For many novice players, bingo may seem pretty uncomplicated, and for the most part, it is, but there’s more to the game than yelling out “Bingo!”
Whether you need a little refresher or are new to the game, learning the terminology can be helpful. Not only will knowing some of the most common terms make you seem less of a newcomer to an age-old favorite game, but it may help you increase your chances of winning big.
Even though memorizing every term related to bingo isn’t necessary, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself so you can enter any bingo hall with confidence. We have the ultimate guide to bingo terminology, which we organized alphabetically for your convenience and as a quick reference.
Common Terms Used in Bingo
Admission: Much like the name suggests, admission is the minimum of cards one must buy to be eligible to play bingo. You may also hear Admission Pack; this simply refers to the pack of cards you purchase before the regular game (or “session”) starts. The amount varies at each bingo hall. You may also hear the term, Buy-In.
After Games: An after game is any game that is played after a regular game.
Any way: If you haven’t played bingo in a long time, you may only be familiar with straight up & down, diagonal, or blackout patterns. If the caller deems the game as “any way” that means that the selected pattern (such as a “T”) could be in any direction.
Bingo: Not only is it the name of the game, but it is the most critical part of the game. When you have a “bingo” (which is all the numbers filled in to make the pattern), you are a winner. It’s important to shout out “BINGO!” right away otherwise you could be disqualified or beat by some other player.
Bingo Board/Card/Dauber: In the game of bingo the board, card, and dauber are essential to the game. The board displays the numbers once they are called. This helps keep players up-to-date and the game moving at a fast pace.
The card contains 24 numbers (plus a free space). The numbers are arranged in a 5×5 square, and each column represents a letter from the word “BINGO.” Cards are usually flimsies, which are throwaway bingo cards or hard cards, which can be reused (and have sliders or shutter boards to cover the number).
The dauber (also known as the marker) is used to mark the letters that are called. Most bingo hall games require a dauber, but some may use chips to cover the numbers. Daubers are often for sale at bingo halls if you don’t have one of your own.
Blackout: A blackout is often also called a coverall, and the objective of the session is to cover all of the numbers on your bingo card. You may even hear the term Full House.
Caller: A caller is a person who calls out the bingo numbers as they reach for the randomly generated bingo ball. Caller’s Choice is when the caller decides the pattern (such as blackout) for the game.
Consolation Prize: This prize is awarded to player who is either the 2nd person to hit bingo or when no one gets a bingo within the maximum amount of calls during a progressive game. Consolation prizes are smaller than the jackpot.
Early Bird Game: An early bird game is game of bingo that’s played before the regular session. It may also be the name for the first game of the day. Playing an early bird game is a great way to “secure” a good spot in the bingo hall.
Fair and Square: At many bingo halls you can buy more cards than what comes in the admission pack. Some halls may have a rule of “fair and square” which means that all players have to play with the same number of bingo cards.
Four Corners: This is a common pattern that the callers like to choose for a game. The pattern is how it sounds; the player must cover all four corners of the card before yelling out “Bingo!”
Hardway Bingo: This refers to hitting a BINGO without the use of the free space, which is on the center of each bingo card.
Jackpot: The jackpot is the biggest prize awarded during bingo, and it is typically given out at the end of the night or after the last game.
Lucky Jar: A lucky jar is also known as a cookie jar and is a progressive jackpot that you get when the lucky number or money ball is won on. Typically, when a player receives a bingo on the money ball, the winnings are doubled.
Multiple Winners: Occasionally, two or more players will win the game with the same number. When this occurs, the prize is awarded evenly among any winners.
Nine-Pack: This pattern requires players to cover nine squares placed in a block. It’s not uncommon to encounter similar patterns like six-pack (covering six squares in a block).
On The Way: This is the game that you play before a blackout pattern. An on the way game is played on the same card as a blackout game.
Postage Stamp: This pattern is four-pack which forms a small square in the corner (like a postage stamp).
Quickie: If the caller tells you that the game will be a quickie or a speed game, be prepared to listen hard and move fast as the blackout game is played as quickly as possible.
Split Pot: If you win the bingo game and it’s a split pot, you split the pot with the bingo hall. Often it’s a 50/50 split, but the percentages may vary.
Wild Number: This number is freely given to all players and is often thought of as a “free play.”
Wrap Up Game: This game is simply the last game of the evening and when the jackpot is available.
It’s important to note that while the bingo terminology we share with you is typical throughout bingo halls, some terms may be different depending on the hall. If you have questions, always feel free to ask a friendly bingo hall owner or patron.