The Rules of Bingo
Bingo is a game that has existed in one form or other for hundreds of years; but while the game may have changed in appearance, the rules have always remained the same. When you play the game, the aim is simple – numbers are selected by one person and marked off on the tickets of others. The first person to cover a specified group of numbers is the winner.
The Basics – Bingo Hall Playing
Whether you are playing bingo in a bingo hall or online, the first thing that you will need to do is purchase your tickets. In a bingo hall, these are often bought in books of six tickets per game and have several pages in the books, one page for each game. Games can rush by quite quickly in the bingo hall so beginners may find it easier to ask for three tickets rather than six to start with. Printed on each page of tickets are the numbers 1-90 in three rows of five numbers. Here is an example of four pages of bingo tickets:
Most often, games in the bingo hall are broken into three parts. A one-line win, a two-line win and a full house (three-line win). This means that you get three chances to win in each game. A computer system or machine will generate each number and a caller will call out each number as it is produced by the machine. These numbers are generated randomly, and in the case of electronic machines are tested on a regular basis to ensure that they are fair and impartial.
When the numbers are called out the players mark each number off on their card. So for example, if you are playing on the green card above and number 60 was called you would mark off the number 60 on the top line of the top card. Mark off the number 2, 42, 54 and 83 on that line too during a 1 line game and you’ve won.
Calling and verifying wins
Any player who wins needs to yell out to stop the caller from continuing the game. This must be done before the next number is called otherwise the win is lost. It is therefore very important to yell out loudly and clearly. Common calls are ‘Here’, ‘House’ and ‘Winner!’
If the game play is stopped for this reason, another staff member will verify your win by checking the numbers of your card against the numbers that have been called. To do this, card numbers are usually supplied for an electronic game (the small numbers running up the right-hand side of the cards above). When the bingo caller puts this card number in their computer system they can tell if you have won or not.
If, however, you are playing in a church or at a fun day there may not be an electronic bingo machine, instead an old school ball machine may be used. Winning calls on these games will have to be verified manually. A bingo colleague will read out each number marked off on your card and the caller will check the numbers against their list of called numbers. If both lists match, and the last number called is the number that you shouted on, you win.
How a Bingo Machine Works
With electronic machines the numbers are generated by the computer, but the ball machines are a little bit different. These machines resemble a National Lottery machine and balls are rotated in the drum before being drawn into a tube or gulley and presented to the bingo caller. The caller will then look at the ball and call the number out. Other than the means of generating each number there are no other differences in the game play from the electronic game.
More than one winner?
When playing bingo, it is important to note that more than one winner can call for a win at the same time. In the event of successful winning claims from more than one player the prize money (or prize item if money is not used) will be divided equally between the winning players. To share a bingo prize, you must call on the same number. Once a successful win claim has been made that game is completed and the next game begins.
Online bingo offers a little more choice when it comes to game play, providing online players with 75 ball and 90 ball bingo rooms as standard. When playing online, numbers are called out by an automated system that is checked by external adjudicators to ensure that it is fair for all. The most recent number and its predecessors are displayed easily on the screen for a player to check their progress.
Players can choose to either mark off their numbers themselves using their mouse (or finger on a touch screen) or can allow the CPU to automatically do this for them. If choosing the latter option, players can take advantage of the larger amount of tickets available per game. While playing in person in a bingo hall allows you six tickets a game, online game players can buy up to 92 tickets a game. This is a great way of increasing your chances of winning.
Each game ticket is purchased individually, not in a book of tickets for several games, allowing players to keep an eye on their budget and bet according to their needs. Ticket prices vary between 1p-£1.00 per ticket, with larger ticket prices going hand in hand with larger potential winnings.
The major bonus of playing online is that you can play at a time that suits your lifestyle, rather than attending a bingo session at your local club at a fixed time. This means that if you find yourself bereft of something to do in an evening you can simply log on and play. Mobile bingo is also available, meaning that you can play while you are on the go regardless of location.
75 Ball Bingo
While online tickets for 90 ball bingo are identical to those found in a bingo hall, the game of 75 ball bingo is a little different. Here the ticket is divided into five rows of five numbers and games can be won in several ways.
Line, two-line, three-line, four-line, full house
Like the one, two and three-line winning possibilities in 90 ball bingo, the 75-ball bingo also has its own version, but considers all five lines. This offers more opportunities to win, but the prize funds are divided over five games instead of three.
Sometimes in lieu of completing lines, the player is required to mark off a pattern made up of numbers on their cards. Common patterns include the clock pattern, the windmill pattern and various animal patterns. Here is an example of the windmill pattern:
The winning party is the one who completes the desired pattern first. Sometimes these patterns have a fixed position on the ticket, other times it can be ‘crazy’ meaning it can be anywhere on the ticket or rotated in any direction to count as a win.