Bingo, one of the world’s oldest pastimes, offers an exciting evening of entertainment with a good chance of winning cash prizes. But if you’ve never played before, you may be filled with a little apprehension or a lot of questions.

Things to Know Before You Bingo (1)
Things to Know Before You Bingo

What time should I arrive? What do I do when I get there? What do I need to bring? How do I play? Did they sell food here? Here is everything you need to know before you bingo.

The first thing you need to do is find a local game. There are several great resources online that will help you find the local bingo hall, church, or community organization that’s running a game. Bingo Bugle and Bingo Locator are two of the more popular ones.

Now that you found a game, head online and research the facility. See if they have a website or a Facebook page where you can find out more details about the game—the time the bingo session begins or the prize amounts you can win.

Oftentimes, bingo games list early bird start times and regular start times. Early bird games are individual games that are purchased separately and usually played before the regular bingo game starts. Common practice is to arrive 30 minutes prior to an early bird game or a regular bingo game. This will give you enough time to grab your seat, set up your ink dabbers, grab a bite to eat, and chat with your fellow players.

The variety of game packages that a hall can offer may seem a little intimidating at first. Feel free to explain to the volunteers that this is your first time playing, and they’ll steer you in the right direction. They’ll offer you the right package for your skill level. Many halls will even offer a beginner’s package. But whatever you decide, if you haven’t played before, consider buying a smaller amount of bingo papers. Less cards to dab will make it easier to follow the game.

Once you’ve bought your package, pick your seat carefully. Observe where the bingo caller sits, as well as the flash board, which is the lighted board or HDTV where the called numbers will be displayed. Sitting closer to the caller will help you focus on the game and not miss any of the numbers being called.

Once you have your seat, take some time to grab something to eat from the snack bar, make some friends with the people around you, or set up your good luck charms. Get ready for a fun evening of excitement.

The most important tool to play a game of bingo is your ink dabber. Some halls will give you a free one in your beginners package, or you may have to purchase one at the hall. It’s okay to bring a small tote bag to carry your supplies into the hall.

Before the bingo games begin or during intermission, you may notice volunteers walking around selling pull tabs. Pull tabs are a game of chance where players pull open the perforated windows on the back of a ticket, trying to match three symbols on the inside to the winning combinations shown on the front of the tickets. Pull tabs are fun and easy to play.

Once the game starts, the caller will inform the players of the type of bingo pattern that will be played during each game. Most halls will provide players with a program that details the game styles and prize amounts that will be available during each game.

Possible patterns that can be played include straight line, four corners, postage stamp, X, or coverall, to name a few.

As the game plays out, be alert and stay focused. If you miss a called number, don’t panic. Look at the flash board to review the number that was last called; it is usually blinking on most styles of flash boards. You’ve got a bingo! But before you let the excitement get to you and you holler out, the caller must have called the ball number before you shout for joy.

As you’re enjoying yourself, keep in mind that many bingo games support a local charity, so your attendance not only gives you a chance to win but helps out a good cause as well.

Hopefully, you now have a better understanding of the game of bingo. So take a trip to your local bingo hall and enjoy an evening of fun and excitement. Good luck!