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Bingo terminology is a vital part of the game, as it allows players to adopt a kind of verbal shorthand that accomplishes multiple purposes. The first purpose is to relay information about the game without having to provide a lengthy explanation. The second is to create a sense of community that keeps the uninitiated at an arm’s length.
Most of these bingo definitions are used in gaming halls around the globe, although some regional differences are inevitable. If you find yourself in a situation where the standard terminology doesn’t seem to work, just take an extra few moments and explain yourself in detail. Bingo isn’t rocket science, so you should still be able to express yourself with a minimal amount of fuss.
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This list is meant to encompass the most common bingo phrases, although we’ve also thrown in some obscure terms for players who like to stay on the cutting edge. Armed with these insider terms, you can walk into a bingo hall and interact with even the most seasoned of players.
Essential Bingo Terms
You don’t have to know every bit of bingo terminology to enjoy the game, but it doesn’t hurt. In this section, we’ll discuss the essential options for communicating with other players and the staff at the bingo hall. Keep in mind, however, that you don’t need to memorize all these terms to begin with. Commit a few favourites to memory and then slowly work on improving your bingo vocabulary over time.
Admission Packet – In order to gain admission into a bingo hall, a player is required to buy a packet with a certain number of tickets. While these packages differ from location to location, it’s common to receive a packet with anywhere from three to six standard bingo tickets and few more for special games.
Bingo – In the U.S. version, a winning player is often required to yell “Bingo” when they’ve met the requirements for victory. If you’re an American player, this is one of the most important pieces of bingo terminology. Of course, it’s also used as the name of the game throughout much of the world.
Bingo Board – As the bingo numbers are drawn and announced, they are displayed on an electronic board visible throughout the hall.
Blackout – In order to be declared the winner in this game, the player must cover every space on the bingo ticket. It’s also referred to as “coverall.”
Blower – A device containing all the bingo balls to be used in a game. Air is blown into the compartment with the balls, and then a single ball is forced out at random to be announced to the players.
Bonanza Bingo – Often held as the 13th game at a bingo hall, this progressive version of Blackout requires players to mark off every spot on their ticket in order to win the jackpot. An additional fee is usually charged to play the game, and the jackpot often rolls over each week until someone wins it.
Bubble – The minimum number of balls required to win a game. The bubble on a single line game, for example, would be five.
Buy-In – This term refers to the number of bingo tickets you buy at the beginning of a session. It’s also known as an admission packet.
Caller – The individual who announces the numbers for each bingo game. In some bingo halls, an automated caller is used.
Card – The paper card that players use to participate in a game of bingo. These cards traditionally have five columns, with each column having a letter at the top (which spell out “BINGO”). The middle of the card has a free space, which gives even the unluckiest of players a single space to work with. The numbers on each card are randomized, and the cards sold for a specific session are always different.
Chat Room – A popular feature at online bingo halls, chat rooms take the form of a small box that appears on the screen. Players may chat with one another during a game, and it’s not uncommon for virtual friendships to be formed.
Consolation Prize – During certain games, this prize may be awarded if a winner hasn’t been declared within a specific number of balls.
Dauber – The tool used to mark off your ticket at brick-and-mortar bingo halls. Daubers can be purchased at the facility and are essentially ink pens with a foam tip (different colours are sometimes available). Online players can sometimes use a virtual dauber, although many Internet bingo halls automatically mark the card for the customer. It’s also sometimes known as a marker.
Early Bird Game – This refers to games that take place earlier than normal. Some halls offer discounts on early bird games.
“Eyes Down” – A phrase used by the caller to let players know that a game is about to begin.
False Alarm – When a player mistakenly calls bingo. In the case of a “falsie,” the player believes they have a legitimate win.
Free Space – Also known as the “blank,” this is a free square in the middle of your bingo card or ticket.
Hard Way Bingo – This term is used when the player forms a winning pattern without the use of the free space.
Housie – The version of bingo that’s popular in Australia and New Zealand. Instead of yelling “Bingo” after a win, the player normally yells “Housie.”
Jackpot – The prize that’s offered to the first player to meet the requirements for winning during a game.
Jumping the Gun – This happens when a player announces their win before having a valid bingo.
Pattern – In order to win a game of bingo, you’ll need to mark off the required pattern on your ticket or card. This might be as simple as a line, or it might be a more complicated shape. In some cases, all spaces on the ticket must be removed to achieve a win.
Ready – When a player is one space away from winning. It’s also known as “down,” “set,” “waiting,” and “cased.”
Ticket – Sometimes used instead of bingo cards, especially in the UK. Tickets have 27 spaces with three rows and nine columns. There are five numbers on each row, as well as four blank spaces. Usually sold in strips of six.
Bingo terminology might seem confusing to a novice, but it’s actually much simpler than the insider terms employed by most professions and hobbies. Some of the terms should be immediately recognizable, while others may require a bit of practice. In either case, these words and phrases offer a new level of understanding of the game, and the astute players should always look for every possible advantage.