When a friend decided she wanted all of us to go play Bingo for her birthday, I was excited about getting to see an actual Bingo game from up close. To be honest, we might or might not have Bingo in Germany. I kind of doubt it, but it’s possible. Either way, in my mind, Bingo is as American as it gets. After ten years in this country, I still have only ever seen it in Americ an movies… that are set in nursing/retirement homes. There are quite a few Bingo Express places located right outside of town on the way to the drive-in movie theatre, so I’ve driven by them many, many times. Until a few weeks ago, I had never stepped in one though. What did I expect? A very slow-paced game, lots of older ladies chatting with each other while marking numbers on some sheet, maybe eating cake and drinking coffee. Man, was I wrong!! So, here’s a Bingo 101 of sorts for my fellow newbies. May you be less surprised than I was when I stepped into the World of Bingo!
- There are two sections: one for smokers and one non-smoking section. Even if you are a smoker, get a table as quickly as you can in the non-smoking section. The smoking section is literally filled with blue smoke! Both sections play the same game of Bingo, so your chances are the same in either.
- There’s quite a bit of trash on the ground…. this turned out to be lottery tickets. Apparently, Bingo and lottery tickets go together. Who knew?!
- Proceed to the table with the cashier and get yourself a booklet of Bingo sheets and to the table where they sell food to buy yourself a fancy marker in the color of your choice.
- So, I thought, you get one sheet with numbers that you mark of. Nope! You have to buy a whole booklet full of sheets in different colors for each round. And every different colored sheet has different rules. What? Yes! Some games, you mark all the evens or odds at the beginning, other games only the top and bottom row can be used. Yet other games, you need an X-shape to win… I could barely keep up! My suggestion? Find yourself a table with a friendly-looking group of Bingo experts and hope that they explain to you what is going on. Before the friendly lady at our table stepped in and explained what would count as a win in which game, there were some false alerts from our groups… One of us would yell “Bingo” and the whole room would start laughing, because it was impossible at that point in the game to be done. This happened at least a few times. Luckily, our fellow Bingo-ers took this group of newbies in stride and laughed instead of getting angry for the disruption 🙂
- How to recognize the Bingo experts whose help you will have to count on? While age might be a give-away, look for a whole case of markers in different colors. I’m not even kidding. The serious Bingo people had tons of markers in different colors with them and they would use the different colors for different rounds. By the way…. you’ll be fine with just one marker, so no worries about having to splurge on many, many different ones. Marco and I did try to share a marker at first, but that didn’t work out at all and we had to go get a second one. THey call those numbers way too fast to be able to share.
- This Bingo Express featured two round of 6-7 games of Bingo each. For each round, you have to buy a seperate booklet. There’s a break in between rounds where you can buy refreshments or just catch your breath and talk with your friends. There are no breaks between actual games. What? You thought you’d be able to talk WHILE playing Bingo? I did, but once the game started I realized how wrong I was very quickly. They call those numbers quickly!! You better be on your toes if you wanna keep up. Also… too much noise is not appreciated by your fellow Bingo players who are intently trying to listen for the next number called. You might be shushed.
- The newest thing? You can pay to rent a computer. The computer is connected to the system and finds all the numbers that are called for you right away. It even bings loudly when you have a Bingo. Seems more efficient, but where’s the fun of not being able to keep up? 😉
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