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The Mechanics of Playing Bingo

15 January 2003

By John G. Brokopp

Last week I began a discussion of bingo and the new opportunities that exist for people to play the game online. As is the case with all games of chance, it's important to know what you're up against when you play.

Bingo cards consist of 24 numbers and a "free spot" arranged in a square of five rows and five columns. The numbers on a bingo card range from 1 to 75. Under the "B" the random selection comes from 1 to 15, under the "I" from 16 to 30, under the "N" from 31 to 45, under the "G" from 46 to 60, and under the "O" from 61 to 75.

A totally scrupulous and fair site displays bingo cards that are as random as computer generation will allow. With this in mind, be aware that there are a staggering 552 million billion billion possible combinations of number arrays!

This fact alone makes bingo far from the best gambling option you can find online. The odds against you, however, can be compensated by the fun, excitement, and enjoyment that you derive from playing. Even so, as with all gambling, it's wise to become the smartest, most informed bingo player that you can possibly be.

For example, mathematical studies reveal that the probability of a player getting a standard bingo (vertical, horizontal, diagonal) after 10 numbers are called is a miniscule 0.081 percent. The probability of the same occurrence after 20 calls is 2.29 percent.

You can see that you have to be mighty lucky to get a bingo. It's kind of like lottery drawings in some respects. We all know the astronomical odds we face in some of the bigger lottery games. Well, the odds are similar in bingo.

Or how about the popular "cover all" bingo games that usually have the highest jackpots? After 50 of the 75 numbers have been called, the probability of a player having a coverall is just 0.00048 percent!

After 60 numbers have been called the probability is still just 0.14 percent.

Another popular bingo game option is "four corners". After 20 numbers have been called the probability of a player having a four-corner bingo is 0.4 percent. After 40 numbers have been called the probability is still just 7.5 percent.

So, to sum up my advice for playing bingo online, here are some tips:

  • Take the time to search for a site that most appeals to you
  • Play for fun to get the feel of the site before you play real money
  • Remember that winning at bingo is based on pure luck
  • Keep in mind the mathematical odds against you
  • Check out chat rooms to get first person opinions of sites
  • Play with responsible money and time management principles
  • Do some research on the prizes offered by individual sites
  • Take advantage of sign-up bonuses (but read the small print)

Have fun with your online bingo search and you'll enjoy the best playing experience!

John G. Brokopp
John G. Brokopp's gaming column appears in Chicago Sun Times (Chicago, Illinois), The Times (Northwest Indiana), The Quad City Times (Davenport, Iowa), The Courier News (Elgin, Illinois), The Gazette (Southwest Suburban Chicago) and Senior Wire (Denver, CO). He's also a regular contributor to The Colorado Gambler, Midwest Gaming & Travel, Casino Player and Strictly Slots. John possesses 28 years of experience as a professional handicapper, publicist, freelance writer, and casino gaming correspondent. He is also the author of two very popular books, The Insider’s Guide to Internet Gambling and Thrifty Gambling.

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