Bingo is a probability game that enjoys a unceasing popularity worldwide, with millions of people visiting their local bingo halls or playing it at their favourite online bingo rooms. Another thing that contributes to the game’s allure is its social aspect. For many players, bingo is not only a way to win a nice monetary prize – it also allows them to socialize, meet new people, have fun, and feel at ease in a close-knit player community. Last but not least, bingo has simple rules allowing people from all walks of life to have a go at it.
Despite the fact this is a pretty straightforward game, it is always a good idea to have a bit of a background before you purchase your first bingo ticket. BingoPlay.co.uk is your ticket to mastering bingo and learning how to win at this exciting game of probability. The articles we publish are comprehensible enough to suit all levels of experience. If you are new to bingo, BingoPlay.co.uk can help you learn the basics of the game. We also present seasoned players with various tips enabling them to improve their chances of winning more at bingo.
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Overview of Bingo Origins
Bingo is one of the few gambling games not to originate from France. The earliest records of people playing it can be traced back to 16th-century Italy where on Sundays, people would play a game called Lo Giuoco del Lotto D’Italia. This was a form of lottery whose rules required players to choose series of numbers after which, another set of numbers were selected at random from a raffle drum. The person with the highest number of hits won a monetary prize.
As bingo’s popularity grew, it gradually spread to other European countries like Germany and France. In the late 18th century members of the French aristocracy played what became known as Le Lotto which borrowed aspects of the Italian Lo Giuoco del Lotto but used game tickets. Each ticket consisted of nine columns and three horizontal rows. There was again a drum containing wooden disks with numbers 1 through 90. The first player to succeed in covering one of the rows of their game ticket with selected numbers was pronounced the winner.
The late 19th century saw the game shaping into what was to become the contemporary form of bingo. This time it was Germany to introduce new aspects to the game. Academics from the country came up with the idea to use a lottery-style game to help children improve on different subjects, including multiplication, history, and spelling. A raffle drum was again used for the draw and all participants were given game tickets, but the difference here was they contained both numbers and letters. The purpose of each player was to become the first to hit a given amount of numbers or spell out a word.
Bingo continued to evolve well into the 20th century, whose beginning saw the game making it to the United States. It caught the attention of a man called Hugh J. Ward while he was on a trip to Europe, so he decided to introduce a variation which played similarly to Le Lotto and offer it at carnivals in the States. The players would use dry beans to mark the called numbers on their cards, so the game was initially called beano but this was later corrupted into bingo due to frequent mispronunciation.
It was at a carnival that bingo first got spotted by American salesman Edwin S. Lowe who introduced it to the mass public in 1929, in collaboration with mathematics professor Carl Leffler. The two released on the market cards with 6,000 possible combinations all of which had equal chances of winning.
The game was officially standardised by Lowe in 1933 when he released a book with its official rules. It became such a wild success that charity organizations and churches saw its potential and started using bingo tickets to raise funds. Bingo also enjoyed a similar success on the other side of the ocean where more than a million UK players participated in the game on a monthly basis in the 1960s. The game’s popularity rates dropped in the decades to follow but it experienced a revival at the turn of the 21st century when it became a staple at hundreds of online casinos.
Gameplay and Basic Rules in Bingo
Bingo may have evolved into what it is today over the course of several centuries but its basic rules remain as straightforward as they were in the beginning. This is a game of chance where numbers are drawn at random and the objective of the players is to match the selected numbers to those printed on their tickets. In order for a player to win, the selected numbers must form a specific pattern on the ticket. This pattern varies between bingo rooms and is determined by the caller in North American variations of the game.
When somebody succeeds in forming a pattern, they would announce “Bingo” to attract the attention of the caller, who is the person presiding over the game. It should be specified that the tickets may differ depending on whether you are playing the British or the North American variation of the game – we explain the differences between these two in the next section.
Many people would prefer to play online because they find it more convenient. The gameplay starts with the player choosing a bingo room and purchasing a specific number of tickets. It is possible for the player to purchase tickets in groups. Keep in mind, though, that all bingo games would normally have a maximum number of tickets a single player can buy.
Depending on the software your bingo room uses, you may be able to benefit from an auto-purchase feature which buys you available tickets for upcoming games. To use it, you simply need to tackle the settings to adjust the number of automatically purchased tickets, the ticket prize, and the number of rounds you wish to play. Once the game starts, you check each called number to see if you have it on your ticket. If yes, you can mark it yourself or use the auto-daub feature where the software will mark all the winning numbers for you.
The payouts winners receive are determined on the basis of the pattern they win with along with their bet amount and multiplier. The multiplier depends on how many numbers have been drawn before your winning pattern was formed.
Differences between UK and North American Bingo
There are pronounced differences in the way bingo is played in the United Kingdom and North America. The differences largely have to do with the number of all balls (numbers) in play and the way the tickets are designed.
The bingo cards you will find in the USA and Canada are basically 5×5 grids with 24 random numbers. The word B-I-N-G-O is written at the very top of the card so that each letter corresponds to a column of numbers, which also makes finding the called numbers easier. The only grid that does not contain a number is positioned in the very centre of the ticket. This version of bingo normally plays with 75 balls. In order to win, your matching numbers need to create the patterns defined by the caller at the start of the game.
The version of bingo favoured by Brits, and Europeans in general, differs in that it is usually played with 90 balls, but the tickets are also quite different. Instead of using a 5×5 grid, the tickets consist of 3 rows with 9 columns each for a total of 27 squares. Each of the rows contains 5 random numbers, which basically means there are only 15 numbers printed on each ticket.
Also, each of the nine columns must contain numbers within a specific range. Respectively, the first column can contain number 1 through 9, the second – numbers 10 through 19, and so on and so forth until we get to the last column containing numbers 80 through 90. In order for the game to be fair, each ticket is divided into six strips and each strip contains a 3×9 grid with random numbers. This makes it possible for all numbers from 1 to 90 to be called across all six strips.
Understanding Probabilities and Odds in Bingo
Similarly to many other gambling games, the outcomes when playing bingo are determined only by chance. However, there are several ways for players to improve their winning odds. Those who play the game online have the chance to calculate their odds of winning by using the overall number of purchased cards for the game as a guideline as this is displayed by the software. Your chances of winning increase proportionately to the number of tickets you purchase. What this means is if you have bought 15 tickets for a game where the overall number of tickets is 1,500, your chances of winning will be equal to 1 in 100.
The number of tickets purchased by other players is also taken into consideration. For example, if you have purchased one card and there are twenty other players participating in the game with one card each, the chances of you winning would be 1 in 20.
As was explained previously, bingo players must form their winning patterns within a designated number of calls. The number of calls depends on the number of balls in play. The more the bingo game progresses, the more your odds of forming a pattern increase because fewer numbers remain to be called. Therefore, you are more likely to form a pattern on the 50th call than you are on the 10th call. The complexity of achieving a given pattern also has an impact on your odds of winning. The more complex bingo patterns give you poorer odds.
The number of participating players also bears consideration when you evaluate your odds of winning. When more players participate in a given game, this means a higher number of tickets has been purchased and respectively you, too, will have to buy more tickets to improve your odds. Because of this, many bingo mavens would prefer games with fewer players. However, a higher number of players also means a bigger jackpot that is to be won because more people would invest in ticket purchases.
Bingo Renaissance – the Game Goes Online
Interactive gambling has grown into a huge industry in the past couple of decades and this helped increase the waning popularity of bingo. Recent surveys show us that a staggering 74% of bingo fans indeed prefer to play their favourite game online. This has lead to a massive boost in revenue which reached 640 million in the year 2013 alone.
The revival of the game’s popularity is closely linked to the numerous benefits online bingo has to offer. Unseasoned players would often struggle to keep up with the speed at which the caller announces the numbers in brick-and-mortar bingo halls, even more so if they have purchased multiple tickets. This hardly leaves a room for interaction with fellow players. However, speed is not a problem when one plays the game online where the called numbers can be marked automatically with the auto-daub feature even when one is playing numerous tickets.
This enables online bingo players to interact with each other in the chat feature. The winning numbers are picked by the Random Number Generator software which means there are no human callers to announce the results. However, the chat feature has moderators who can address players and congratulate them on their wins. You can easily distinguish moderators from fellow players since their comments appear in different colour.
Often the other job of the moderators would be to run chat games alongside the regular bingo games, allowing participants to pocket extra prizes. The bingo rooms on the web would also offer a range of mini games you can play between or during the bingo games. These mini games are usually other games of chance like slots, keno or scratchcards but sometimes classic casino games like roulette or blackjack are also available.
Bingo on Mobile Devices
On top of that, bingo mavens have the opportunity to play the game on the go by visiting the website of their preferred bingo operator in the browsers of their smartphones or tablets. This way you can access the bingo room via any device you choose, so it does not matter whether you own an Android, an iOS, or a Windows-based smartphone.
Some of the biggest bingo operators would also design dedicated applications for iOS and Android smartphones and tablets, which you can download and install at no cost from their websites.
Popular Bingo Varieties
We already broached the topic of different bingo variations you can find online or at landbased bingo rooms but we would like to further elaborate on the matter in the sections below.
The 75-ball variant of bingo prevails in countries in North America. It utilizes a ticket which contains a 5×5 grid, with the letters B-I-N-G-O written above the five columns. In column B, you will have five random numbers from 1 to 15. Column I also has five random numbers, from 16 to 30. Column N has four numbers only, from 31 to 45, because of the blank space in the middle. Columns G and O have five numbers each, ranging from 46 to 60 and 61 to 75, respectively. The blank space in the centre of column N can be used to complete a winning pattern.
In order to win, you need to complete a pattern that is determined usually by the caller before the game starts. The biggest appeal of 75-ball bingo is the amazing diversity of patterns it can use, with more than 300 options available. The most common of these, however, are the blackout, the X pattern, and the Double Line. The Blackout corresponds to the Full House in 90-ball bingo which means you need all numbers on your ticket to hit. The Double Line requires you to complete two vertical, two diagonal or two horizontal lines of numbers. The X is pretty much self-explanatory since the pattern is simply shaped like this letter.
The version of bingo played with 80 balls is not as popular as the other two varieties but has still carved itself a niche among some fans of the game. The game is the perfect alternative for players who are dissatisfied with the slow pace of 90-ball bingo but have grown tired of playing the version with 75 balls.
The tickets in 80-ball bingo have grids with four columns and four rows for a total of 16 boxes with numbers. The columns are also of different colours, usually red, yellow, blue, and white. At the beginning of the game, the callers would again determine the winning patterns. Some of the most popular ones in 80-ball bingo include Four Corners and Full House along with the Horizontal, Vertical, and Diagonal patterns.
As we explained earlier, 90-ball bingo is more common in the UK and Continental Europe where the tickets consist of 3×9 grids for three rows with nine columns. Each row contains only 5 numbers and four empty grids.
The biggest difference here lies in how the prizes are awarded. There are three prizes players could possibly win in a bingo game played with 90 balls, namely 1-Line, 2-Line, and a Full House. To receive the 1-Line prize, you need to have all five numbers on a row called out. Respectively, the 2-Line prize is awarded to those who have two rows of numbers called. The full house pattern is more difficult to form because it requires you to have all 15 numbers on your ticket called.
The Most Common Patterns in Bingo
There are hundreds of patterns bingo players can form to receive monetary prizes. Some of these are easier to form, others are more complex which further contributes to the excitement of hitting them. Here you can find succinct explanations of some of the most common patterns in bingo.
- 1-Line – one of the simplest patterns to form in bingo, which pays out as long as the called numbers have formed a diagonal, vertical or horizontal line on your ticket.
- 2-Line – this one consists of two lines of called numbers that run diagonally, horizontally or vertically on the ticket. In 90-ball bingo, the 2-Line consists of two rows where all numbers have been called.
- Four Corners – another simple pattern that consists of called numbers in the four outside corners of your ticket’s grid.
- Any Four – this is not a pattern in the true sense of the word since it simply consists of the first four numbers to get called on your ticket.
- Full House/Blackout – one of the most difficult patterns to achieve because it requires you to have all numbers on your ticket called to fill all numbered boxes in the grid. It gives the highest prize.
- 711 – this is one of the rarest patterns to complete on a bingo ticket and its name is pretty much self-explanatory. The called numbers from your ticket must form the shape of number 711. In other words, you need the first box of the first column along with the entire second, forth and fifth columns to be filled with winning numbers.
- Big X – a very popular pattern consisting of two full diagonal lines of called numbers to look like the shape of the letter X.
Top, Middle, and Bottom – this one is only possible in 75-ball bingo where you basically need to fill the entire first, third, and fifth rows of your ticket with drawn numbers.
- Outside Edge – this one is possible in 75-ball and 80-ball games only. To win with this one, you must fill the entire top and bottom rows in the ticket along with the leftmost and rightmost columns. Should two or more players call bingo in the same game on the same number with this pattern, they share the prize among themselves.
- Letter Patterns – this is a larger category of bingo patterns that require you to form patterns shaped like letters in order to win. Some of the most common letter patterns include W, H, L, T, I, U, and X.
- One to Go – this one is available in bingo games with bigger jackpots. When somebody declares they have a Full House, all the players who are a single number away from completing their full house patterns are given a consolation prize.
Can Strategy Help You Win in Bingo?
Since bingo is a game based on chance, there is no sure-proof way for you to predict if your numbers will be drawn. However, there are various ways for you to boost your winning chances. We have listed some of the common ways for this to happen below:
- Buy more tickets to improve your odds of winning
- Use the number of the overall purchased tickets and the number of fellow players in a given game to calculate your odds
- If you are not playing a progressive-jackpot bingo, it would be better for you to play at quieter hours in rooms with fewer players
- If you prefer bingo games with a progressive jackpot, go for rooms with an average number of players so that there are enough people to purchase tickets and fuel the pots but not too many to significantly reduce your winning odds
- Spreading your bets over a higher number of games also increases your chances of pocketing a prize
Popular Bingo Terms Dictionary
Keeping up with bingo lingo is a cumbersome task when one is new to the game. Often it may happen so that you struggle with figuring out what fellow bingo players are talking about in the chat feature which takes away from your enjoyment and makes you feel inadequate. To help you out, we at BingoPlay.co.uk have compiled a short dictionary with some of the most popular terms in bingo jargon you will come across.
- Admission Packet – The minimum number of tickets a player is required to purchase to be allowed to join a game
- Blower – A device with forced air used to mix and release the bingo balls so that the caller can announce the numbers that hit
- Chicken Legs – Bingo jargon for a winning pattern that is shaped like the number 11 whose form some would liken to the legs of a chicken
- Daubers – The items bingo players would use to mark the called numbers on their tickets
- Moonlight Bingo – Bingo sessions that start at a later hour and continue well into the night
- Never Been Kissed – A bingo pattern that resembles the number 16 in shape
- Quicki – A bingo game played at a very dynamic pace so that it ends quickly
- Top of the House – Another bingo pattern that looks like the number 24
- Two Little Ducks – A bingo pattern shaped like the number 22 which in itself bears a semblance to the profiles of two birds swimming one behind the other
- Wrap Up – The game a bingo session ends with