The Bingo Basics

The Bingo Basics

No other game in history has acquired such acclaim as bingo. Its very name has become a by-word almost the world over, particularly as an interjection similar to "Eureka!" or "Aha!" It was even adopted to title a children's song featuring a farmer's famous dog. Interviews with conservative church-going Christians explain that churches have featured the game in their numerous outdoor activities, particularly in the United States. Then it has gone to touch the heart of God then?

It is a variation of the lotto. A player purchases and plays with as many bingo cards as he wants. With a marker called a dabbler, he marks out number after number found in his cards as announced randomly by a caller, who draws from a special tumbler of labeled balls. Drawn out numbers are not returned to the tumbler but discarded elsewhere so that it is no longer used for the remainder of the game. The player, whose card (or ticket) forms a pattern of called-out numbers in a straight horizontal, vertical, diagonal line, or any pre-determined configuration, wins. The player must also quickly exclaim "Bingo!" to consummate his win.

Different sessions target specific combinations in a day-long bingo game or in a bingo house. The most popular are:

"Blood, Sweat, and Tears." A single card is filled with three bingos, not including the corners.

"Six Pack." A single card holds two rows, horizontal or vertical, of three contiguous numbers each.

"Nine Pack." One card of nine contiguous numbers forming a square.

"Eight States." The numbers around a card's "free space" at the center are filled.

"Postage Stamps." As suggested by the name, two squares of four contiguous numbers are filled out, each square situated at any corner of the card.

"Top and Bottom" or "Two-Lines," in which the contiguous numbers that line up the top and the bottom parts of the card are marked.

"Dotted Picture Frame," in which every other number in the card is marked.

"Cover All" or "Full House." All fifteen numbers in the card are marked out. It is played as the last game, its price worth around $500.

A bingo card hosts twenty-five squares, twenty-four of which hold a number. Bold letters spelling out B-I-N-G-O are printed on the topmost portion of the card, above all the numbers. Each letter heads a column of five numbers, except for the N that only holds four because the blank "free space" situated at the center of the card falls under it. B may head any five numbers from 1 to 15; I, 16 to 30; N, 31 to 45; G, 46 to 60; and O, 61 to 75. This is the only order a card can predictably follow. Other than this, one card differs from the next in that they hold different sets of numbers and in other squares of their respective columns.