Australians Catch Paul The Octopus Fever, by Greg Tingle - 9th July 2010

The Australian punting public and a number Aussie politicians and journalists have fallen in love with Paul The Octopus, and his curious mania and fever travels coast to coast, Paul's now the toast of the coast (but has managed to stay off the grill and out of boiler to date)... Media Man and Gambling911 spread their tentacles across the Atlantic, voyaging into the Pacific Ocean, reaching out to the golden sands of Bondi Beach, the Gold Coast and beyond.

It's official, Aussie's have been wrap up in Paul The Octopus Mania, with fevers been reported at hospitals across nationwide. The surgeon general advises the fever is only temporary and will relax one once the FIFA World Cup concludes, and a full recovery is forecast once the outcome of the upcoming Australian political election has been decided.

Journalists, politicians and internet entrepreneurs are understood to be in the bracket most susceptible to risk.

Millions of soccer nuts worldwide have taken the bait from the King Of All Octopuses and his management and will be watching when Paul The Octopus decides if he'll embraces his highly trained tentacles around a Spain's flag or that of the Netherlands.

The world's most famous sea creature and man of the moment is enjoying his stay at a German zoo, and hasn't put a foot wrong on soccer selections since the 2008 European final.

He will accurately predict the result of the World Cup final, but only if his workload has not exhausted him, a spokesman said.

The 8th wonder of the world, who shocked Germany by tipping the Spaniard's in the semi-final will today make his prediction for the 3rd place playoff between Germany and Uruguay.

Paul's handlers will follow the familiar and tried and tested routine...2 boxes will be lowered into his think tank, each containing a tasty selection of thinking octopus food and the flags of the two opposing teams.

Whichever box Paul opens is judged to be the winner of course.

Paul will then be offered boxes with Spanish and Dutch flags, the two teams in Sunday's showcase final for his consideration, but only if he is deemed not too tired to think drawing upon his out of this world powers.

"We do not want to overburden him," the spokesman said.

Punters would be at least $2538 AUD better off if they'd wagered $10 down at the conclusion and punted their winnings each time the octopus made his World Cup selection.

The switched on, gambling savvy animal has selected bait from boxes, representing Germany and its opponents, since the start of the South African spectacle.

Fans are convinced the uncanny cephalopod is much more intelligent than your average mollusk, bear, and may be as smart as a dolphin or whale.

Australian animal experts have been considering training up cattle dogs, sheep dogs and Labradors to see if they can achieved similar accuracy in picking winners to our friend Paul. The Australian Police Force, Customs and leading cattle stations have long enjoyed working side by side with animals, with most successes to date coming from K9's, man's best friend.

Aussie and Asia Pacific casino king, James Packer, also tuned into the ocean with one of his pads being located at Bondi Beach, is understood to have taken note of Paul's expertise. Mr Packer's Macau City Of Dreams and the Ho family connection, Melco - Crown and the like, have also taken note. The City Of Dreams has a US$250 million entertainment show 'The House of Dancing Water', and casino special attraction top brass are rumoured to be looking at ways to include Paul in their act, that is if business terms and creative juices flow. It all depends if Paul will put his tentacles on the bottom line, and if he can handle the extra workload.

Back to the soccer field, until the semi-final, Paul picked Germany's box before each match, except in the "group game" phase, when its Serbia's box caught his appetite. Serbia did win sports analysts advise.

When he went for a Spanish snack before yesterday AM s emi-final, it sent an curious sign to Germans.

CSIRO statistics man Geoff Robinson said the underwater gambling expert was a phenom.

"Odds are one chance in two to the power of six of guessing correctly - assuming that the octopus doesn't have psychic powers". And one in every 64 potential octopus substitutes would be expected to do this well. It isn't at all surprising. He is just lucky, and very photographic."

Melbourne Aquarium staffers advise octopuses are more savvy than you might think.

"They are one of the few animals that need interaction to stimulate them through the day," assistant curator Ali Edmunds said, "so we have lots of toys to keep them entertained. But ours can't place bets. They are very trainable and will do just about anything."

Swim back to Germany, disappointment at their 1-0 defeat to Spain turned to anger with some sections of the 350,000 sized crowd in Berlin insulting and even threatening both Paul and his mother.

To Media Man's outrage some fans have begun posting recipes on the internet, believing that Paul's reward for his clairvoyant powers should be a meeting with the boiler or BBQ, side by side with an Aussie shrimp on the barbie. Australian TV, movie (and BBQ tourism) legend Paul Hogan is remaining silent on the subject.

The Spanish Prime Minister has offered state protection for Paul as anger grows, but shrinks think he must be joking.

As earlier published by publishing powerhouse Gambling911...

"I am concerned for the octopus ... I am thinking of sending him a protective team," said Spanish Prime Minister Jose Zapatero on Radio Cadena Ser. His Environment and Fisheries Minister, Elena Espinosa, also suggested a moratorium on going after Paul. "On Monday, I shall be at the European Council of Ministers and I shall be asking for a (fishing) ban on Paul the octopus so the Germans do not eat him!"

German journalists are understood to have had sudden cravings for seafood, with squid being their favored item off the menu. One sports mad German journo said after the semi-final that he had "a sudden desire to eat a bit of squid".

Word of this swam to to Spanish fans and even ahead of the match Spanish Industry Minister Miguel Sebastian called for the creature to be given an "immediate" free transfer to Spain to "ensure his protection".

Political Update Thanks To Paul...

Australian Prime Minister, the smart, humble and most sexy Julia Gillard, will win the next election however Labor will 8 seats, the Aussie punters predict at this time. Rumours circulating around Bondi Beach tip that Paul The Octopus also agrees.

The Federal Government's chances, stocks and image, so it seems, have improved quite a bit since Labor boned (thanks Eddie McGuire) Kevin "Bloody" Rudd last month in favour of his former deputy Ms Gillard (speculation reigns for how long she will remain a Ms... marriage this year?)

Aussie betting - gaming giant Centrebet (Betfair - James Packer 50% owned is the competitor) still expects the Government to lose 8 seats at the upcoming election however still enough to form a 10-seat majority. That's 10 (think of Julia as the Bo Derek of Aussie politics hey baby).

Twitter - For Twits Or Smart Operators?...

Oh, did we mention... Julia Gillard recently joined the social networking craze with her Twitter account


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The Late News

Just in punters, Paul is rumoured to be swimming down to Bondi Beach to meet and greet the Bondi Beach Chamber of Commerce within the coming month. The rumour mill says Paul wants a friendly word in the ear of Malcolm "No Bull" Turnbull, former Leader of the Liberal Party. Malcolm "No Bull" Turnbull is a nature lover with at least 4 dogs and is a pro active member of the local surf club. We'll be quizzing Mal on whether he eats Octopus or not, and will be reporting back the findings. Current Liberal leader Tony Abbott will not be attending the upcoming function, but is a keen ocean swimmer, but hasn't spotted Paul in his swimming routes to date.

Bondi Surf Lifesaving Club and Network Ten's Bondi Rescue remain on high alert.

*The writer is a special contributor for Gambling911

*Media Man is primarily a media, publicity and internet portal development company. Gaming is just one of a bakers dozen of sectors they cover. They also offer political analysis and commentary.

*No animals or sea creatures were harmed in the research of this report

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