How to Play Bingo

Bingo is a relatively simple game that depends largely on the luck of the draw. Each bingo player is given a card, though some people play several cards at one time. Each card consists of 25 squares in a five-by-five grid. The letters B, I, N, G, and O are along the top of the grid, each topping a column. Each of the five squares in each column contains a number with the exception of the center square – the third square down in the “N” column. That square is marked “free.”

The numbers one through fifteen are posted only in the “B” column. Sixteen through thirty are in the “I” column. The “N” column has only four blank squares because the center square is the free square. Those four squares contain only numbers between thirty-one and forty-five. The “G” column has numbers between forty-six and sixty, and numbers between sixty-one and seventy-five are in the “O” column.

Every number from one through seventy-five appears on either squares of cardboard or balls. Play begins when the caller pulls a number at random then calls that number out loud. Players check their cards for that number. Remember that it’s possible that you don’t have that particular number, because only twenty-four of the seventy-five numbers will appear on any card. If the number does appear, the player covers that number. Some games are played using a marker to make a large dot on the numbers that are called. Other games call for players to use some particular item to cover numbers. Beans were the first things used for this purpose when the game was introduced in the United States, but pieces of paper, stickers or candies all work equally well.

Play continues until someone covers a specific pattern, usually a horizontal, diagonal or vertical row. Remember that the center spot is automatically covered, meaning that the chances of covering a row that include the middle square is statistically the most likely combination.