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Bingo Rules - How to play bingo

There may be minor differences in the way the game is played depending on the vicinity, but the basic Bingo rules always stay the same. The object of Bingo is to match the numbers on your card to the numbers that are called arbitrarily by the caller. These numbers should form a straight line either vertically, horizontally, or diagonally. While at Bingo halls, you choose your cards, in h, the cards are chosen for you arbitrarily.

According to Bingo rules, the card is a 5 x 5 matrix, meaning that there is a vertical column under each of the letters that spell the word BINGO. Each vertical line has 5 spaces, besides the N which has 4 spaces due to the free space in the center of the card. Sometimes Bingo halls have their logo or sign imprinted in the free space. Forming a BINGO without making use of the free space is dubbed “Hard Way Bingo”.

The American variant of Bingo rules uses 75 numbers, which are categorized as follows:

  • Column B = numbers 1-15
  • Column I = numbers 16-30
  • Column N = numbers 31-45 (and the free space)
  • Column G = numbers 46-60
  • Column O = numbers 61-75

While most Bingo halls use balls that are marked with letter/number combinations, moved about in a cage and popped out by air, some have their numbers produced by a computerized program. If you prefer online gambling, then in online bingo there is either a caller or a board where your numbers and your pattern are displayed. Either way, the bingo caller reveals the ball's combination. When the ball is called, it is set apart in order to prevent the number from being called more than once. Many Bingo halls have electronic boards where the called combinations light up and the game pattern is shown.

Daubers, Bingo's version of highlighters, are used to mark the numbers during the game. In online Bingo, certain sites even record your card's numbers for you.

In accordance with Bingo rules, once your card pattern is complete you shout “Bingo!” and await the clerk that will confirm your victory. The game stops while the win is being verified and the prizes are distributed equally in cases of numerous winners. Then, another game of Bingo with new cards starts.

Many Bingo halls have a wide array of patterns which they alternate each sitting. These patterns range from the simplicity of having 4 corners of the card win, to the complexity of having the numbers form a butterfly pattern on your card.

Most often, Bingo halls do not limit your number of cards, so you can play with as many Bingo cards as you can manage. While experienced players sometimes play with over 10 cards, it is not recommended that beginners play with more than 4 cards a game. In online Bingo, many sites limit your number of cards to 4, but there are always others that aren't as limiting.

Article Submitted by:
Josh Gabbins, Gambling Editor.

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