Glossary of Bingo Terms
- Admission - Most bingo halls have a minimum number of cards you must purchase to be eligible to participate in the bingo games. Typically this means the purchase of an "Admission Pack." The exact contents of the admission packs vary from one bingo hall to another, and may even contain special games.
- Admission Pack - A pack of bingo cards that includes every regular "session" game. Sometimes bingo halls offer special games only available with these packs. Pack contents vary widely from hall to hall.
- After Games - Any games played after the end of a regular "session" of play.
- Any way - A term used to describe a bingo "pattern." For example, if the bingo pattern was the letter T "Any Way" That means the T could be upside down or turned 90 degrees left or 90 degrees right.
- Bingo - Derived from a variation of a lotto called Beano - which used beans to mark the numbers. The actual phrase "Bingo" was coined after the game was first introduced in New York and a woman tongue tied with the excitement of winning yelled out "B-B-B-Bingo!." Now, when you have all the required numbers, or "pattern," to win you are suppose to yell out "Bingo!" right after your last winning number is called. Most bingo halls will not honor a bingo on a winning number if it is not called before the next number has been announced.
- Bingo Board - A display board, usually electronic, that "lights up" showing each number as it is called. Also on the board, the number of balls called and the game pattern may also be displayed on what is called the "Game Board."
- Bingo Card - A card containing 24 numbers and a "free space" arranged in a 5x5 square. At the top of each column is the appropriate letter, spelling out B I N G O. Each column has 15 random numbers from its number set. The sets are as follows: B is 1-15, I is 16-30, N is 31-45 G is 46-60, and O is 61-75.
- Bingo Marker - Usually a "dauber." Your marker is used to cover the numbers on the bingo game card. While not every bingo hall requires that a dauber be used as the marker, most do - so check with the hall's rules if you do not plan to use a dauber.
- Blackout - See Coverall
- Blowout - See Quickie
- Bonanza Bingo - A form of "coverall," with a couple of variations. Forty-Five to Forty-eight numbers are called before the regular session begins. If no winner is achieved in 48 numbers, the hall will either progress the number of "calls" (49, 50, etc) each night it is not won or just keep playing the game until there is a winner and award a "consolation prize."
- Breakopen - See Pull Tabs
- Buy-in - See Admission
- Caller - The person who calls out the bingo numbers as they are drawn. The numbers themselves are usually randomly generated by machine blows.
- Callers Choice - A Bingo game that allows the caller to decide what the pattern will be for that game. The game the caller chooses is usually not announced until the game is ready to begin.
- Calls - "Calls" is a short way of saying "Balls called out." Generally you will hear this term in reference to a "jackpot." If a jackpot requires that you win in "54 calls" that means that you can call out bingo any time before, or on, the 54th number called. If nobody wins after 54 calls, then the jackpot progresses to the next week.
- Card - See Bingo Card
- Cash Ball - A "progressive jackpot" that pays off when a Bingo is called, and the cash ball was the last called ball. The Cash Ball is usually drawn before the game begins. Consolation prizes may be given to those who had a bingo even without the cash ball as the last number.
- Chat Room - For those who are playing bingo with their home computer on the internet (known as online bingo), chat rooms provide a great way for players to converse with other bingo players in real-time.
- Consolation Prize - A prize offered that is less in value than the original bingo prize. Consolation prizes are usually given on "Special" games when no winner meets the predetermined guidelines for winning that particular game.
- Cookie Jar - See Lucky Jar
- Coverall - Also known as a "Blackout." A bingo pattern that requires that every number on your card must be called for you to win. Usually Coveralls are won within 50-60 of the 75 numbers, but occasionally you may see them won in the lower 40's.
- Dauber - An ink marker with a foam tip used to mark called numbers on "flimsy" sheets.
- Early Birds - Bingo games played before the start of a regular "session." Usually Early Birds are purchased separately from your normal "admission pack," but some halls merely refer to the first game of the session as their early bird.
- F.O.P. - Fraternal Order of Police (Bingo hall)
- Face - An individual bingo sheet containing 24 numbers and a free space in the middle. For example a pack that has 15 playing areas on one sheet is said to have 15 "faces." See Bingo Card
- Flimsies - Also known as "Throwaways." Bingo cards printed on thin sheets of paper, usually for "special" games. Flimsies usually consist of three cards printed on a single sheet, but flimsies also come in one, two, four, six or 9-card formats. The typical cost of a flimsy is one or two dollars, but generally pays off better than the regular session games.
- Four Corners - A pattern that requires you cover each of the 4 numbers located in the far corners of the card. See our List of Patterns.
- Free Space - The middle square of the bingo card what has no number assigned to it. You get this square free every game.
- G.T.I. - GameTech Inc. - maker of the electronic bingo unit called TED. See T.E.D.
- Game board - An electronic display board, usually part of the "bingo board" unit, that looks like a bingo card and displays the "pattern" of the game currently being played.
- Game Room - For those who are playing bingo with their home computer on the internet (known as online bingo), game rooms are used to divide players into different rooms to play in.
- Hard Card - A bingo card printed on heavy cardboard, usually with shutters to cover each number as it is called. Hard cards are rare to see these days as bingo halls usually opt for "flimsies" or electronic bingo cards (See T.E.D.)
- Hardway Bingo - A pattern that requires your bingo can not include the free space. See our List of Patterns.
- House - "House" is a shorter way of saying "The Bingo Hall."
- Jackpot - A big prize, usually awarded for a "coverall" within a specified number of balls. Sometimes the jackpot is a "Progressive Jackpot," which allows the jackpot to grow each time that it is not won.
- K.O.C. - Knights of Columbus (Bingo hall)
- L.O.O.M. / L.O.T.M. - Loyal Order of the Moose (Bingo hall)
- Lucky Jar - Also known as a "Cookie Jar," it is a container with cash. You can win the Lucky Jar if you bingo on the lucky number. The lucky number is usually the first number called at the beginning of a session. Every time the lucky number is called in a game, money is added to the jar. Usually the Lucky Jar can only be won on "Regular games." A Lucky Jar is not a standard for most halls, so inquire at the hall you are playing at.
- Minimum Buy-In - See Admission
- Money Ball - If a game has a money ball, then a player's winning is doubled if bingo is hit on that number. If a money ball exist, it will be drawn before the game.
- Multiple Winners - If two or more players bingo on the same winning number, the cash prize is divided equally among them, usually with anything under a dollar rounded up. With multiple winners, it does not matter who calls Bingo first.
- Nine-Pack - Also called a "Block of Nine." A pattern that requires you have 9 squares in the shape of a block. See our List of Patterns.
- On - A bingo player is said to be "on" when one or more of their cards need only one more number for a "bingo."
- On The Way - A game is considered "on the way" when the card is used to play a preliminary game on the same sheet that a "coverall" game is played afterwards.
- On's - Not to be confused with "On" above, On's is also a term used to describe how many "faces" are on a sheet. For example if you hear someone say "6 ON" then they mean a sheet that has 6 "faces" to it.
- Pattern - The shape you need to cover on your bingo card using the numbers called out during the game. While the variations of patterns are almost endless, you can See our List of Patterns to view the more common ones.
- Payout - The money paid out in winnings, usually around 75% of what is brought in.
- Postage Stamp - A pattern that has 4 numbers (2x2) in a small square placed in the corner in the shape of a stamp on an envelope. See our List of Patterns.
- Progressive Jackpot - A progressive jackpot is a jackpot that gets bigger each time the jackpot is not won. There are different variations of a progressive jackpot. One variation has the jackpot set at a fixed number of calls, and the dollar amount increases each time it is not won. Another variation uses a fixed jackpot amount, but each jackpot not won increases the number of calls on each game thereafter until it is won. There are some cases, though not as common as either above, that the number of calls and the jackpot amount both increase.
- Pull-Tab (Breakopen) - A multi-ply card with perforated tabs that break open. The game area of the card is concealed to hide the numbers or symbols on the card, for the same reason state lottery cards are concealed. Prizes typically range from free tickets to $500.
- Punchboard - Another lottery-type game where the player "punches" out a slot on the board for a chance to win either cash or merchandise prizes.
- Quickie (Blowout) - A "coverall" game where the numbers are called as quickly as possible.
- Session - A bingo "session" is simply a program of "regular" games played all together. Sessions may contain "Special" games or intermissions throughout the program, with varying game times.
- Shutter Board - See Hard Card
- Six-Pack - Also called a "Block of Six." A pattern that requires you have 6 squares in the shape of a block. See our List of Patterns.
- Special - A game played outside the Regular Session. Usually specials cost an extra dollar or two per game, but they may also have higher prizes than the regular games. Some "Admission Packs" will include a few specials, but typically they are sold on the floor throughout the night.
- Speed Game - See Quickie
- Split Pot - A bingo game in which the winner of the game splits the sales (the pot) with the bingo hall. This may be 50/50, or split differently such as 60% for the player and 40% for the "house."
- T.E.D. - An electronic dauber system made by the company GameTech Inc (G.T.I.). TEDs are preferred by some people to play multiple packs at once. Usually TEDs require a rental fee, and only one unit is allowed per player. Though there are other systems on the market, TED is the most widespread unit sold, so it is worth mentioning.
- Texas Blackout - A variation of "blackout" where the first number called (odd or even) determines that all of the even or all the odd numbers are "wild" and can be marked.
- Throwaways - See Flimsies
- Tickets - These are the primary pages you will use when playing bingo. They come in various sizes and are color coded for each game.
- Up's - The term used to describe how many sheets (pages) come in a book of games. For example if you hear someone say "6 UP" then they mean their game book has 6 different pages, usually all different colors. A term common for bingo halls buying their supplies would be something like "6 ON 10 UP," meaning that they want a book of games, 10 pages thick with 6 "faces" on each sheet.
- V.F.C. - Volunteer Fire Company (Bingo Hall)
- V.F.D. - Volunteer Fire Department (Bingo Hall)
- V.F.W. - Veterans of Foreign Wars (Bingo Halls)
- Warm Up - See Early Bird
- Wild Number - Numbers that are given freely to players. There are different methods that halls use to determine wild numbers. For one such example, let's say that the number 37 is called as the first ball of the game, then all numbers ending in 7 will become wild.
- Winner Take All (WTA) - Usually a "coverall" game, WTA's are games where 100% of the proceeds of that game go to the winner and the house keeps in no money for that one game.
- Wrap up - Usually referred to as the last game of a "session."