Bingo Equipment Essentials


In order to unlock the excitement of bingo, you have to know the basics of the game.  Even experienced players find that they often learn something new about the game whenever they play.  The information provided below will serve to highlight essential bingo equipment and how it is used.


In bingo, players use cards specially designed cards that feature five columns that contain five squares in each column.  All of the squares contain numbers, with the exception of the center “FREE” square.  Players listen for a number to be called and see if it is on their card.  If so, the square is marked.  When a player completes a pattern that is announced before the start of the game, that person wins.

Each column is labeled with a specific letter, B, I, N, G, and O.  Each letter is assigned a specific number range:


 Column Letter Numbers
 B 1 to 15
 I 16 to 30
 N 31 to 45
 G 46 to 60
 O 61 to 75

The Bingo Card

Bingo cards are bought by the players and are printed on either cardboard or disposable sheets that have a single or multiple card faces.  Each bingo hall will pick which type of cards they want to use.  While most halls use the disposable sheets of paper cards, there are some halls that still use the traditional cardboard cards, also called hard cards or all-night boards.

When you purchase the cards, it is referred to as the “buy-in”.  While the minimum buy-in will vary hall-to-hall, you can expect to pay from as low as $1 and up to $20.  Your buy-in is for a specific session and not for every game of the evening.  If you want to participate in every game, you will have to purchase a card for that event.
The Caller

The caller is the person that picks and announces the numbers.  They are also responsible for announcing the game pattern before the first ball is called.  Which pattern will be called will vary since there are dozens of patterns and each game will have a different pattern.  However, the most common patterns are straight-line and coverall.

Straight-line bingo: Straight-line bingo is the simplest version of the game.  To get “bingo” a player has to get five squares in a straight line that goes from one end of the card to the other.  The line can be diagonal, vertical, or horizontal.  The free space can also be included to reach bingo, meaning the player would only have to get four numbers.

Coverall: Coverall, also called blackout, is typically a jackpot game.  The goal of this game is to cover every square on the card within a specific number of calls.  For example, in a 52-number coverall, all squares on your card have to be blotted within 52 calls.  If no one is able to cover all of their squares, the game is over.
The Numbers

Each ball is selected at random by the caller and then announced to players.  Caller’s use either a blower machine or a manually operated cage for selecting the numbers.  Blowers typically have a trap that catches the balls.  The balls are pushed into a chute by air and then the caller will announce the letter and number to the players.

Inside of the machine, there are 75 balls that are numbered 1 thru 75 and printed with a letter from the word “bingo”.  To ensure fairness, each ball is identical to the other in shape, balance, weight, and size.

After the ball has been called, it is typically displayed on monitors around the hall.  In addition, the overhead scoreboard will display the corresponding number.  The scoreboard is usually located near the caller and will often time also display the current game pattern.

Now that you know how the numbers are called, let’s take a look at how you mark your cards.

The Daubers


Once the number has been called, players have to scan their cards to see if they have that number.  If they do, then they have to have a way to mark it, this is where tokens and daubers come into play.  While many halls allow the use of tokens, many prefer the more popular and easier dauber.

A dauber is a pen-shaped ink dispenser that quickly and easily marks your bingo cards.  Simply remove the cap, press the foam point on the square that has just been called, and you will have a nice, large circular smudge.  Another great advantage daubers have over tokens is that they are permanent and you don’t have to worry about your tokens being accidentally knocked off.