Bingo Basics

Bingo is played on a Bingo card that features five columns of five squares. Each square contains a number except for the center square which is designated "Free". The five columns correspond to the letters in the word Bingo. Each column is named by the letter.

The game involves a total of 75 numbers. These numbers are sequentially divided into each of the five columns.

 B 1 to 15
 I 16 to 30
 N 31 to 45
 G 46 to 60
 O 61 to 75


The cards a player uses are usually provided on disposable paper sheets. A sheet may contain one or more bingo cards. Most halls use sheets with 3, 6 or 9 cards arranged in strips of three.

Each player must purchase the number of cards required to play each game. The cost of playing depends upon the type of game or the prizes that will be awarded.

The Caller selects numbers at random and announces them to the players. The caller will announce the Bingo pattern that the players will be looking for before the first number is called. The caller receives a numbered ball from a machine called a blower which circulates the balls and delivers them one at a time through a chute to the caller.

There are 75 individually numbered balls in the machine. Each is a match to the other in shape, size and weight to ensure there is an equal chance for each number to be pulled.

When the caller receives a numbered ball from the chute he will announce the number letter combination to the players. A typical announcement might be: "under the N-35." The number will also be shown on closed-circuit television or scoreboards located to ensure all players can see the number called.

When the players hear the number they check their cards to see if they have it one one or more of the cards they are playing. If they do, they usually mark the letter with an ink spot from a Dauber. Daubers are specially made markers filled with various colours of ink. Each dauber has a foam tip that transfers ink from the dauber to the bingo paper. The benefit of daubers is that the marks do not move if the paper is shifted and they make it easy for the player to see which numbers are remaining. The called numbers are also visible through the dauber mark.

The colour of the ink in the dauber is up to the player. Some players have favourite colours they use all the time while others may choose a colour based upon feelings of luck or past successes.

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