Bingo is a universally played game, with people of all parts of the world playing slightly different versions. The basic premise of bingo is the same wherever you go, and that is to cover or mark out a set pattern of numbers on a square card as the host or “caller” calls them out. Upon completing this pattern the player yells out “BINGO” and verifies the card. They then win the game.


The bingo card is divided into a grid with the letters B I N G O forming the column headings. There is a free space in the square in the centre of the grid that is considered as marked. Under each letter is a number. Numbers can only be found under one column, which means there can only be a B3 or an O70 and never an O3 or a B70. The caller has a series of balls or chips that have the unique letter number combination printed on them. The caller draws a ball or chip and reads the letter number combination. If the player has that particular letter number combination they place a chip or a stamp or other mark over that square. The first player to match the pattern pre-set at the beginning yells out “BINGO”. The player then calls out the numbers they have marked off and verifies a bingo with the caller. As soon as this is confirmed the player receives the prize. The game can either stop at that time and a new one start up or a different pattern is set and the game continues.


Some of the most common patterns are:

  • Horizontal – a straight line horizontally across the card which may include the free square
  • Vertical – any straight line vertically down the card. The free square may be used on this pattern as well.
  • Diagonal – any straight diagonal (corner to corner) line making one of the arms of an X on the card. This pattern must, by definition, include the free square.
  • Cross – basically a double diagonal. The pattern will look like a full X on the grid.
  • Four Corners – each of the four corners on the card are marked off.
  • Large Frame – the complete outside rows and columns are marked off to make a large frame of the card.
  • Blackout – all the squares on the complete grid are covered or marked out.

Many local variations and patterns exist so before playing make sure to understand what pattern is being filled.