Bingo Variations That You Don’t See Every Day

bingo variations
Image credit: Andreanna Moya Photography

Bingo websites tend to stick to what they know. As the old saying goes, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” That school of thought does have some merit, but there is nothing wrong with branching out from time to time. Today’s post will discuss a few of the more interesting bingo variations that you don’t see every day.

Bingo is a simple game and it has been around for a very long time in some form or another. Put those together and you have the perfect recipe for a game ripe for spin-offs and variations. Although many bingo variations have undoubtedly been lost in the mists of time, a select few are going strong to this day.

Some of these games are practically impossible to find online; others are quickly growing in popularity and can be found at major bingo sites. The following bingo variations are all either interesting, funny, exciting or a combination of all three. The one thing these games all have in common is that they are loads of fun.

Death Bingo

Sounds pretty dark, right? No, Death Bingo has nothing in common with the much-maligned Dead Pool (in which you bet on who will die next out of a pre-selected group of people). Death Bingo is actually just normal bingo but with one major twist.

Every time a person achieves a bingo in Death Bingo, that person is eliminated from the game. The game continues in this manner until only one player remains standing – the last person to catch a bingo. If you’ve ever had one of those horrifically unlucky nights in which it feels like you can’t hit anything, you can probably imagine the appeal this game has for certain players.

It typically works out such that the person who has marked off the most spaces on their card without hitting a bingo is the winner. As you can imagine, Death Bingo takes quite a bit longer to play to completion than standard bingo. This is a good game for passing a lot of time. Most bingo sites never offer this game, but you may find it online from time to time if you keep your eyes open.

Lotería

Lotería (a.k.a. “Mexican Bingo”) is both quite similar to bingo and quite different at the same time. This game uses a deck of cards with images on them rather than balls with numbers. Each player is given a 4×4 board with each spot on the board corresponding to one of the cards in the deck. As the caller draws the cards, the players monitor their boards and mark them off whenever there is a match.

Lotería cards are renowned for their captivating and old-fashioned artwork. An original set of cards can inspire a serious case of nostalgia for anyone who grew up playing la Lotería Mexicana. What also makes this game unique is the freedom given to the caller (or cantor). Instead of simply calling off numbers and letters, the caller uses old rhymes, witty saying or even bawdy jokes to refer to the image on the cards as he draws them.

diablitoFor example, when the caller draws the Devil card (El Diablito), he might say something like this to announce the card:

Portate bien cuatito, si no bailas con el coloradito.”

Which translates roughly to “behave yourself my friend, if you don’t want to dance with the little red one.” Callers can also come up with their own phrases to reveal the card. They can opt to go with humor, mystery and even social commentary depending on the audience. Altogether, Lotería is a game steeped in tradition and packed full of fun.

Buzzword Bingo

Buzzword Bingo is more of a funny, satirical game designed to poke fun at the catch phrases and buzzwords used in politics and business than it is a competitive game. You often see this game make the rounds during political election seasons as the major candidates go around giving their speeches.

In Buzzword Bingo, each player receives a card marked with certain words that are deemed likely to be uttered by someone giving a speech. For example, you and your friends may decide to play Buzzword Bingo ahead of a candidate’s political speech. Your card might have phrases such as “immigration,” “taxes,” “budget” and so on. Typically, Buzzword Bingo cards will also have phrases unique to the person giving the speech – phrases that the candidate is said to use way too often.

While some people actually play Buzzword Bingo with cards that they mark off, most of the time this is an informal game with nobody keeping score. It is just as common to simply agree that if any of your buzzwords are uttered by the speech giver, you must take a drink or shot.

Slingo

slingoSlingo is a game first developed and copyrighted by Slingo, Inc. in 1995. As the name suggests, Slingo is a combination of slots and bingo that takes the best of both games to create something that plays like slots but retains the multiplayer component of traditional bingo. It is a tough game to find for real money online, but it does seem like a lot of fun.

In Slingo, each player sits in front of what looks like a normal slot machine. However, the main playing area which would normally be where the reels spin remains static and serves as the bingo board with numbers that are fixed in place as the game progresses.

When the player hits the “spin” button, a row along the bottom is spun to randomly display numbers. Whenever a number along the bottom matches one of the numbers up above in the board, the player may mark that board number off as in a normal bingo game. Other special symbols such as jokers, devils, cherubs and super jokers also appear in the spinning area from time to time.

Jokers are considered wild and may be used to mark off any number in the corresponding row under which it appears. Devils cut the player’s score in half, but if a cherub also appears, it cancels the devil out and the player receives no penalty. Super jokers may be used to mark off any number on the entire card.

After each player has spun the reels 20 times, the player with the most accumulated points wins in the game.

30 Ball Bingo

30-ball bingo is a relatively new variant that is also sometimes referred to as “speed bingo.” This game utilizes a simple 3×3 card with a total of nine numbered squares. 30 numbers in total are called and the first player to daub all 9 squares wins the game.

Some variants also play as a 3-stage game with one prize going to the first person to complete one row, an additional prize going to the first player to complete two rows and the main prize going to the player to complete a full house.

The main draw of this bingo variation is the high rate of speed at which it plays. If you’re short on time but still craving a little bingo action, 30-ball bingo is the perfect fit. An increasing number of bingo websites are beginning to offer this game for real money. Some online casinos also offer a version of this game that is played against the house rather than against other players.

50 Ball Bingo

50-ball bingo is another quick-paced game in which each player’s card comes equipped with 10 total squares and no freebies. Cards are arranged in two rows of five numbers each ranging from 1-50. A total of 50 calls are made and each game typically awards two prizes:

  • First prize: first player to complete one row
  • Second prize: first player to complete a full house (two rows)

In practice, 50-ball bingo works a lot like 30-ball bingo. Games are short, prizes are awarded quickly and players and get in for a quick bit of action. Like 30-ball bingo, this game is starting to show up on quite a few real money bingo sites.