How to play Bingo
Learn How to Play Online Bingo
The aim of this guide is to provide newbies with a fountain of knowledge and fill in any gaps for more experienced players. Here you will find a brief background of the game, a breakdown of the rules of bingo, as well as tips, strategies, and ways to play. By the end of this guide, you should feel comfortable with everything about the game and all its different versions.
What is Bingo?
You may have heard of ‘bingo’ and some of the humourous lingo associated with it, but do you really know the ins and outs of the popular game? The history of the game will be covered in the next section, but in a nutshell, it is all about marking numbers on cards as numbers are announced by a caller at random.
The winner is declared as the first person to mark all their numbers, usually after the classic exclamation “BINGO!”. Of course, if you’re playing online with us, you’re not obliged to shout if you win but there’s no harm in it! As the name might suggest, there’s an undertone of fun and entertainment when it comes to bingo and that never goes amiss here.
A Brief History of the Game
The origins of bingo date back to Italy in 1530. The Renaissance was in full swing and a lottery game known as Il Gioco del Lotto d'Italia was created, roughly translated as "the game of lotto in Italy". Not quite as catchy as the modern term, but more on that later. The game later moved to France where it became known as Le Lotto during the 17th century. It later found its way into Germany as an educational tool to teach children maths and spelling skills, combining it with another Italian game called tombola.
By the 20th century, an American man named Hugh J. Ward came across the game during a trip in Europe. He took the idea back to the US and promoted it in his carnivals. He gave it the name beano, as his version used dried beans for markers. The rules were the same as they are today and the winner would shout the word “BEANO!”. The game became very popular, as did the word “beano” which soon evolved and became "bingo" through various slips of the tongue during the 20s. Toy salesman Edwin S. Lowe seized an opportunity to turn the game into a product and soon, it spread across the whole nation and back over the Atlantic to the UK.
The game itself is virtually identical to the original Italian version in premise. As it has moved more recently towards online play, this has allowed for greater creativity in rules and different variants as you’ll see in this guide. The basic idea remains, however - cards with random sets of numbers are filled out until the first person completes their card.
Bingo Rules and Instructions
To play, all you need are bingo cards, markers or “daubers”, and a bankroll for the winnings to be collected and paid to the winner. You also need to be 18 or over as bingo is classed as gambling. There are different types but the main versions are 90-ball (British form) and 75-ball (American form), which we shall look at in more detail.
30-Ball Bingo is a multiplayer game where players attempt to be the first player to complete a winning pattern on a bingo card. Players can purchase cards up until the game start time. Patterns are then completed by matching the drawn bingo numbers with the numbers on the player’s bingo cards. The card that matches a winning pattern first will win the prize. If more than one ticket completes the winning pattern on the same call the prize will be shared.
Each 30-Ball bingo card consists of a grid with three rows and three columns and has 9 numbers marked on it, all between 1 and 30. 30- Ball bingo is a fast paced game. Games are played in a very short period of time and the tension and excitement mount very quickly as the action speeds up.
At the bingo game start time ticket sales end and no more cards are sold. Then the bingo draw will begin – one of the 30 bingo balls will be displayed at random. As the numbered balls are called, the corresponding numbers on your card are automatically marked off (or ‘daubed’). This happens automatically, so you will never miss a number or a win, even if you have logged out. The game application will auto-detect when you have completed a winning pattern and automatically make a claim for you.
Winning the Game and Prizes
Cards win when they match the number required to complete a pattern – a layout of card squares in a particular shape. In 30-Ball Bingo typical patterns are: “1-line”, “2-lines” and “bingo”:
- “1-line” when you mark off all numbers in any one of the horizontal lines on the card
- “2-lines”is the first to complete two horizontal lines
- “Bingo” or “Full House” when you mark off all 9 numbers on a card first
- Keep your eye out for some special games with other 30-Ball winning patterns
The first card to match the numbers to complete a winning pattern will win the associated prize. If more than one card matches the winning pattern at the same time, the prize will be distributed evenly to each winning card. Prizes are credited to your game balance by the end of the game and will be displayed in your bingo game logs.
This is the variant played predominantly in the US. As there are less balls than the British 90-ball variation, the game cards are slightly different and formatted so there is equal opportunity to win for all players. In 75-ball, cards are set in a 5x5 grid with the middle square marked FREE.
Each column is organised as follows:
- The first column can contain numbers 1-15
- The second column can contain numbers 16-30
- The third column can contain numbers 31-45
- The fourth column can contain numbers 46-60
- The fifth column can contain numbers 61-75
US bingo tickets are also unique in that they can potentially have duplicated numbers if multiple tickets are purchased. To win, you need to complete a pattern confirmed before the game starts rather than a line “full house”. Discover more detail on how to play 75 ball bingo with our guide.
Tickets and Strips
In the 80 Ball Bingo game, a ticket is an individual grid of 16 squares made up of 4 rows and 4 columns.
Each square contains a number so 16 numbers appear on each ticket.
Every possible number from 1 through to 80 will appear on each full strip.
The prizes/jackpots offered in each bingo game each have a minimum guaranteed jackpot but the actual prize is determined by the number of players/ticket purchased per game. The more players/tickets purchased, the bigger the game prizes!
There are 4 different game types play in 80 Ball Bingo with different prizes available.
Any Single Line - Has one prize available which is any line. The player who is the first to have all the numbers called in either a vertical, horizontal or diagonal line, or mark all four corners or four middle squares, will win.
Any Line, House - In this game type, two prizes are on offer. Firstly players will play for the any single line prize as explained above, secondly players will play for the full house where the first player to have all 16 numbers marked off one of their tickets will win.
Any Line, Columns, House - In this game type four prizes are on offer. The first prize is any single line as described above. The second prize is won by the first player to mark off all numbers on any 2 lines vertically (i.e. 2 columns); the third prize is won by the first player to mark off all numbers on any 3 lines vertically i.e. 3 columns. The final prize is won by the first player to mark off all 16 numbers on one of their tickets.
Full House or Pattern Game - The prize can be either coverall/full house, where the player must cover all numbers on the ticket. Or a specific pattern will be defined; in this case the player must complete the pattern defined.
This is the version all UK players should know. There are some differences here compared to its US companion other than the increase in numbers. One difference is that the cards are set out in 3x9 grids.
The cards are set out as follows:
The first column can contain numbers 1-9, the second column can contain numbers 10-19 and so on, totalling 9 columns.
Unlike 75-ball bingo, there are three different ways to win. You can either complete one row, two rows or all three (known as a “Full House”). Those who win with a Full House will win the designated jackpot. You also have the added bonus of theoretically buying a strip of six tickets containing all 90 numbers. Discover more on how to play 90 ball bingo with our in-depth guide.
How to Play
To play online bingo begin by purchasing your ticket(s), then wait for your game to start and off you go. There’ll often be a countdown letting you know when each game is due to begin in case you miss one, much like in an “offline” bingo hall.
Using your bingo card - a ticket bought before you start playing - you must mark numbers as they are called by a “caller” (or alternatively, there is an “autodaub” function to do this for you). You can usually purchase more than one ticket but there will be a limit.
Although not seen as a physical person online, the caller was a classic figure in the bingo hall, using some comical turns of phrase when announcing numbers such as:
11 = Legs Eleven
22 = Two Little Ducks
88 = Two Fat Ladies
90 = Top of the Shop
As the caller announces numbers at random, you “daub” the numbers on your card until you complete it. Discover more fun ‘bingo-lingo’ with our guide.
Payouts and Jackpots
While bingo halls come with their own jackpot prizes, online bingo offers a multitude of jackpots, including high value prizes. These come in the form of guaranteed jackpots and progressive jackpots.
Each one has their own advantages; guaranteed jackpot prizes mean precisely that. In most of these games, you can buy up to 96 tickets, allowing you to increase your chances. The guarantee is the advantage but the prizes aren’t nearly as big as the ones on progressive jackpot games.
With progressive jackpots, a portion of players’ ticket cost will be put in the overall jackpot prize. The more players who join, the larger the prize. Of course, this idea helps bring more players in; and a progressive jackpot can grow to hundreds of thousands if not millions of pounds.
Tips and Bingo Strategies
Bingo is a game built on the concept of randomness but there are still elements you can control to improve your chances. These tips and strategies vary between simple management of your account to mathematical theories (but you won’t need a degree to figure them out). Here are a few examples:
Set aside a “bingo budget”
It’s crucial to gamble responsibly online and that’s why a budget is so important. Set a limit on how much you’re willing to spend and don’t go over it.
Pick the right game
A similar tip to the “bingo budget”, simply select a game that suits you and your budget limit. This can really help, particularly if you’re new to playing. Games with lower ticket prices are best to start with, allowing for a minimised outlay.
There’s a lot of automation involved with online bingo, allowing you to have more fun and less stress, but concentration is still needed. Keep on top form by checking your spending and what your prizes are on a regular basis.
Know your odds
This isn’t a necessary strategy but if you’re serious about winning, it’s recommended. Knowing your chances of winning can sometimes put you off a game, but they can also allow for better decision making. Rather than work them out yourself, there are odds calculators available online. You can also improve your odds by purchasing multiple cards.
More Games, More Prizes
An advantage of online bingo is the ability to play multiple games at once. It stands to reason then that the more games you play, the bigger chance you have of winning. But be cautious, as losses could outweigh the potential win.
Granville and Tippet
You’ve read some tips and strategies of varying difficulty but the next few are for really serious players. They involve theories of probability but fortunately, their complexities have been made easy for the average player to comprehend.
Joseph E. Granville was a mathematician who devised a theory based on probability. He suggested the best chance of winning came from choosing cards with as many numbers having a different second digit. This was based on his experiments showing 60% of the first 10 numbers called out showing different last digits.
There’s also Tippet’s theory: the idea that the average of the numbers already called equals half the number of balls in play. For example, in the 75-ball game, the average would be 38 and should fall around this number. When looking at numbers on prospective cards, you can decide to discard tickets you’re not happy with, aiming for an average of 38 (in the case of 90-ball bingo, that number would be 45).
How to Play our Top Bingo Games
Now that you have a well-rounded idea of bingo’s origins and how to play, it’s time to get stuck in. There are plenty of games to choose from with varying prizes to be won. The question is: which will you choose? As well as your selection of games, there are also some in-depth guides on each variation - 75-ball, 90-ball, and the newer 52-5 game which involves a deck of playing cards.
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