed first, and then the timed event contestants after. Rough stock events are bull riding, bareback riding, and saddle bronc riding. Timed events are steer wrestling, tie-down roping, and team roping. So let’s say there are 192 contestants entered (as there are for the RAM National Circuit Finals Rodeo), then those contestants’ names are randomly numbered 1-192.

Just as the contestants who are entered in the rodeo receive a number, the livestock or animals that are entered receive a number as well. For the RAM National Circuit Finals Rodeo, the livestock numbers are placed on poker chips and placed in a hat, box, or whatever works best! Like we said, the ol’ fashioned way. Contestants will go in the order in which they were selected by the computer to draw their poker chip that states a number of the animal with which they will compete. The rough stock contestants typically draw for their livestock about one to two days in advance of the actual rodeo performance taking place. For the timed events, they draw an hour and a half prior to the actual performance.

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When the drawing happens for a Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association-sanctioned rodeo, a PRCA judge and the contracted rodeo secretary will be there to make sure all goes well. Typically, most rough stock contestants choose not to be present when the drawing happens. However, for the timed events, most of the contestants choose to be present.

For all contestants, no matter what, you MUST compete with the livestock you drew or you don’t compete at all. There is no way to dispute this. You get what you get! Hence, it might all come down to the “luck of the draw”.

In many cases, rough stock contestants will sign up for more than one rodeo in a weekend, and then they’ll decide based on personal preference (rodeo location, livestock drawn, and prize money) which rodeo they’ll actually compete in.

Now, not all rodeos do this exactly the same way. Depending on the rodeo, the PRCA might conduct a draw three days prior to a rodeo event. For the RAM National Circuit Finals Rodeo, this all takes place on site at Silver Spurs Arena.

Our RNCFR rodeo contestants have all the skill they need as they are already champions from the circuits in their rodeo events. We just hope they come packing a little luck during their travels as well. You just never know what hand you’ll be dealt or where the chips will fall, but you can only hope for the best! We wish all the qualified 2016 RNCFR contestants the best of luck in April!

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