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How To Play Bingo

To start, know that there is an endless amount of information out there that will help you get started with the basic rules and concepts of bingo. Learning how to play bingo is quite easy and does not require much from you to get started.

If you have never played bingo before you may be thinking, how does bingo work?

In the most basic sense, a bingo game requires (at least) 3 people: a caller and two players. The game, however, is best when played with many people. This is because the chances of winning decrease and therefore increases the anticipation of winning and usually the size of the prize.

Simple Bingo Rules

Depending on what rendition of this game you are playing, the rules will vary slightly. For the most part, however, there are a handful of basic rules that are universally accepted and understood by everyone. These are all you need to learn how to play bingo.

How to Play Bingo on Paper?

You need bingo cards, a set of numbers to pull out of a bag, a Bingo Caller and a minimum of two players.

How Many Numbers in Bingo?

There are 90 or 75 numbers or balls, depending on which variation you are playing. There is also a less popular version with 80 balls known as 80 ball bingo.

Can Kids Play Bingo?

Kids can play bingo, it is a family game, however to play bingo for money or at an online site, you have to be over 18 years of age.

Getting Started

Here is what you need to know to get started as well as a few basic instructions on how to play bingo:

  • The game utilises the numbers 1- 90 or 1 – 75 (90 ball bingo or 75 ball bingo)
  • Each player gets a Bingo card
  • The card is divided into rows and columns, creating a template of 3×9 (UK) 5×5 (USA) spaces.
  • The five columns of the card (usually cardstock or cardboard) are labelled ‘B’, ‘I’, ‘N’, ‘G’, and ‘O’ from left to right
  • The single space in the centre of the card is usually (but not always) marked “Free” and is considered automatically filled
  • A “caller” will announce the numbers in one of a variety of ways, whether manually or with a mechanical ball blower, which mixes ping pong balls with blown air in a cage with 5 smaller wooden balls
  • Regardless of how the numbers are called, all numbers will match the existing numbers on the given cards
  • When a number is called, each player is to mark the corresponding number on his or her card with a chip or marker
  • A player wins by completing a row, column, or a diagonal stretch of 5 successive spaces. The winner is required to call out the word, “Bingo!” or “Full House” which lets other players know the bingo game is potentially over or that a slight pause will follow as the card is checked for accuracy and to ensure that the player has not made any mistakes.

These are the basic Bingo rules and instructions. It is fairly simple and straightforward. It is also very easy to learn, which makes it appealing to so many different types of people.

Classic Game Variations

There are ways to increase the difficulty of the game and make it a bit more challenging if you want a faster-paced game. Utilising these techniques can draw the game out a bit and make it last longer.

Similarly, if you want to get the game moving a bit faster, you can consider adding additional ways to win if you want to speed up the game.

Other patterns (in addition to completing a row, column or a diagonal) are considered valid in certain types of special play and may include:

To play the game, every player needs at least 1 card. Each card contains 25 spaces with a mix of numbers (1 – 90 or 1 – 75) and 5 letters.

  • The “Postage Stamp”, which is the 2X2 square of marked squares in the upper-right-hand corner
  • “Four Corners”, which is another form of winning
  • “Roving L”, which requires players to cover all B’s and top or bottom row or all O’s and top or bottom row
  • Finally, the “Blackout”, is considered to be one of the highest achievements in bingo and requires players to cover all 24 card numbers as well as the free space

A caller will announce a number that would correspond to one of the numbers on each card. For example, the caller might say, A8 or B19. If players have a space reading A8 or B19 on their card, they would then take a chip to cover that number.

Once someone fills 5 consecutive spaces on the card, usually in the form of a horizontal, vertical or diagonal streak, the player is to call out the phrase, “Bingo!” or “Full House”. The player will then be asked to verify his or her card by reading out loud the marked numbers on it.

Once the caller can confirm that these are the correct numbers a winner will be announced and the boards are (usually) cleared to begin again with a blank slate.

This process repeats itself until the winnings are earned or, in a more informal atmosphere, the players are ready to stop playing.

How to Play Online Bingo

Learning to play online bingo is as easy as the game itself. Most sites require you to enter some login details first but once that is out of the way then you’re off and running. You use your debit or credit card to put money into your account and then it is up to you what you choose to play.

Most operators have several games to choose from with varying jackpots. Once you have chosen which game you want to play, a debit will be taken from the amount that you deposited and you’re free to play.

A virtual announcer will display numbers in succession, much in the way a traditional announcer would and you click off the numbers that you have. If you win the line or the house, the money will be deposited into your account. You are then free to use this to play more games, or you can withdraw it at any time. It’s completely up to you.

There has been some concern over whether online bingo will be affected by Brexit. It’s possible that there will be some changes, however nothing is certain yet.

How to Play Bingo at a Bingo Hall

Playing this game at a hall is fairly similar to how you would play it online, however, there are a few key differences that are worth paying attention to.

First, expect the game to move a lot more quickly. Playing this game in a relaxed social environment is a lot different than playing in an organised hall, where the caller will call out the numbers rapidly and you have to be mentally alert and on top of things to keep up with all of the number calling.

Second, once a “Bingo!” is called out there will be an assistant, commonly referred to as a floorwalker, that will come and verify the correctness of the card. In an informal setting, such as playing with friends, it would be just fine to have the individual read out their marked numbers to the caller, but because of the fast-paced environment of this game, a floorwalker is necessary.

Keep your eyes out for special offers that might indicate a slight change in rules for the evening. Sometimes printed handouts are made to tell the players which rules supersede the house rules for the evening.

Here are some key things to keep in mind as you prepare to play at an organised hall or event:

  • Players must be 18 years or older
  • Food and drink may or may not be prohibited, depending on which hall you are playing in
  • If the hall is selling food or drink it is usually frowned upon or taboo for players to bring in food from outside of the building
  • During especially high-stake games you may be prohibited from entering and leaving the premises during play
  • Reserving specific cards may or may not be allowed. Inquire in advance if this is something you would like to do
  • For the most part, it is not acceptable for friends and family to sit around and watch you play. They may be asked to buy in and, at the very least, you will have to add them to an attendance card

Finally, we offer one final word of practical but essential advice. If you win you will want to make sure that you have a valid and up-to-date photo ID with you.

For larger jackpots, players might have to provide proof of their National Insurance Card as well and fill out paperwork for tax purposes.

Playing Bingo in the UK

If you have heard of the increase in popularity of bingo in the UK and would like to learn the rules, then you’re not alone. Learning how to play online bingo in the UK couldn’t be simpler as there is such a large community surrounding it.

You start with a sheet of random numbers between 1 and 75. Once the game begins, an announcer will call out one number at a time and if you have that number on your sheet you’ll mark it off.

The first person to complete a line in any direction will win a cash prize. The game then continues until someone completes their entire sheet and calls’ house’. They are then named the overall winner of the game and will receive a bigger cash prize than the person who won the line game.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does 4 corners mean in bingo?

When playing bingo, “4 corners” is one variation of the game where players have to get the numbers in the top left and top right corners, and the bottom left and bottom right corners to win.

What is a full house in bingo?

A full house is achieved in bingo when a player crosses off all of the numbers on their bingo card.

How are bingo prizes calculated?

The prize or jackpot for a bingo game is usually calculated by the number of players or tickets bought for the game. The more players or tickets bought, the higher the jackpot will be.