Bingo Kit

By: Gen Wright


Bingo cards are cards which have pre-printed numbers on them. The cards are made of paper or some other disposable material and the player marks off the numbers on the card with a crayon, bingo dauber (a coloured water based marker) or chips. This game card is no longer an official playing card following the game if it has been permanently marked – if it had just been chips that had been used, it can be reused for another game. Better are hard permanent boards, made of cardboard or plastic which can be used time and time again with chips or some other form of removable tab.

There are also fingertip or shutter cards which are hard cards which have plastic shutters that are shut each time a number is called. These are definitely the best option as they can be used indefinitely and eliminate the need for fiddly tabs or chips.

Each bingo card has 25 squares arranged in 5 columns of 5 boxes each, each of which has a number in, bar the middle square which usually has the word 'free', 'bingo' or the house name imprinted on it. The lovely thing about this square is that is counts as a number called for all players – it's like a bonus square.

The first vertical column is headed by the letter B and contains five numbers in the 1 to 15 range. The second row, under the letter I, contains numbers within the 16 – 30 range, the third row, N, has five numbers form 31 – 45. You get the picture – the fourth and fifth rows are G and O respectively and contain 46 – 60 and 61 – 75.

The B-I-N-G-O headings at the top of the columns are just there as reference points to help players located their numbers quickly – they don't serve any other purpose. No number will be repeated twice in a card.

The Bingo Balls are the next necessity of the game. Bingo is played with 75 ping pong balls which are imprinted with numbers 1 – 75. However some international variations of the game use 80 or 90 numbers.

The bingo balls are mixed in a spherical wire cage or enclosed blower. The cage is an old fashioned hand-spun device that is turned by hand to circulate the balls, while the blower is an electronic device that uses streams of air to circulate the balls, and releases them by means of a hopper which is controlled by the person working the device.

As the balls are removed from the cage they are placed into a masterboard. The masterboard is a flat board with holes for the 75 bingo balls. As each ball is drawn and placed onto the masterboard the weight of the ball automatically lights up the balls number on a flashboard so that players can verify their results.

Of course this is how bingo is played in bingo halls, when playing online bingo you can play many games at a time, and you are even given the option of letting the computer watch your games for you –so you could be 'playing' whilst having a chat in the community rooms!

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