We have always played that both teams throw one stick closest to the king at the same time (count of 3) and the closest goes first. If you knock the king down the other team automatically start first but you don't loose the game in this instance. These are the same rules used at the world tournament in Sweden when we were there last year, and a few thousand Sweeds can't be wrong! Sure its an advantage, but all part of the game.
I think on the first go you have to have one stick spare to throw at the king but we never knocked down 5 on the first go anyway. That doesn't apply on any other goes.
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