Bingo is played in “halls”. The rules, payouts and variations of play may vary from one hall to another. Documents of some type (pamphlets, hall rules, brochures, etc) detailing what games, rules and payouts are available at each respective location can usually be found and obtained by request.
Bingo players buy cards with numbers on them in a 5 x 5 pattern that corresponds to the five letters in the word B-I-N-G-O. Numbers are then drawn by the caller, such as I-19 or 0-65. These are drawn at random. In American Bingo there are a possible 75, and 90 possible in European Bingo called Tombola. This process is repeated until one player has a ”Bingo”, which is a line on the card with five numbers in a vertical, horizontal or diagonal row.Bingo wins the prize.
A bingo card has 24 spaces with numbers and one free space which is blank. The numbers are printed randomly on each card, arranged in five columns of five numbers each, making it a 5 x 5, equaling 25 spaces total including the blank square.
All numbers in the “B” column are between 1 and 15. All those in the “I” column are between 16 and 30; “N” column (four numbers and one free space) has between 31 and 45; the “G” column holds numbers between 46 and 60, and finally in the “O” column you find numbers that are between 61 and 75.
Players may choose from thousands of unique cards, insuring that no one else in the hall will be playing off the same set of numbers.
The numbers are announced, usually rather quickly by the caller, so you must pay careful attention to which numbers are called and then mark them quickly and accurately on your card(s). You can play more than one at a time!
The caller will continue calling numbers until one or more players calls out “BINGO!” At that point, that particular game stops, and all the covered numbers are verified by the caller. If indeed that person has won, then the prize is awarded and a new bingo game begins, using all new cards. If there is more than one winner, calling out a simultaneous “bingo”, the prize will be split among all the winners.
There are bingo games requiring download of software or players and those that don’t. There are one game sites and multi-game sites. One should know which he/she is entering before play begins.
For purposes of speaking form experience, I entered a free, multi-game site and began my play. Here’s my journey, related almost in real time.
First of all, be prepared, even if you are going to play free bingo, to create an account and have to log in each time you want to play. And there may still be some king of point system or tallying method for how well you’ve done.
After creating this account, you can come and go in the bingo halls for that site as often or as little as you desire.
I entered for the first time and decided to start with Classic Five in a Row. The particular card theme I chose was “Independence”. I played my first game in which I was keeping track of four cards. It was relatively simple and just about like playing in a hall, except for the caller yelling out numbers or having to look back and forth between the board and the cards.
Outside the annoying ads, and the occasional pop up, trying to get me to play for money, it was a pleasant experience.
Overall, as far as gambling goes, online bingo is fairly benign and can be lots of fun!