How do you play with bingo cards?

bingo cardBingo cards are at the heart of the game, but unless you know what you’re doing – or are playing bingo online with an ‘autodaub’ function switched on – you risk missing a call, and missing out on a prize.

With that in mind, let’s look at some of the things you should be looking for when filling in your bingo card, from the basic layout of each game type’s standard card or ticket, to the tricks experienced players use to help them daub their card a little bit faster, and keep pace with the calls.

Types of Bingo Card

All common bingo cards come in a grid shape, and prizes are usually awarded for completing one or more lines, filling in your entire ticket or, in 75-ball bingo, completing the specified pattern such as four corners, a diagonal line, or a design based on a letter or number.

It’s worth remembering that 75-ball rooms usually change pattern from one game to the next, so keep one eye on the corner of the screen when you’re playing online, to make sure you know which pattern is currently being played – it should be clearly visible until somebody wins.

A 75-ball bingo card usually consists of a 5×5 grid, often with the centre square awarded ‘free’, theoretically making it easier for you to complete the pattern in any given game.

An 80-ball bingo card is usually a 4×4 grid, so for a full house you’ll only need 16 matching calls, compared with 25 in 75-ball bingo (or 24, if you prefer not to count the free square).

Meanwhile, in 90-ball bingo, things are a little different – each ticket will usually contain three rows of five numbers, with four blank spaces in each row as well – we’ll explain why below.

In all cases, as a matching number is called, you highlight it on your game card. In real-world 80-ball bingo there are usually plastic shutters to slide across, allowing boards to be reused again and again.

In 75-ball and 90-ball bingo, real-world players use special daubers to place a precise circle of highlighter ink over each number as it is called – enthusiasts of the game often have a patterned dauber or their favourite colour of ink, and some might even consider it to be bad luck to play with any other pattern or colour.

Online, things are usually much easier, and you’ll typically see your numbers ticked off automatically as they are called, making it impossible for you to miss out on a win.

Some websites will move your tickets around so that the one that’s closest to a win is always shown at the top of the screen – so remember to keep one eye on your other tickets or cards to see if they’re close to catching up and taking over that top spot as your best bet of landing a win.

What Not To Do

There are a few common pitfalls that you should try to avoid if you’re new to bingo, and 90-ball is the prime example of where people try to go too fast, too soon.

In 90-ball, you’re usually given the option of buying one or more tickets from a strip of up to six. With six tickets, each containing 15 numbers, and all from the same strip, you should have every number from 1 to 90 in play.

But remember, if you’re daubing your own card, this means you need to keep track of the positions of all 90 numbers on your tickets, and make sure you don’t miss a single call.

Worse still, if you daub a number that hasn’t been called by mistake, it can be very, very hard to remember your error and avoid making an incorrect call later on when you think you’ve won.

Newcomers should start small, with one ticket or card per game, and get a feeling for the chance a single ticket gives you of winning – there is even an argument that playing one ticket at a time improves your long-term chances, because it means you never have two tickets of your own effectively playing against one another.

Tips and Tricks

Remember those blank spaces on a 90-ball bingo ticket? Many players take them for granted, but there’s a good reason why they’re there.

Five filled-in spaces and four blanks give each of the ticket’s three rows a total of nine columns – equivalent to the nine sets of 10 numbers that are played in 90-ball bingo.

Therefore, if a call is in the range 11-20, it will be in the second column; 71-80 is in the eighth column, and so on, making it easier to locate your number and daub it off.

Likewise, in 75-ball bingo you have five columns labelled B, I, N, G and O; column B contains the numbers 1-15, I 16-30, N 31-45, G 46-60, and O 61-75.

You don’t usually need to even remember this rule, however, as the calls usually include the column’s letter as well as the individual ball’s number, making it especially easy to locate and daub numbers in the 75-ball game.

Finally, the 80-ball game is less commonly played online, but more often than not has a multi-coloured game card with columns of red, yellow, blue and silver corresponding to the ranges 1-20, 21-40, 41-60 and 61-80 respectively.

Calls are usually in the style of ‘Red 15’, again letting you know immediately which column to look in, as well as the exact number you’re looking for.

Make the most of these simple signposts, and it’s harder to go wrong, letting you play multiple tickets and cards at the same time, if you’re feeling adventurous.

And remember, when you play online for money, there is almost always an autodaub function – with this, you can keep pace with the game no matter what, so that you don’t miss out on a cash win even if your manual daubing gets left behind.

Fully Automatic

Last of all, don’t be put off by any of the warnings above if you’re thinking of playing online; there are almost always safeguards in place to make sure you don’t lose out on a win due to your own rookie mistake.

Autodaubing is just one of these, but even if you leave a room mid-game by accident, your tickets will remain in play and you’ll receive your prize if you win.

That means you can safely play in several rooms at once, if you choose, and simply let the website’s software keep track of any wins for you.

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