For many people, their only experiences with bingo date back to their grade school days when teachers played quick blackout bingo on holiday-themed bingo cards.
Even now, many adults who play bingo in the U.S. are only familiar with the traditional game which uses 75 numbers (which is divided into groups of 15 and with the letters B-I-N-G-O). While the patterns may vary, the game is pretty straightforward. Another version that many people may be familiar with is the UK/European version, which uses 90 numbers.
If you’ve spent a little time in bingo halls, you might have played 80 ball bingo, which uses cards with 16 squares and is a happy medium between 75 and 90 ball bingo.
While traditional bingo games can be fun and exciting, other variations can make the classic game even more enjoyable. We will explain five variations of bingo that you probably didn’t know existed. While your favorite bingo hall may not offer these variations, it never hurts to learn a few more things about bingo.
Bingo U-Pick ‘Em
In some ways, this variation is a little like playing the lotto because you have control of picking your own numbers (between 1 and 75) for your bingo card. When you fill in your numbers, you keep the original copy while the caller gets to the second copy so he or she can verify your win.
While U-Pick ‘Em might be played on a traditional bingo card (with 24 open squares and one free), many cards for this variation has nine squares with either one or two free spaces. You’re more likely to encounter this variation during early bird or night owl games, but it depends on the bingo hall.
In this variation, players are eliminated from the game as soon as they get a bingo. Unlike the traditional variation, bingo is not a win but instead makes you disqualified. The last player left, after all the “bingos” have been called out, is the winner.
Rather than filling up your card, your card should have the least amount of spaces covered (or better yet, none). Your chances of playing death bingo in a large bingo hall are probably pretty slim given it would be a long and potentially boring session for disqualified players but it might be the perfect variation for a small event or bar bingo.
Horse Racing Bingo
Some variations are more suitable for a smaller group of players than the traditional 75-number game that we all know and love. Horse racing bingo is a variation that involves up to 15 players. Most often, these players are chosen at random and are issued a number (1 – 15) which matches the top row of the bingo card.
The caller draws number, as he or she does in any bingo game, and whichever player fills in all five numbers first is the winner. Even though the game is quick, it can be exciting and competitive. You might encounter this variation in-between traditional games or when the bingo crowd is small, like the early bird or night owl sessions.
Bonanza is a favorite variation among bingo enthusiasts, but it may be new to you. In this variation, typically 40 to 50 numbers are drawn (many callers select 43 numbers before the game starts. The numbers can be all odd, even, or random.
As in regular bingo, players mark the numbers on their cards and after a predetermined time (usually the last game of the night), the caller will ask if anyone has a bingo.
Some bingo halls make it a progressive game with a jackpot that keeps increasing while others will just keep calling numbers until there’s a winner. Sometimes Bonanza Bingo ends up being a blackout (also known as a coverall) or another pattern game.
Even though there are plenty of variations that make bingo a unique game, some variations are a little less traditional and are created to appeal to people who may not be initially interested in bingo.
Buzzword bingo is an exciting variation that has endless options. While you may not have the opportunity to play buzzword bingo in a traditional bingo hall, don’t be surprised if you see people playing this variation at your neighborhood pub or coffee shop or even at your next business meeting.
When you play this variation of bingo, you play on a card that looks like a traditional bingo card but rather than having the spaces filled with numbers they have “buzzwords.” These words could be anything from a phrase to a person’s name; the words all depend on the setting or even a theme (such as a movie or a television show that players are watching).
Although buzzword bingo is very different from a traditional 75-ball game, it can get competitive, and it requires good (and stealthy) listening skills. Prizes can be anything from a monetary jackpot to bragging rights.
Learning More About Variations
The classic variations of bingo have attracted crowds of people for decades and continue to fill bingo halls any night of the week, but if you love bingo, you may want to change it up a bit and play a different variation.
We only explained five variations, but there are many more that you are likely to come across at least once if you play bingo on a regular basis. Have you entered a bingo hall and aren’t familiar with the variation? Don’t be afraid to ask questions about how to play.
If the variation is different from the traditional version, there’s a good chance that the caller will give a brief explanation of the rules before playing or you can get a rundown of the rules when you purchase your admission pack.