Bingo is a relatively new game, descendent from lotteries of old. Lotteries were first organized and used collectively by the Italian government in the 1530’s. Bingo’s history stems from a French lotto lover who developed an alternative version of the lotteries that existed at the time. The initial alteration had three horizontal rows and nine vertical rows with numbered and blank squares in random arrangements. The columns were broken into sets of 10 numbers, 1-10, 11-20, all the way up to 90 in the last column. The bingo balls were chips in those days, and pulled out of a sac by the caller. The first player to cover a horizontal row was declared the winner.
In the 1800’s Bingo variations began to be used as teaching devices. Germany used a version intended to teach its youth multiplication tables. Other educational lotto games existed for spelling, history, biology, you name it! This trend has never died, a quick walk through your local toys-r-us will most likely reveal a Milton Bradley variation of the game with Sesame Street characters, intended to teach numbers and counting.
Up until this point though, bingo was not bingo, it was still known as a lotto game or variation. The coining of the term bingo is most often attributed to a slip of the tongue, in the excitement of yelling ‘Beano’! Beano was the name of a carnival game traveling around New York state around the same time that Edwin S. Lowe was searching for a game to rescue his struggling toy company venture.
Lowe tells the story of going back to New York and gathering up beans, rubber stamps and cardboard cards to hold his own beano get-together with friends. As a sort of test Lowe acted as the caller, and it wasn’t long before he realized the addictive qualities of the game. In one of these initial games, a friend of lowe’s was fast approaching a winning card as Lowe watched with facination. As the woman approached the win she became more and more exciting, more tense, and finally when she won she jumped up and tried to stammer out ‘beano!’ but it came out garbled as ‘bingo!’.
One story always mentioned when discussing the history of bingo is about the one man who went insane over the game (yes, a million women have followed suit). The tale goes as so: Lowe was approached a couple of years after the release of Bingo by a parishioner who had adopted the game as a church fundraiser. The parishioner had come across the problem of cards with the same number combinations, in which there were multiple winners on the same game. To circumvent this Lowe approached a preeminent mathematician of the time, Carl Leffler of Columbia University. Leffler took on the task of creating 6000 unique Bingo cards, slowly working them out one card at a time. Being paid on a cards produced basis, Leffler found the more he made the harder his job was, and near the end was charging $100 for each unique card produced. As the story goes, soon after completing the task of creating all 6000 cards, the professor went insane, perhaps by direct result! The rest, as they say, is bingo history.
Each player has a number of BINGO cards (players can usually play any number of cards). Each BINGO card has 5 rows and 5 columns thus providing 25 spaces. The columns are labeled from left to right with the letters: ‘B’, ‘I’, ‘N’, ‘G’, ‘O’. With one exception (the center space is “free”) the spaces in the card are assigned values as follows: Each space in the ‘B’ column contains a number from 1 – 15. Each space in the ‘I’ column contains a number from 16 – 30. Each space in the ‘N’ column contains a number from 31 – 45. Each space in the ‘G’ column contains a number from 46 – 60. Each space in the ‘O’ column contains a number from 61 – 75.
Furthermore, a number can appear only once on a single card. Here’s a sample BINGO card: B I N G O 10 17 39 49 64 12 21 36 55 62 14 25 FREE SPACE 52 70 7 19 32 56 68 5 24 34 54 71 The number of unique BINGO cards is very large and can be calculated with this equation: // the B, I, G, and O columns * the N column (15 * 14 * 13 * 12 * 11) ^ 4 * (15 * 14 * 13 * 12) While perhaps interesting to a statistician, the number of possible BINGO cards has nothing to do with player’s chances of winning.
- Never play more cards than you can watch. Be careful of “play all you want for $”, you’ll end up going nuts trying to watch all your cards.
- Never bang while you are dabbing. Dabbers work better if you dab lightly. If you bang hard chances are your dabber will leak.
- Paper cards with lower card numbers (free space #) tend to have the numbers closer together card #1 (B: 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5, I: 16, 17, 18, 19 and 20). Longer games like Coveralls tend to draw numbers in sperts close together. 16 17 then 19 and 20 come out. To win more coveralls, try to come in early and get the first set of paper cards issued. On big nights managers stock the counter with plenty cards usually the ones on top are the lowest free space number cards. Check the next coverall for yourself. Notice the flashboard. Lighted up numbers usually in sets by the 30’th number called.
- Be curtious to those around you. Do not yell out loud the number you need.
- Burning the number (on paper cards) does not mean that it will come out the next time.
- Buy a card for a neighbor once a night. You never know when you will want one more game when your wallet says it’s time to go.
- Share the wealth when you win. Toss out a lucky dollar to those around you when you win. If they win a larger jackpot, they could return the lucky dollar (ten fold), especially if they win with your lucky dollar.
- If you want to win at Bingo, play bingo on nights that are generally slower for the operators (Monday – Thursday usually less players than weekends). Being a game of chance if there are fewer players then there are fewer cards in play. If you have as many cards as you can comfortably play and there are fewer cards in play, due to lower crowds, then you have a larger percent of cards in play. Odds in your favor? I think so, especially if the hall you play at offers electronic bingo (computer bingo) and you have 2 or 3 cards per game.