Bingo General Information

What is Bingo?

Bingo is not just a game for old people to play in their retirement homes, it can also be a lot of fun for the average player. The common form of bingo with which most players are familiar is a played on a 5×5 game-card. The numbers on this card can be either given randomly or selected, based on the game. The host of the game, or alternatively the computer if it is an online game, then calls out numbers. If a number called out is the same as a number on the player's card they mark it off. If a player manages to line up a row of these numbers they win. Easy as that, and more fun that you might think.

The common cards used are made from simple card or paper, and are designed to be easily thrown away after use. On the 5×5 card the centre square is generally given away as a free space.

Examples of standard bingo cards

Examples of standard bingo cards

Important Information

The game is not necessarily over once bingo is called, instead the game will keep running until one of the players is able to reach a filled card. Playing with multiple cards is also common, with many players using upwards of 30 cards at a time. The player needs a sharp eye for this type of play, which is obviously much easier when performed on an electronic system.

This is a game which is very much focused around community, which is one of the reasons it has stayed so popular.

The largest recorded win came in 2008 when a Scottish woman won an enormous £1.2 million. We have to wonder how loudly she yelled out bingo.

Common Terminology

A player who need only one number before they can win has a number of possible terms applied to them.

These include:

  • Ready
  • Waiting
  • Chance
  • Down
  • Set
  • Cased

Breaking the bubble is the term given to the minimum number of draws which are needed for a win, without the free space. This means a total of 5 draws must be made minimum in order for a breaking the bubble win to occur.

When a player calls out bingo before having a valid bingo this is called jumping the gun.

Wild numbers is the term given to balls which count as multiple numbers. The rules for these vary but a common method is to count the single digit of the first ball as a wild. In this situation a 45 draw, for example, could count as all numbers that end in 5.

In the Japanese version a player will yell out “Reach' to let others players know they are only a single space away from winning.

Some forms of bingo, especially the British form, use extra terms and phrases after each draw. These usually rhyme, appeal to a saying, or match in some way to the visual appearance of the written number.

These include:

  • Legs 11
  • 13 unlucky for some
  • 34 ask for more
  • 71 bang on the drum
  • Two fat ladies 88

Where does Bingo come from?

The first historical mention of a game fitting the description comes from Italy around 1530 A.D.  Later examples of this come from 1778 in France where the game featured 27 squares which were separated into three rows. Later this was further modified into the current popular design.

In the early 1920's the game we currently know as bingo became popularised in Western Pennsylvania. It was here that the first known rule-book originated.  It was around this time that the name came about. The exact origins are unknown, but it was believed to originally be called beano. It wasn't until a patron excitedly called out “Bingo” instead of beano that the name came stuck. Or at least that is how the story goes.

Common Variations

As such a popular game it is only natural that bingo would end up with many different versions.

Death Bingo is a reverse version of the game where a player that gets bingo is eliminated. The eventual winner of the game is chosen based on their ability to fill out as many spaces as possible without actually hitting bingo.

Electronic bingo, the type common to online gaming sites, is a sort of combination between bingo and slot machines. These machines automate a lot of the process and allow the machine to keep track of many more cards at a time than a normal human could. This also means that some of the users who prefer the original method feel somewhat left out.

Table bingo is modern version of bingo which combines traditional bingo with the fast paced action of modern table games. Chips are used as currency in this form of game.

U-Pick'Em is a version is a form which combines the traditional game with keno by allowing the players to select their own numbers.

Quick Shot is a version where the numbers are pre-drawn and the players match their sealed bingo cards against theirs. Despite the name this is often a slow game, depending on the payout. Quick-shot can be played over weeks or even months, depending on how the prizes are given out.

See also:

Author: Steve Jackson

Pokie reviewer, casino reviewer, article writer and all around hilarious and humble Steve Jackson is one of the main writers here at With an interest in writing and games, Steve has worked for years as a freelance writer covering a wide variety of topics. From video-games to umbrella sales - the experience he has gained in his career, combined with his degree in psychology, help him cover what people want, and what they didn't know was important to them. Now together with, Steve and the rest of the staff work together to bring the reader a website which covers a wide range of gambling relating reviews and topics. From the standard pokie and casino reviews to tutorials on casino games and even fun stories on gambling relating topics, Steve has been first on the ground, helping shape the website into what it is, and what it will one day be. Despite knowing a great deal about gambling he has not yet won any major prize pools. If he did you could bet he would be bragging about them here.

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