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Mastering Bingo Rules To Become the Best Bingo Player

by Sonja • July 20, 2021
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Bingo rules are simple but not universal. Every game has its variants, and bingo is no exception. Depending on where you live and whether you’re playing at a bingo hall or online, on a mobile casino app, the rules of the game vary. It can be the number of bingo balls that can be drawn, the way bingo cards are being sold and their design, but also the exact pattern you’re after on your card. Even the famous “Bingo!” shout changes depending on the part of the world the game’s played in.

Bingo is the only game of chance where the players themselves announce they’re the winner. Therefore, knowing the rules of bingo is imperative if you plan to attend a bingo night at your local club.

Not sure where to start with the rules? Just follow our handy guide, and you’ll become a bingo pro in no time.

The Goal of the Game

To win at bingo, you just need to get a full house before anyone else. Sounds straightforward enough, but how exactly do you do that? First of all, you need to purchase one or more bingo cards. Then, as the numbers are announced, you cross them off on your card(s) and continue to do so until you’ve completed a pattern that wins you a prize.

European Bingo Rules

European bingo or 90-ball bingo is the most well-known format of the game, especially popular in the UK. Each ticket has 15 numbers on it, sorted into three rows and nine columns. In each row, there are five numbers and four blank spaces. Each column contains only numbers from a certain range: the first only numbers from 1 to 9, the second – from 10 to 19, and so on.

The caller calls out numbers, you mark them on your ticket(s), constantly checking whether you’ve got a full house – all 15 numbers crossed off – on any of them. Sometimes, there might also be prizes for one line (all five numbers in one row) or two lines (all 10 numbers in any two rows on the same ticket).

American Bingo Rules

On the other side of the pond, you’re still trying to cross off the numbers on your bingo ticket (more commonly called “bingo card”), but instead of yelling “House!” you shout “Bingo!”

That’s not the only difference, though. In American bingo, there are 75 balls in play. The cards also differ from the UK ones. The numbers are inserted in a 5×5 grid, with the central space considered as “free space” and counting as always marked. Each column is marked with a letter B-I-N-G-O, and the caller will call out both the number and the letter, for example, B18.

Aside from cards, the bingo rules for 75-ball bingo are also slightly different: Players don’t have to cross off all the numbers on their cards. Instead, they only need one full line to win. It can be horizontal or vertical, and sometimes, even the diagonals are allowed. Of course, each bingo venue has its own house rules and requires players to get specific patterns on their cards. These can be pretty much any shape imaginable – numbers, letters, filling out just the corners, and more.

Other Bingo Variants

Now that you know how to play bingo, that is, its two main variants, let’s get extravagant. Bingo has many more variations, some of them exclusive to new bingo sites.

One of the most popular is 80-ball bingo, a variant specifically designed for online play. It’s a variation of American bingo played on a 4×4 grid instead of 5×5. There are no free spaces here and columns are highlighted in four colours: red, yellow, blue, and white, in that order from left to right. The official bingo rules for this game require players to mark every spot on their card, which is also called blackout. Naturally, some variants quickly popped up, so you might be required to fill out a row, a column, corners, or get a specific pattern. Even though this is more of an American-style game, you’ll find it on top UK bingo sites, too.

Another variant is 30-ball bingo, also known as speed bingo. This bingo game is so fast that experienced players will play it between their regular games to kill some time. It also has the simplest bingo rules. You just need to cover every space on your 3×3 card. Those are all the rules, really. Nothing fancy like hunting for diagonals or some esoteric patterns, just a plain old blackout. Sometimes, simple is better, and 30-ball proves it.

Bingo Jackpots Explained

We’ve been going on and on about patterns, bingo balls, variants, and whatnot, but we haven’t addressed one very important thing. The thing that we all crave when playing bingo. It’s time to talk about jackpots.

Even though bingo rules in the UK and the US differ, the way jackpots work is the same. In bingo, a jackpot is an additional prize the players win if they get a full house before a certain number of balls are drawn. There are two jackpot flavours – progressive and preset – which differ on the way they’re handed out and how their value is calculated.

The value of progressive jackpots, as the name implies, increases with every ticket sold. They start at a certain value determined by the game organiser, pass over from game to game, and reset to the initial value when a player wins the jackpot. The bingo game rules of the place you’re playing at will detail other requirements for winning, such as the number of calls the jackpot is available for.

As for the preset jackpots, they’re interesting in the way they work. First of all, they’re not affected by the number of players or whether a jackpot has been won recently. The organiser sets the jackpot amount, but also several smaller jackpots in case the players don’t manage to score the main one. These are usually spread out over succeeding calls, although bingo house rules can differ from site to site.

Here’s an example: You’ll get the main £10,000 jackpot if you call bingo after 45 numbers or less. Then, the jackpot drops to £7,000 on number 46, then to £5,000 on number 47, and so on. Best of all, you don’t even need to sit at your computer to win this jackpot. If you’ve already purchased some tickets, the site will automatically notify you of your win.

When you win a jackpot, its value is added on top of the regular bingo prize, no matter the type of jackpot.

Are Online Bingo Rules Different?

Many believe bingo loses its charm if played online, while bingo fans who like playing online via casino apps prefer the convenience of having the computer fill out the bingo cards for them.

Whatever your choice, one thing is certain – the rules of the game are the same. It really doesn’t matter if you’re playing a classic 90-ball game at a local club or your favourite bingo site; the game doesn’t change. The only thing different is that the digital version may automatically call out bingo for you.

FAQ

What are the rules to play bingo?
The bingo rules of play are quite simple, hence why the game is so popular. A person or a computer calls out numbers, you cover the numbers on your ticket(s) and, in case you fill out a required pattern, shout “Bingo!” and take your winnings. Of course, there are some variations of the game, but the main loop stays the same.

How do you win at bingo?
To win a round of bingo, you need to have covered numbers on your card in a certain pattern. In the UK, bingo rules require you to fill out the whole card, which is called full house, while in the US, you just need to get one five-number line to win.

How do bingo cards work?
Players purchase bingo cards or tickets either individually or in serialised six-card strips, covering all 90 numbers. Each card has a different combination of numbers printed on it. When the game starts, the caller will draw numbers and players need to mark these on their cards. If at any time, a player has managed to mark all of the numbers on their card, they shout “Bingo!” and collect the prize.

What do you shout in bingo?
According to informal bingo rules, you shout “Bingo!” to indicate you have the winning combination on one of your cards. If you’re playing at a UK bingo hall, you can also shout “House!” or “Yes!”