Bingo is a lottery type of game that is popular all over the world. It is a game of chance where players don’t need to have any skills. Bingo is played with several players and visiting a bingo hall has become a social experience for many people over the past decades. Bingo halls advertise the times of games, people show up, buy tickets and wait for the exciting game to start in the hope of being the first person to call out “bingo!” Nowadays, you don’t necessarily have to visit bingo halls to enjoy the game, though, as it is offered by online casinos too. Keen players never have to wait longer than a few minutes for a game to start.
Bingo is a very simple game, in fact, one of the simplest of all casino games, but if you have never played it, you should read our overview of the game. We’ll explain the main rules, various bingo patterns, the different variants of the game and strategies that may help you win.
How to Play Bingo
Bingo is somewhat similar to lotto. In bingo games, numbers are written on balls and they are drawn one by one. Players have to match the drawn numbers to a set of numbers that are present on the bingo cards they bought. As the numbers are drawn, players have to daub their matching numbers and whoever gets all of them daubed first, wins the game. The game has several variants with a different number of balls, but most games share the principal rules.
Main characteristics of bingo games:
- Most bingo games feature 90, 80, 75 or 30 balls
- Bingo cards come with different amounts of numbers depending on the variant
- Bingo patterns can be anything from simple horizontal, vertical or diagonal lines to complicated patterns
- Payouts vary depending on how many bingo tickets were sold for the particular game
- Some bingo games feature a progressive jackpot
- Players can choose to buy one or more bingo cards for a game
Step-by-step Bingo Guide
- Select a game of bingo
- Buy ticket(s) for the game
- Wait for the game to start
- As numbers are announced, you’ll need to mark off the numbers on your tickets. In bingo halls, numbers are announced rather quickly so only buy several tickets if you can handle the task quickly enough. In online bingo, you can mark the numbers yourself or select auto-daub and the computer does the work for you
- Depending on which game you play, you can win with one line, two lines or a full-house
- When you win a prize, the money is added to your player account
- Select a new game and play again
The main bingo rules are the same, no matter whether you play in a bingo hall or online, but there can be slight variations that you should be aware of before you buy your tickets. The two most popular versions of bingo are 90-ball bingo (popular in the UK and Ireland) and 75-ball bingo (popular in the United States and Canada).
90 Ball Bingo
90-ball bingo is played with 90 balls. These games last the longest as it can take a while to call out enough numbers so that a winner can be established. The bingo card is a grid of 27 squares made up of 3 horizontal lines and 9 columns. Out of the 27 squares, 15 numbers are marked and, typically, players buy 6 cards per round. There are three possible ways to win in 90-ball bingo; you can mark off one line, two lines and a full house. The more winning lines you have, the higher the prizes.
80 Ball Bingo
80-ball bingo logically has 80 balls in play. The grid is a colourful square (4×4) that contains 16 numbers arranged in columns. First, the colour is called out and then the number which makes daubing the numbers off simpler for players. Again, you can win with one, two or three lines or with a full house. In bingo halls, the numbers on your ticket have shutters that can be closed manually, while online daubing is done for you by the computer.
75 Ball Bingo
75-ball bingo uses 75 balls and the tickets are 5×5 grids that have 24 numbers on them. The centre square is empty and it often displays a heart or a star. Every game has pre-determined winning patterns and you should be aware of them as they can be different in each bingo hall or online casino. It could be anything such as different lines, shapes of animals, letters or numbers.
30 Ball Bingo
30-ball bingo uses only 30 balls and this makes this version very rapid; a single game only lasts a few minutes. The 3×3 grid has 9 numbers which are very quick to overview and mark off. However, in online games, the computer does the job for you. There is a winning pattern you should check out before the game starts. The first person who completes the pattern wins the game.
As we mentioned before, bingo patterns can resemble anything. Some are as simple as a horizontal line that doesn’t require explanation, but there are other typical ones that you will come across often. You don’t need to remember them all as you’ll always be able to check them before the game starts. Also, in online bingo, the computer marks them for you and in case you win, it will also call bingo for you. These are the most common patterns:
As the name suggests, it is the four corners of your ticket that need to be marked off. This game can take a while because only four numbers need to match the drawn numbers.
This pattern looks like a clock face with the hour hand in between 4 and 5 o’clock. This pattern is typical in chat bingo rooms. Players who complete the winning pattern may win additional prizes in the chat room.
This shape resembles a bell and as you can imagine, it is particularly popular around Christmas time. Nevertheless, you might come across games with the bell pattern any time of the year. The pattern consists of 14 numbers and games with this pattern are often progressive jackpot games.
This pattern depicts a wine glass and players need to mark off 11 numbers to get this pattern.
The Windmill pattern has 17 numbers and it looks like a windmill from above. This pattern is common in 75-ball bingo. Due to the large number of squares that need to be marked off, this game can take a while to complete.
This pattern is made up of 13 numbers that resemble a witch’s hat. It is particularly popular around Halloween, as you may have guessed. This pattern is also very common in chat bingo, where you can win additional prizes if you announce the winning pattern through the chat room.
Bingo Odds and House Edge
Bingo, just like lotto, is extremely popular all around the world for a simple reason: players have a chance to win a huge amount of money with a small wager (e.g. $1). However, the chances of winning are so much smaller than in blackjack, baccarat or even roulette. Most people will lose, and very few will win.
The house edge in bingo is high, around 10%, but again, this is typical with lottery types of games. The house edge raises even higher if you take side bets so we advise against them.
There are no skills required in bingo and everything is in the hands of lady luck. The only decisions you can make are which bingo game to participate in and how many tickets to buy.
The more players are participating the smaller your chances but the larger the payouts. It is advisable to participate in jackpot games as you can win larger sums here, but generally, tickets for jackpot games are more expensive.
Bingo is a game of chance, but it is also a numbers game. Many people believe in the law of big numbers and want to base their ticket-buying decisions on statistics. While you cannot hand-pick your bingo numbers the way you would your lotto numbers, you will be able to select a bingo ticket that appeals to you. There are advanced number-picking strategies that can be applied to bingo. The most popular one of those are:
Granville’s strategy system
This strategy was based on 75-ball bingo and the method is about picking your numbers right. According to Granville’s theory, every number has an equal chance to be drawn so the system dictates that you should choose numbers that are as different from one another as possible. If you are using this theory you will pick:
- An equal amount of high and low numbers
- An equal spread of odd and even numbers
- Numbers ending in various last digits
According to Granville, if the number 19 was drawn, it is unlikely that the next number will end in 9, so players should stay away from bingo cards that have numbers like 29 and 39 and 49 and 59. The same theory applies to even and odd numbers. When an even number is drawn, statistically, the next number is likely to be an odd number and the next one is more likely to be even again. So players should have an equal amount of even and odd numbers on their cards.
The problem with this strategy is that it only applies over a very long period of time – e.g. thousands of draws. Some would argue, that future results don’t depend on previous results. Ultimately, what you believe is your decision.
Tippet strategy system
The Tippet theory is also based on 75-ball bingo, but it can also be applied to the 90-ball version. Tippet was a British statistician who came up with a simple idea of picking numbers that are closest to a median. He believed that the longer the bingo game lasts, the closer the average of the numbers will be to the median. The median is the average value of the numbers which corresponds to 38 in 75-ball bingo and 45 in 90-ball bingo. This theory cannot be applied to short bingo games.
- It cannot be used in 30-balls bingo or when players need to mark only one-line patterns. If you want to apply it to short games, choose tickets that have more high and low numbers.
- It is best used with the aim of completing complex patterns in 75 or 90-balls bingo games. Choose tickets that have many numbers around the median figure. E.g. in 75-ball bingo, you should have many numbers between 30 and 45 and in 90-ball bingo you should aim at having several numbers between 35 and 55.
This theory is based on statistics and it works out best in the long run.
Even though bingo results depend on luck, there are certain things you can do to improve your odds.
Play when fewer people are playing
The fewer people play, the smaller the payout but the higher your odds. If 100 people play in a game and everybody buys one card, statistically, your chances of winning are only 1%. On the other hand, if there are only 10 players, you have a 10% chance of winning.
Go for auto-daub
If you are not sure of how quickly you can mark off the numbers you should always select auto-daub. You don’t want to hold a winning ticket and lose the chance of calling out bingo because you missed some of the numbers.
Try low-value bingo cards
You will still have a chance of winning and it won’t hurt your bankroll. Generally, tickets that are associated with a progressive jackpot, are the priciest ones.
Play with multiple bingo cards
The more bingo cards you hold, the more chances you have to win. However, keep in mind that other people may buy several cards too.