How Do I Play Online Bingo?

The likelihood is that you’ve stumbled across a game of bingo before in your life. Whether you’ve played along or not is a different question, but there’s every chance you’ve seen a game taking place either on TV, in movies, in person, or online.

The immediate thought that springs to mind is of large halls with every table filled by happy punters all intently listening to the bingo caller as they mark off their cards. This scene is accompanied by the yells of various numbers and their ‘bingo lingo’ equivalents – “knock at the door, number four” or even “two little ducks, twenty-two”. This yell is normally nothing in comparison to the lucky winner who will scream “bingo!” at the top of their lungs to make sure they were heard first in the case of a tie.

But if you’re reading this article, then you’re probably exploring how this game works when it comes to online bingo, what the rules are, and what you may need to be aware of to get the best results out of your online bingo endeavours.

Whether you’re playing online or in person, the concept of the game is the same. It’s a fun, social game (yes, even the online version) which usually can be played at a low cost making it good value for money. Your goal is to mark off the numbers from your card (either in person or a virtual card) as they are called out or drawn and to complete a line on that card or a full house to win a prize, or even the jackpot.

Online bingo, however, can look confusing to somebody just starting out. There are so many varieties of games to choose from and it can be difficult knowing where to start. In this article we’ll help you get started by helping you choose the right bingo site, explain some of the rules and game varieties, and discuss all things online payments, withdrawals and fair competition.

Choosing a Bingo Site

Deciding on which bingo site to settle on and invest your money into can be the first daunting task on your road to online bingo. There are so many different options it can be a bit of a headache.

While it is very simple to register for most online bingo sites, to steer you in the right direction we have listed some of the main considerations you may want to make in finding the right site for you.

  • Brands – You will instantly recognise some of the bingo brands from the huge amount of marketing and advertising they have produced over the years. This includes the likes of Foxy Bingo and Tombola, who have both run recent large-scale advertising campaigns. In fact, Tombola is the current sponsor for ITV’s ‘I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here!’. However, just because they spend the most on advertising doesn’t mean they’re automatically the best. There are many smaller and independent sites worth exploring too.
  • Reviews – Reading reviews of other gamers’ experiences is one of the best ways to understand which websites are for you and the ones you should avoid. Look out for everything from the enjoyment of playing on the site right through to experiences of customer service and pay-outs.
  • Size – For those sites that are part of a much bigger brand or ownership the chances are they have much more investment and revenue. With this investment and revenue, they are able to expand their offering to more games and, usually, bigger pay-outs. For the smaller sites that are independent, the variety of games on offer may not be as large and the prize pots could reflect this. However, size also matters when it comes to the size of the game you’re actively playing in or, more precisely, how many other players you’re playing against. Simply put, the more players in an active game, the lower your chance is to claim the big prize. It’s about finding the balance between the two.
  • Themes – Themes are fun. It’s really as simple as that. When it comes to finding a bingo site that works for you, part of that is also finding a theme that you enjoy. Some are based entirely around music and the rock n’ roll lifestyle, while others are more generic and opt for a cleaner look and feel. This one really is down to personal choice.
  • Software and network – As you play more online bingo and begin to play across different sites, you will notice similarities in both game play and certain elements of the design. This is because although there are thousands of different bingo websites, there are only a handful or back-end software or networks that these games operate on. Ultimately, this shouldn’t make a difference as to what site you decide to start playing bingo on. In the long-term you may find a particular software that you enjoy playing on more than others, but it’s nothing to worry about in the early stages.
  • Payment – This is an important one. While the majority of the big sites will offer all of the standard payment options, payment options and methods can and do vary from site to site. Pretty much all will offer basic card payments, but if you want to use options such as PayPal or even Apple Pay then you may need to look at some of the more established sites.
  • Win rate – Once you get up to speed with all things online bingo and you become more comfortable, it may be worth exploring which of the sites are currently offering the highest win-ratio, especially before deciding to invest any sizeable amount.
  • Multi-site strategy – Finally, an effective approach to online bingo can also be to play across a handful of sites and capitalising on all of the above. Only do so when you are comfortable with the basics of the game, but spotting the right jackpot and playroom at just the right time can prove a very worthwhile strategy.

Ultimately, however, it is very much down to your own personal preference and based on which is the most fun and entertaining experience for you as well as the opportunity to maximise your winnings.

The Rules of Bingo

One of the great things about bingo, and one of the reasons it is so popular, is because it is very simply to play. The fundamentals of the game revolve around matching the numbers on your card or ticket to the numbers that are drawn from a pot at random. Generally speaking, the first player to match a line of numbers on their card, or even the entire card (or full house), to the randomly drawn numbers wins.

The first step is to buy your ticket. This may also be referred to as a card. On these cards you will see a grid with a series of numbers already marked in rows and columns. As the game begins and the caller (or virtual programme) begins to draw out the random numbers from the pot and it is the player’s responsibility to mark these numbers off their cards as they appear. In a real-life game of bingo, this is where a lot of the excitement starts, as keeping up with the pace of the game all adds to the fun. This is also true for online bingo, but players can select the automatic functionality to make sure they do not miss a call.

There are slightly different rules across the different game varieties (we’ll come onto those), but generally speaking winning a game of bingo comes down to the first person to claim a full house. This means that the first person to cross off every number of their card wins, and the game is over.

Different types of bingo

There are several different types of bingo you can play both online and in person. However, there are four core bingo varieties that are worth knowing and understanding. Some sites will focus their efforts on some more than others, but you will almost always find different games that follow one of these four formats:

  • 90-Ball Bingo: This is the most traditional version of bingo in the UK and Europe and, as the name suggests, the numbers in this game range between 1 and 90. Each player’s card will have a grid of 15 numbers in three rows of five. Generally, throughout a 90-ball game there will be three parts to the game and three prizes up for grabs. The first prize is traditionally the player who is the first to successfully complete a single horizontal line on their card. The second is for the player who first successfully completes two horizontal lines on their card. Finally, and usually reserved for the biggest prize, is the first player to successfully mark off every number on their card and complete a full house.
  • 80-Ball Bingo: This variation of the game is similar to 90-ball, but rather than the numbers ranging from 1 to 90, the numbers only go up to 80. In addition, each player’s card will feature a 4×4 grid. While players can win in the same ways as the 90-ball game, the 80-ball variation also differentiates itself as player’s can win by marking off certain patterns on their card. The most common patterns include all four corners of the grid, X shapes or even central squares on the card grid. Each variety of pattern will be announced before the start of the game so that you know what you’re looking for.
  • 75-Ball Bingo: This version of the game is most popular in the US and Canada but will also be available on most bingo sites. In a 75-ball game, each player’s card will feature a 5×5 grid containing number ranging from 1 to 75. Just like in 80-ball bingo, players can win prizes if they mark off certain patterns on their card which will be announced at the start of the game and, just like all forms of bingo, the game is over when the first person successfully marks off a full house.
  • 30-Ball Bingo: Unsurprisingly, this is a much shorter and fast paced version of bingo. Each player’s card will feature a 3×3 grid with the aim to simply be the person who marks off all of the numbers first. Usually in this game variety there is only one prize up for grabs and that’s a full house!

Each of the above games have slight differences. It doesn’t mean that any one particular version is better than the others. The best approach is to try all of them and work out which one is the most fun for you.

Is online bingo fair?

This is often one of the first questions that new players ask in regard to online bingo. In a real-life game of bingo, players can see the balls being directly pulled out of the pot which makes it feel fair. On an online game, however, the numbers are drawn using a Random Number Generator.

All official bingo sites must be licensed and regulated by the governing bodies and laws of the land in which you are playing in order to provide a fair game. This covers the methodology behind the Random Number Generator, as well as other aspects of the game. If you are playing within the UK, each site will need to be accredited by the UK Gambling Commission and the certification number should be available to see in their website.

The best way to check the fairness of any site, after checking their full legal accreditations, is by exploring the reviews or forums. The best sites will have a good reputation among the online bingo community and will be your safest bet.

Importantly, and unfortunately, fair does mean not always winning. You can go on a losing streak that feels impossible to shake, but this is part of the game.

In conclusion

The most important point to remember is that bingo is a game designed to be fun. Hopefully this guide gives you the confidence to start playing online and feel safe and secure in the process.

Like with all online, or even offline, games, there are a few things to always be conscious of. This includes the terms and conditions, the rules of the game, and the pay-outs and payment methods. If you encounter any problems, most sites have a straight-forward customer support service that you can raise your queries to.

The list at the start of this article should give you the right advice to get started in playing, but from there its down to you. Our advice is to explore a range of different sites and different games to find the ones you enjoy the most and engage with chat rooms and forums filled with other regular bingo-goers, as they usually have a trick or two to share!

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