Learn the basics of bingo using our informative guide and try out your luck. If you’re interested in playing online bingo, or even land-based bingo, here are the things you might want to know. We laid out every single relevant information about the game that every beginner should know before playing.
Read on to find out everything you need to know about bingo, from what it comprises to how to play the game that relies on pure luck.
What is Bingo?
Bingo is a game of chance where players use cards with numbers placed on a grid in different arrangements. An announcer will draw random numbers and broadcast them so players can mark them on their cards. Players win if they cover numbers that form a specific pattern like a diagonal or horizontal line. Shouting “Bingo!” is also a normal thing to do when a player wins.
A typical bingo card is printed on a thin piece of paper with 25 squares that form a 5×5 grid. Each box contains a number, and sometimes, the middle square is empty or called a free square. There are other types of cards like a 3×9 grid, and they are used for different kinds of bingo games.
The columns of 5×5 cards are labeled ‘B,’ ‘I,’ ‘N,’ ‘G,’ and ‘O’ from left to right. Moreover, each column has a specific range of numbers, like the ‘B’ column is from 1 to 15.
Bingo players use a unique marker called daubers to mark their cards faster. It is essentially a pen that makes a circle, but the number can still be visible. The pen is non-toxic and non-staining, and it has purple ink, but there are other daubers with different ink colors.
Bingo balls are usually made from a lightweight material like plastic, so they can quickly tumble inside a blower. However, wooden bingo balls are available in the market and they are also lightweight. The balls are numbered consecutively according to the available numbers of the bingo game (up to 90). They are also colored and lettered with ‘B,’ ‘I,’ ‘N,’ ‘G,’ and ‘O.’
Players can mishear numbers as they sometimes sound alike, like 42 and 52. Bingo calls are nicknames used by a bingo caller to figuratively say the number they have drawn. A call can also include the number of balls called in the game, or how many are left to reach the jackpot.
For example, a bingo announcer may call the number 89 which has the nickname “Nearly there” so they would announce: “89! Nearly there!”. Another example with the number 22 which is “Two little ducks”. The announcer would shout “22! Two little ducks!”
See our bingo vocabulary for the comprehensive list of bingo number nicknames.
There are different rules and regulations that a bingo player needs to adhere to while playing the game.
- Players can’t reserve a seat in the bingo hall. Seating is on a first-come, first-serve basis.
- The bingo cards, sheets, or tickets are valid only when they are bought or on the day of the game.
- All possible winning cards need to be checked before declaring a win.
- A player may claim bingo before the caller announces the game is closed for it to be valid.
- Players have the right to verify the numbers called at any time during a bingo game.
- The bingo caller should announce the patterns or the game mechanics at the start of each game.
- There should be checkers of the possible winning cards, and they should not be playing the game.
- The bingo balls should be checked before the bingo session if they are all there.
Different Types of Bingo
Most people think that you can bingo one way. However, there are different ways you can play bingo and win prizes. Here are some of the types of bingo games you can play online or in bingo halls.
British Bingo (90-Ball)
British Bingo (or 90-ball bingo) is a popular bingo game in the United Kingdom. Players use a 3×9 grid card, but each row has only five numbers, and the rest are blank. Moreover, each column can only contain a specific range of numbers from one to 90. For example, the first column from the left can only have numbers from 1 to 10. The second can only contain numbers from 11 to 20, and so on.
80-Ball Bingo is another type of bingo game played in bingo halls or on online sites. As the name implies, the game uses balls numbered from 1 to 80 that spread in a 4×4 card. Each column has a specific set of numbers like 1 to 20 for the first one.
American Bingo (75-Ball)
American bingo (or 75-ball bingo) is the most popular bingo game worldwide. Players use 5×5 bingo cards, and each column is labeled with ‘B,’ ‘I,’ ‘N,’ ‘G,’ and ‘O’, respectively. Each column also has a specific set of numbers, like numbers 1 to 15 for column B. There is also an empty square in the middle called a free square.
40-ball bingo is a fast-paced game for people on-the-go. A bingo card for this game eight sets of numbers, forming a 2×4 grid. Each column has a specific range of numbers. For example, column 1 may contain numbers from 1 to 10. Players can win when they can mark one line, the four corners, or two lines.
36-ball bingo is predominantly played through online bingo sites. It is also called cash cubes because players use cubes instead of bingo cards. The cubes form a 2×2 grid, which contains any combination of numbers from one to 36. Players need to have a full house or mark all the numbers to win.
Mini 30-Ball Bingo
Mini 30-ball bingo is another quickfire bingo game that can be played on online bingo sites. It is played using a 3×3 bingo card, and each column has a range of numbers. Column 1 is from 1 to 10, column 2 is from 11 to 20, and column 3 is 21-30.
How To Play Bingo
Bingo is a relatively easy game to play. The steps on how to play bingo are similar to both online websites and in bingo halls. To get you familiarized, here’s how a game of bingo unfolds.
The first thing bingo players need to do is to register. In bingo halls, players must buy a minimum number of the cards necessary to join a bingo session. You can buy as many cards or bingo books that you want, as long as you can handle marking them all. Also, a part of this step is the bingo dauber. Players can bring their dauber or purchase one in the bingo hall.
In online bingo websites, players need to create an account so that they can join games. They also need to deposit some money to their online bingo account to continue playing games.
2. Listen To The Caller
Once you have your cards or set up your online bingo account, it’s time to play bingo. Aside from being a game of chance, bingo is also a listening game. Players need to listen closely to the bingo caller as they indicate the next type of game or pattern.
They also need to pay attention to the caller when they announce the number drawn. If a player claims bingo after the caller informs everyone the game is closed, it is considered invalid. However, players can verify the numbers called at any time during a bingo game.
3. Mark the Numbers
Use your bingo dauber to mark the numbers as the caller announces them. You can use other means like covering them with coins, but a dobber is the best tool for playing bingo. Some modernized bingo halls use an electronic dauber that automatically marks the numbers in multiple cards. In online bingo sites, players simply click on the numbers when a random number generator flashes them on the screen.
4. Shout BINGO! (Hopefully)
Once you have completed the winning pattern, yell “Bingo!” as loud as you can. Before declaring a player the winner, checkers will double-check if they have a winning card. If the patterns correct, the player wins. If not, the bingo caller will continue to announce numbers until there’s a winner.
In online or mobile bingo games, players can click “Bingo” on the screen to notify the game. Like the ones in bingo halls, the possible winning card in online bingo needs to be checked.
Where to Play Bingo
There are a lot of avenues where a bingo player can get their fair share of the game. Here are the top places people can play bingo:
Live Bingo Halls
A bingo hall is a place where live bingo games are held. The area is either donated, leased, or rented. A bingo hall is sometimes apportioned to a person that has a bingo license. It is usually big enough to accommodate 100 to 200 players. Typically, the elderly are seen flocking to spend their free time, and the facility is also associated with old ladies.
In the advent of technology, bingo invaded the internet. Numerous online bingo sites popped up to accommodate bingo players who cannot visit a bingo hall. Moreover, these sites are mostly used by people from ages 25 to 34.
People usually play online bingo through their personal computers or laptops. Players need to create an account and deposit some money to play online bingo. Moreover, it uses a random number generator or RND to provide a number. It also has chatrooms where people can talk to other bingo players.
People created mobile bingo apps to reach more players who are interested in playing. These apps can be played through any portable device such as smartphones and tablets. Like online bingo sites, players need to create an account to play. Players can earn credits by playing, and they can also deposit money to buy customization to their account. However, some apps don’t let players withdraw their winnings but convert them to game credits.
Local Bingo Clubs
Like bingo halls, local bingo clubs are physical facilities that hold bingo games. Like any other clubs, most bingo clubs have a member-only policy or only cater to their community members. The club can be located in a community hall or a place rented out by the club members. However, prizes for the bingo games are limited to non-monetary rewards.
Bingo is a game that has its own set of customs, terms, lingo, and without these, you may feel out of place and ill-at-ease. Especially if you are playing in person at a local bingo hall, or with experienced friends.
History of Bingo
The game originated in 16th century Italy with the game Lo Giuoco del Lotto D’Italia. The game quickly spread to the French aristocrats as Le Lotto and in Great Britain in the 18th century. The 18th-century game has the same mechanics as the current bingo game.
The news of a new game started to spread, and bingo flew to different countries, most notably the United States. Hugh J. Ward created the game and popularized it in carnivals. He later standardized the game by publishing a rule book in 1933.
However, it is believed that bingo was coined in the US in 1929 through Edwin Lowe. He saw the game in a carnival, and people were shouting “Beano!” as they were using dried beans as daubers. He brought the game back to his friends, and one of them called “Bingo!” instead of “Beano.”
Here are some answers to the most common questions about bingo gambling.
Is bingo gambling?
Bingo is considered gambling as it involves cash or monetary exchange. However, it is not classed as illegal gambling as long as the government regulates it.
Is online bingo rigged?
An online bingo game can be fixed or rigged. Although there are legit and secured bingo websites, some were made to take a player’s money unfairly.
How to win at bingo every time?
There are many ways that a player can win at bingo, like buying a considerable amount of cards. However, by definition, bingo is a game of chance, which means you need to take a gamble to win consecutively.
How much can you win at bingo?
How much you can win at a bingo depends on the game you’re playing, but you can double the money you have paid for the game. Some games also give non-monetary prizes such as merchandise or other items.
What makes a good bingo caller?
Bingo callers should have a clear speaking voice so each number can be heard correctly. They should also have a great personality that exemplifies confidence.
Is bingo same as tombola?
Bingo is very different from the tombola. A tombola is played using a drum or hat filled with numbered raffle tickets.
How to cheat at bingo?
Although cheating is not advisable and punishable by law, some try to print the winning cards’ exact copy. They will also conspire with the bingo caller or the owner of the bingo hall.
What is the difference between bingo and slingo?
What are the best bingo numbers to pick?
When picking the best bingo numbers, players can use the Tippett Theory or Granville’s strategy. These theories look at the numbers on the bingo cards to determine if it’s a winning ticket.
Is the game of bingo really random?
Bingo games are highly random, as the numbers are generated electronically or by a bingo blower. The only way the game will not be random if it’s rigged.
Bingo is a trendy game nowadays because it is easy to play and gives out hefty prizes. However, it is still a game of chance, and one should not play it excessively.