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How To Play The Game BINGO

Updated on May 29, 2012
Markers used to mark spaces on Bingo cards
Markers used to mark spaces on Bingo cards | Source

When most of us think of Bingo, we probably get images of a roomful of retires having a grand time but the game can be enjoyed by all ages anywhere. Formerly known as 'Beano', the game was renamed 'Bingo' in 1929 by Edwin S. Lowe. In this game of chance, the player wins when a desired pattern is formed on their bingo card. There are a number of patterns that could result in a win.

A Bingo game consists of cards, calling cards or balls, and markers. The Bingo cards are divided into five columns and six rows. The letters B-I-N-G-O appear at the top row, each letter heading a column. The card consists of one or more free spaces that are considered to be marked. This marked space appears in the center square of the card. The other twenty-four spaces on the grid are filled with numbers varying from one to seventy-five.

A caller or host randomly chooses a calling card or ball telling the player what number-letter combination should be marked on their card. For example, a Bingo calling card may read G27. This means the player must mark the number 27 in the G column if it is on their card.

The player must continue marking the appropriate numbers on their card until the winning pattern is created. This pattern can be a straight line running vertically, horizontally, or diagonally across the card. The pattern can also cover the entire card or form various shapes and letters. In some games of Bingo, patterns that form a U, X, or Z are considered a winning pattern. A card with all numbers along the sides of the card covered (forming a square) may be considered a winning card. The pattern that will be a winning pattern is decided before the game begins.

The cards can be marked using chips or a bingo dauber (bingo marker). When a player has marked enough spaces on the grid to form a pattern, they must yell "Bingo" to notify the caller and other players of their win. Only the first player to yell Bingo will win.

Bingo cards.
Bingo cards. | Source

Bingo Jargon / Language

Like most games, there are a number of words and phrases that are unique in meaning to the game. Here are a few:

Blackout (coverall): This is a pattern where all spaces on the grid are to be covered.

Four Corners: In order to win you must mark the numbers at the four corners of the card.

Hard Way Bingo: A winning pattern that is in a straight line but does not include the use of the free space.

On: If one or more of the player's cars need only one more mark for a win, the player is on, closed, or set.

Quickie: The numbers are called as quickly as possible. The card must be completely covered to win.

Texas Blackout: This is a variation of Bingo. If the first number that is called is an odd number, all odd numbers on the grid are covered. The same is done if the first number is even. The game then continues until all the spaces are covered.

Crying Numbers: These numbers are called after the game is officially closed. The primary purpose is to let the players who did not win know what numbers would have been drawn. If it were what they needed to win, they would be crying.

Variations To The Game

While the typical Bingo card consists of numbers, there are endless possibilities to the variations that can be made. Solutions to math problems or words from any topic can be substituted for the numbers. This is great for clubs who want to have Bingo games personalized to fit their specific group. For example, a science club could use science related words on their cards. It is also great for teaching children new languages and math. The teacher can call a math problem and the students, after solving it, can mark the answer on their cards.

Fathers' Day Bingo Cards
Fathers' Day Bingo Cards | Source

If you wish to personalize the topics on your cards, you can use a Bingo card creator instead of drawing or writing all the grids by hand. There are online bingo card creators where you can customize the words on your cards according to the subject, topics, activities, and more.


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