What Is Bingo?
Bingo is a game that is played with large groups of people. The number of people that can play a session of bingo is almost limitless. In Las Vegas, there are large bingo parlors that seat hundreds of people.
Each player plays against every other player, rather than “the house.” The house only provides the game and maintains the integrity of the play. The house also verifies the wins and awards the prizes to the winners.
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Bingo, as America knows it, was invented in 1929. Since then, the rules have evolved slightly. Each state, however, has developed laws that can vary the regulations of the game. Often these laws are more about prizes and integrity, while the rules of play stay quite standard. For instance, the rule that “Bingo” must be announced by a player who believes he has won is almost universal.
How Does Bingo Work?
Each player has a bingo ‘card’ that is a matrix of five squares by five squares. Across the top are the letters “B,” “I,” “N,” “G,” and “O.” Each of the twenty-five squares are filled with a number.
The Bingo Caller usually sits in the front. Above him is a big board (often a light board) that notates the numbers that have already been called. The caller also has a basket or tumbler that randomizes the balls. Each ball is marked with a number.
Bingo games generally have 75 balls in play. Each letter in “Bingo” corresponds to certain numbers. “B” represents the numbers 1-15. “I” corresponds with 16-30. The letter “N” owns 31-45. “G” takes the numbers 46-60, and finally, “O” finishes the sequence with 61-75.
The caller will grab a ball and call the letter and the number on the ball. For instance: “I-21.” He will usually call that out a couple of times. As he does, the players that have that spot on their cards will mark it.
Often, the bingo cards are made of paper and the players mark the spots with fluorescent “markers” called daubers. This notates the spot without covering the number from view. After giving a few seconds, the caller will repeat this procedure with the next ball that he draws from the tumbler.
This continues until someone manages to fill their card in the pattern that was designated at the beginning of the game. When that happens, that player calls out “BINGO.” At that point, a runner or the player takes the game card to be verified. Either the caller or someone else, acting as a judge, verifies that the bingo has been reached. If so, the player wins the prize that was also designated at the beginning of the game.
Bingo is usually played in sessions with several games played over the course of two to three hours. The games often progress from simple patterns at the beginning. The evening usually culminates with the final game of the session being a “black out” game which needs every spot marked. The prizes will usually correspond in value to the progression of the complexity of the patterns.