How to Play Bingo

The Only Bingo Guide You’ll Ever Need

Bingo is the name of the game, and it's one of the world's most-loved social games. For eons, folks have taken to bingo like ducks to water. In the days of yore, it was our grandparents who frequented bingo at land-based bingo halls around the United Kingdom, and elsewhere. 

Traditional bingo halls were bubbling over with action, with regularly scheduled weekend games and lots of terrific prizes up for grabs. 75 Ball Bingo, 80 Ball Bingo, and 90 Ball Bingo games routinely rank among the most popular attractions, and with good reason. These are truly fantastic games to play. 

Bingo is about so much more than matching random numbers on a card; it's an entertainment experience par excellence, and you’re about to get the scoop on how to play bingo. So, sit back, relax, and put your feet up. WinkBingo is about to pull back the curtain on the marvelous game of bingo. We begin with a detailed exploration of bingo halls and online bingo rooms. Enjoy!

Table of Contents

Land-Based Bingo Games

For the longest time, the majority of all bingo action took place at land-based bingo venues. In fact, players had no choice because online bingo simply didn't exist. Traditional bingo games date back to the beautiful country of Italy, back in the 1500s. The first known game of bingo was called Gioco del Lotto, and almost 600 years later bingo is still enjoyed in Italy. After bingo got a start in Italy, it quickly grew in popularity and made its way to France. There, the aristocracy relished the game of bingo. 

The next stop for traditional bingo games was Germany in the 1880s. The game of bingo was known as ‘der Lottospiel’ in Germany, and players would shout out ‘Voltreffer’ when they had a a full house, or a full card. Germanparents used this game as a mathematics and spelling teaching tool for their children, and naturally it was equally popular with adults in Germany. Believe it or not, bingo is still used in schools around the world as part of a curriculum

At the height of the Great Depression in 1929, a game known as Beano was introducedto the United States. Rather than using daubers, players used beans to mark off called numbers on their cards. Within short order, bingo gained widespread appeal as a fundraising activity. Las Vegas Nevada, a.k.a. Sin City, may be the top gambling destination in the West, but bingo was actually introduced in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and sold en masse during the 1930s and 1940s.

Churches and synagogues across the nation started setting up social events where players could compete in the name of philanthropy. Already, bingo was being introduced into the mainstream. In the United States, different variants of bingo began to emerge, as the game evolved. The American version of bingo – 75 ball bingo is the most popular variant of the game, while in the UK and Europe, 90 ball bingo remains the mainstay. 

Of course, the appeal of bingo also spread east to Japan. The island nation may have been slow out of the gates, but it has become a top-tier destination for playing bingo games. Except, Japan did things differently with respect to land-based bingo halls. It embraced online bingo first and then made land-based bingo popular as a result of huge online demand. Believe it or not, Japan ranks at #2 in terms of the biggest online bingo market in the world.

It's curious to think that what began as an exclusive attraction for French nobility, was now popularised for the masses everywhere. To add to the appeal, bingo featured as a low-cost form of entertainment for folks out there. Casual players, and high rollers alike can enjoy the fabulous game of bingo at land-based venues around the world. Bingo halls serve their purpose as venues for social gathering, fun, and immersive entertainment. 

The raucous crowds at bingo rooms, fuelled by the antics of animated bingo callers, and colourful characters, only adds to the appeal of this unique game. The prizes at land-based bingo halls are certainly nothing to scoff at either. Glorious Cruise Ship Vacations, fancy electronics, attractive gift cards, baskets of goodies, and generous cash prizes are common. What's not to love about land-based bingo?

Traditional bingo games run at pre-set times and dates, with large crowds gathering to enjoy the festive atmosphere and an opportunity to form a winning bingo card. Such is the incredible appeal of land-based bingo in the UK, that many players regard bingo as distinctly British as drinking tea, having a pint, or eating fish and chips.

The passage of time and the adoption of breakthrough technologies – like the Internet – led to a paradigm shift in player expectations, and bingo was among the first to adapt to these sweeping changes!

Bingo at Online Bingo Rooms

Bingo at Online Bingo Rooms
The advent of the Internet was a game changer for the game of bingo. In an unbelievable twist of fate, the age-old game of bingo received a double-shot of espresso with online bingo rooms. There was this perception among many folks that bingo was a ‘Fuddy Duddy’ game; a game that only our grandparents were likely to play. Online bingo rooms transformed player expectations by delivering a hip, hop, and happening form of bingo to players everywhere.

Suddenly, legal-age players across the United Kingdom, and continental Europe started taking to online bingo in their droves. Bingo was one of the few gambling games that truly earned its hybrid status as the best of both worlds. It fuses the old school charm of traditional bingo rooms with cutting-edge technology and online bingo rooms, for the ultimate immersive gaming experience. A massive injection of legal-age players has catapulted bingo to the forefront of the gambling games in Britain.

Online bingo boasts many advantages over land-based bingo, not least of which is how easy it is to play online bingo. For starters, players don't need to get dressed to the nines and seek out a land-based bingo venue somewhere in the city. You don't need to schedule your online bingo sessions – they're taking place around the clock. Convenience is always a big factor in swaying player opinions. For many bingo-heads, it's a no-brainer – excuse the pun. You can simply power up your PC, Mac, or mobile and play online bingo whenever the mood takes you.

Cost is yet another factor. Online bingo games can be played for as little as 1 penny. That's right folks! Penny bingo games are all the rage. For those who love bingo, and there are millions of us in the UK, it can be challenging finding time to play bingo in between work, family, sport, and social activities. That's not the case with online bingo! And while we certainly don't encourage any of the vices, you can certainly play bingo games online from the comforts of home, without having to worry about extra rules and regulations.

Online bingo is alive and well, thanks to the democratisation of online gaming, under the auspices of United Kingdom Gambling Commission (UKGC).

How to Play Different Bingo Variants?

At its heart, bingo is about matching numbers on your card with those on the bingo caller’s board. You don't have to match all the numbers to win a prize. Sometimes you need to form patterns, horizontal lines, vertical lines, or diagonal lines. Complete bingo cards are known as blackouts, or a full house. They pay the maximum. Let's find out how to play different bingo variants!

5 Line Bingo

5-line bingo games go by another name – 75-25 bingo games. Think of it as a combination of 75 ball bingo and 90 ball bingo all wrapped up into an abridged version of the game. There are plenty of winning chances in 5-line bingo games. Ready to check it out? Let's learn how to play 5 line bingo.

  • Buy your bingo cards
  • Match the bingo caller’s numbers on your card
  • Each horizontal line represents a win
  • 5 horizontal lines (5 x 5) is a full house

75 Ball Bingo

75 ball bingo isthe most popular version of the game in North America (US + Canada). As its namesake suggests, there are 75 balls in this bingo variant. Numbers begin at 1 and end at 75. The bingo cards for these games consist of a 5 x 5 grid of numbers. But here's the catch – there are only 24 numbers on the card since the centre square is ‘gifted’ to players. But wait, there's more!

In 75 ball bingo, there are 5 vertical columns and 5 horizontal rows. Each column features a set of specific numbers and a letter related to the word bingo. For example, the first column to the far left is ‘B’, and includes the following numbers 1 – 15. Next up is ‘I’, and it includes the following numbers 16-30. This is followed by ‘N’ with 31 – 45, ‘G’ with numbers 46 – 60, and finally ‘O’ with numbers 61 -75. 

Put that all together and what do you have? B-I-N-G-O, that’s Bingo!

Winning with 75 ball bingo is fairly straightforward. You can complete the following combinations and bingo patterns:

  • X
  • Blackout
  • Double Line
  • Special Patterns (wineglass, total, the airplane, letter of the alphabet, ladder, triple bingo et cetera)

For a complete set of rules on how to play 75 ball bingo, click here

80 Ball Bingo

80 ball bingo is somewhat of an anomaly in the range of bingo games that you can play. It's kind of a fusion of 75 ball bingo and 90 ball bingo, with a twist. It goes by another name, ‘Shutter Bingo’, although that's probably more apropos to land-based versions of this game. The 80 ball bingo grid comprises a 4x4 square of 16 numbers. Correct, it's not a 5 x 5 grid like 75 ball bingo.

The first column in the 4x4 grid is the colour red. It contains a range of numbers from 1 – 20.The second column in the grid is yellow, and it contains numbers 21 – 40. The third column in the grid is blue, and it contains numbers 41-60. The fourth column in the grid is white, and it contains numbers 61 – 80. The goal of 80 ball bingo is to mark off all the numbers on your bingo card to complete winning patterns.

Winning 80 ball bingo is a fairly straightforward process. You simply need to complete a winning line. These can be horizontal lines from left to right, vertical lines from top to bottom, or diagonal lines from corner to corner. Players can also complete two line patterns (horizontal, vertical, diagonal), three line patterns, and the ultimate combination – four line patters a.k.a. a full house. 

For a complete set of rules on how to play 80 ball bingo, click here

90 Ball Bingo

90 ball bingo is the home favourite right here in the UK! As you might have guessed by now, there are 90 balls in play with this variant of the game. It comes as no surprise that the British enjoy more game playing time than Americans – look at test cricket versus baseball, and 90 ball bingo versus 75 ball bingo…

With 90 ball bingo, the count begins at 1 and ends at 90. There is a 9 x 3 bingo card with just 15 numbers in play at any time. In other words, there are 4 blanked out spaces on each row and just 5 numbers that need matching. The letters B-I-N-G-O do not feature on the actual card, and the purpose of the game is to form winning lines. Prizes are awarded for 1 line, 2 lines, and 3 lines. Once you daub all 15 numbers on your card, you’re the grand prize winner. 

And that dear friend, is how to play 90 ball bingo.

For a complete set of rules on how to play 90 ball bingo, click here

Progressive Jackpot Bingo

If you consider yourself a bingo gaming aficionado, you will absolutely love the concept of a progressive jackpot. What is it you ask? Well, the jackpot gets progressively bigger with every real money wager that is placed on the game. Naturally, not every bet contributes towards the progressive jackpot prize, just a small percentage of every bet. Every time bingo players purchase tickets for progressive jackpot bingo games, – typically 75 ball bingo and 90 ball bingo games – the progressive jackpot grows.

Here is the clincher: To win the progressive jackpot, you must complete a full house within a set number of bingo balls. If you can do that, you know precisely how to play progressive jackpot bingo!

For a complete set of rules on how to play progressive jackpot bingo games, click here

What Other Variants of Bingo Are out There?

You wouldn't believe how many games are fashioned around the concept of bingo. Some of them have absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with bingo, and yet there are bingo underpinnings in many of these games. If bingo is broadly extrapolated to mean matching whatever is on your card with whatever has been called out, then bingo has myriad applications in schooling, gaming, and other fanciful activities.

  • Bar Bingo Games – no alcohol is needed for this game, just saying. Replace the word bingo on the card with the word booze or drink. That makes it fit perfectly with a 5 x 5 card. Next, think of a bunch of keywords related to things you would see in a bar and write them on each of the squares on your bar bingo card. Use your smartphone to take pictures of all of the keywords, and the first one to create a full house is the winner.
  • Speed Bingo Games with trivia questions to fill bingo squares on the card, to win prizes.
  • Buzzword Bingo Games – this exciting bingo variant features a unique set of rules, with words and phrases in each block. The centre block in the 5 x 5 grid is blanked out and is effectively a free square for players. The winnings structure varies from game to game, but the objective is to form five blocks vertically, horizontally, or diagonally. 

Daubing, Dabbing, Marking, Auto-Marking? How to Mark Cards in Bingo?

At land-based bingo venues you will notice that there are two types of systems at work. The first is an electronic bingo screen which allows you to mark numbers by touching the screen, or it automatically does it for you. The other option is paper bingo cards which you will mark on your own with coloured pens known as dabbers or daubers. This is simply a bingo word that has become popularised within the industry. Sometimes, you may use little tacks to place over called numbers on your bingo cards, but a little movement here and there can throw everything out of whack.

Online bingo rooms make it much easier to manage your bingo cards. For one thing, you can buy multiple online bingo cards and have the sophisticated computer software auto-daub them for you. That means the computers automatically mark all called numbers on your cards without you having to worry about missing a number, and a potential bingo prize. Of course, for the purists out there who like the traditional approach when playing online bingo, there is another option.

You can manually mark numbers on your online bingo cards by clicking on those numbers with your mouse, or if you have a touchscreen simply touching those numbers. It's an ingenious solution to those who enjoy the tactile approach to bingo. Auto-marking of bingo cards is by far the easiest way to get things done. You can play as many cards as is practical, and have them automatically assessed in real time.

What is Bingo Lingo?

What is Bingo Lingo?

There is nothing ordinary about the game of bingo, because it's actually extraordinary! Here is one of a handful of games that has actually created a subculture of its own words, terms, phrases, and associations. Bingo lingo, or bingo parlance is unique to this social game, and it is understood by those who have been playing the game for a long time. Would you believe that every single number in bingo, whether it's 75 ball bingo, 80 ball bingo, or 90 ball bingo, is associated with cute and memorable expressions?

Bingo lingo is many years in the making, dating back to the early 1900s, perhaps beyond. These bingo calls are designed to jazz up the traditional game for the modern age, and they certainly work. There are many bingo calls used to announce every single number in a bingo hopper. Take a look at the following 30 ball bingo calls:

1 – Kelly's eye
2 – One Little Duck
3 – Cup of Tea
4 – Knock at The Door
5 – Men Alive
6 – Half A Dozen
7 – Lucky Seven
8 – Garden Gate
9 – Doctor’s Orders
10 – Prime Minister
11 – Legs 11
12 – One Dozen
13 – Unlucky for Some
14 – Valentine's Day
15 – Young and Keen
16 – Sweet 16
17 – Dancing Queen
18 – Coming-Of-Age
19 – Goodbye Teens
20 – One Score
21 – Royal Salute
22 – Two Little Ducks
23 – Thee and Me
24 – Two Dozen
25 – Duck and Dive
26 – Pick and Mix
27 – Gateway to Heaven
28 – Overweight
29 – Rise and Shine
30 – Dirty Gertie

Yes, of course there is a history behind each of these bingo calls. We don't always know what that history is, but we've got a pretty good guess. For example, 3 – Cup of Tea fits in beautifully with what we do daily in the UK. 7 – Lucky Seven is universally accepted as a lucky number, and so is Lucky Seven in bingo too. 

14 – Valentine's Day needs no explanation, neither does 19 – Goodbye Teens. Other bingo call such as 22 – Two Little Ducks requires a little creative viewing… Now you see it! 30 – Dirty Gertie is a tribute to the bronzed sculpture of a naked lady in North London from 1927. The soldiers used to sing a song about Dirty Gertie, and since it rhymes with 30, it stuck!

For more on bingo calls take a look at this laugh out loud list of incredible bingo lingo.

How to Play Bingo: What is Bingo Etiquette?

No doubt bingo is a social game. That fact was established in the 1500s! Regardless, there is a certain decorum and etiquette that is expected of players at traditional bingo halls, and online bingo rooms alike. But what exactly is bingo etiquette? According to the Oxford dictionary, ‘Etiquette refers to the formal rules of correct or polite behaviour in society, among members of a particular profession or in a particular area of activity.

At land-based bingo halls, it's probably best to take your seat and listen to the bingo caller while marking numbers off your card. It wouldn't be right to yap away on your smartphone while players are trying to mark their cards and hear the bingo caller's voice. There may be certain rules in place with regards to bringing food into a bingo hall too. Your general conduct – your comportment – needs to be conducive to a fun-filled session of play with bingo. Remember, it is a social game, so you’re not expected to sit quietly. Mindful interaction is encouraged, since bingo is all about the buzz.

In online bingo games, etiquette is less likely to become a problem, since all of the action takes place remotely. However, it's always important to act with respect and dignity when communicating with other players and the bingo caller. Disruptive behaviour serves no purpose other than to degrade the experience for yourself and others. Be sure that you understand bingo rules, and try to keep chatter to a minimum, so as not to detract from anyone else's enjoyment of the game. Here are a few no-no’s in bingo etiquette:

  • Forgetting to Tip the Bingo Caller
  • Masquerading as a Legal Age Player 
  • Double Check Before You Shout Bingo
  • Repeating Numbers and Disrupting Players
  • Knowingly Taking Another Player's Lucky Seat

Are you curious to learn more about bingo etiquette & rules? Click here for more information

Remember, you can buy into certain bingo games for as little as £0.01. That's right folks! There are plenty of penny bingo games out there. Of course, the more cards you buy the more your bingo games will cost you. It's important to play within your budget at all times, so you don't break the bank.

Side Note: Would you look at the time?

WinkBingohas just taken you on a whirlwind adventure through the sands of time as you learned how to play bingo. We hope you will put all this information to good use the next time you play online bingo games.

Key Takeaways:

  • Bingo of today is not your grandma’s bingo! It’s a fast-paced, interactive, rewarding, and entertaining online casino game. 
  • Bingo comes in many different variants, including 5 line bingo, 75 ball bingo, 80 ball bingo, 90 ball bingo, and progressive jackpot bingo games. 
  • Bingo differs considerably from land-based bingo to online bingo. There are many more benefits to playing bingo from home, or on mobile. These include: comfort, cost, and convenience factors.
  • Bingo is also one of the few games with its very own diction. Find out everything you want to know about Bingo Lingo with all the colloquialisms, slang, and bingo jargon.
  • Lastly, we examine the broad topic of bingo etiquette for the polished player who wants to fit in with the cultural zeitgeist of bingo rooms. 

Until then, toodeloo bingo heads!


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