B-I-N-G-O! Don’t you love yelling that word? Especially when you get paid big bucks for getting a bingo. If you are 18 or older, grab your daubers, your good luck charms, and your bingo bag and head out to your nearest bingo game!
But if you haven’t played bingo since you were a kid, there are some important things you should know first. Bingo has changed over the years with the addition of electronic bingo machines, flashcards, and cherry bells. Bingo games aren’t just straight bingos but all different kinds of patterns such as Crazy Flag, Block of Nine, Small Diamond, Six Around the Corner, and a whole lot more. The pattern you need is usually printed in a bingo program which shows sample patterns and up on the electronic bingo board which shows all of the numbers that have been called for that game.
Bingo is normally played on a six-on sheet which means that there are six different bingo cards on one piece of paper. Bingo cards also come in four-on sheets which is four different bingo cards on one piece of paper. Those are normally used for early birds – which is the set of games played before regular bingo. Some bingo halls also use the four-ons for extra games like Smoke Break and Getaways. You will need a bingo dauber to mark your paper. These are markers that are filled with colored ink. They usually cost around $1 to purchase and can be bought at the bingo hall. The daubers seem to last forever.
Along with paper cards, many people play a bingo machine. This is a machine with somewhere between 54 and 250 bingo cards on it. To use a machine, you just enter the number and it marks all the cards and tells you when you are on (on means you only need one more number to win).
Next are Flash Boards and Cherry Bells. These are games, in the size of a scratch-off lottery ticket, that you can purchase in addition to paper bingo cards and machines. Flash Boards run between $1 to $2 each and Cherry Bells run between 25 cents to 50 cents each. For Flash Boards, you peel off the tabs and if you get numbers, you play a special daub game. Some pay $1,199 for winning and then there is a really big one-the $2,399 double Flash Board game which is two separate $1,199 games that are attached and have all the same numbers. A double Flash Board pays $2,398! I routinely see people plunk down $20 to $100 for one flash game and many halls play several Flash Board games a night. So basically if someone already spent $40 to get paper and machines and then spent a few hundred on Flash Boards (which many people do), they are just breaking even if they win one bingo game of $250 by themselves! That is just insane! Just like Flash Boards, there are Cherry Bell diehards. Cherry Bells have smaller instant prizes that range anywhere from 50 cents to $500.
Some bingo halls have an extra pot of money, sometimes called a pickle jar, which if you paid the extra $1, then you are eligible to the pickle jar money if you bingo on a pre-determined pickle jar number. At the hall I frequent, St. Francis Cabrini in San Jose, there are sometimes two or three pickle jars with up to $250 in them.
One very important note, normally bingo halls will show the bingo balls in a television screen so that people can mark the number before it is called. Be sure to yell bingo when you have one as soon as your number is called, not just when it appears in the screen. If the caller moves onto the next number and you haven’t called bingo, you will lose out on that bingo. Make sure to yell it loud because it only counts if the caller or bingo staff hears you and acknowledges that you called bingo. I have seen people lose $250 for their bingo because they didn’t yell bingo loud enough!
So now that you know about bingo, how do you find a game near you? You can go online and do a search or head over to bingobugle.com, which is a tabloid size monthly newspaper that tells which games are in your area. Good luck to you!