Bingo for Beginners

Two things used to come to mind when I hear the word bingo. The time I joined my grandmother and her friends for a game of bingo at a local church hall (for less than impressive prizes) and a song my mum used to sing to me. You know the one…
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“There was a farmer had a dog and bingo was his name-o B.I.N.G.O, B.I.N.G.O, B.I.N.G.O and… Bingo was his name-o”. While I quite enjoyed the song, the purple-haired biddies put me off a little. Needless to say I never really considered bingo to be my game of choice. That is of course till I discovered online bingo – a mix of competitive thrills; friendly chat sessions, luck of the draw and of course… excellent winnings.

Bingo’s Beginnings

Bingo originated in Italy in the 1500s its precursor the Italian National Lottery. This lottery styled game spread quickly throughout Europe and reached America in 1929 in the form of a game called Beano. The first time the game was played was at a carnival where a man by the name of Edwin Lowe became enthralled by this simple game played with beans and cards. After creating a homemade version Lowe began holding beano evenings at home which were a great success. One night one of the players who had successfully completed their card jumped up in such excitement that they screamed bingo instead of beano … and the name stuck. Lowe successfully marketed the game and that is how it all started.

The Ins and Outs of the Game

Essentially each player has a card (5X5 grid) or several cards depending on their skill level. Each of the 5 columns on the card is marked by one of the letters that make up the word bingo. There are 5 numbers under each letter and as the caller draws numbers the aim is for the player to cover each of the numbers on their card to win.

There are so many card combinations (somewhere between six and nine thousand) so it’s near impossible to cheat. Legend has it that the mathematician who developed the number combinations eventually drove himself insane. Players have to keep their wits about them as things move relatively fast and it is easy to miss out on the letter/number combination called out. Missing one could cost the player the game. Once a line or the entire card (depending on the rules being played) the player must shout bingo.

The prize is awarded to the first player to shout bingo (once their card has been checked of course) and the next round begins.