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How to Play Bingo: Beginner´s Guide

Bill Collins
Written by Bill Collins
This guide is suitable for beginner players. Beginner Percentage of users that found this guide helpful. 67% Estimated reading time based on the average reading speed. 9 Min
How to Play Bingo: Beginner´s Guide

BINGO! What can you do to increase your chances of winning when playing in-person sessions? Is it possible to cheat or be cheated at such BINGO games?

Choose the cards you play carefully to increase your chances of winning.

Are you curious to find out how you can play bingo? 

Keep reading to find out the answer to all these questions, and more!

How Do You Play Bingo?

Bingo is a simple casino game that anyone can learn quickly. 

You play the game using a scorecard (called a ¨bingo card¨) that contains 25 squares with numbers on them. 

When the game begins, the announcer calls numbers and you have to mark them down on the card. If you get 5 squares in a row - you win.

Now that you have an idea about how to play bingo, it's time to discover some interesting bingo rules and secrets from expert gambler Bill Collins.

Pro tip

If you want to play online, you can check out our list of bingo casinos and find one that suits your gameplay needs.

Corner Numbers

The corner numbers are the strongest numbers on the card, because you can bingo in three directions from each corner, up and down, across, and diagonally. 

tomatina bingo online

The inside corner numbers (located diagonally between each corner and free spot) can also bingo in three directions. Most other number positions only bingo horizontally and/or vertically.

Each bingo card has four corner numbers, most traditional bingo halls recognize a four-corners bingo and a great percentage of wins seem to come on having four corners on the same card. 

If you get to select the cards you play, try to get a different corner number on every corner of every card you play to have your best chance of getting that all-powerful four-corners bingo. This will help you have the best chances of covering a corner number when a “B” or “O” column number is called.


Proper corner number selection on cards is the key to winning where we play. Everybody fights for cards with their favorite numbers in those corners.

Free Space (In the middle of the card)

The free space makes it possible to get a four-number, straight-line bingo four different ways: 

  • vertically down the “N” column;
  • horizontally;
  • across the middle;
  • diagonally from corner to corner in both directions.

To increase your chances to win with just a four-number straight-line bingo down the “N” column, the only column that affords you this opportunity, you want to try to make sure that you have at least one of each of the fifteen numbers (16 thru 30) that make up that column’s number. 

That way, you will be covering one number on your cards each time a number in the “N” column is called. If you don’t have the “N” numbers being called, other players that have them will leave you in the dust while you wait for your “N” numbers to come.

Key Takeaway

Bingo would be a much fairer game for everyone if the free space in the middle of the card wasn't there and was replaced with an additional number.

Weak Number Spots on Your Bingo Cards

On a bingo card, there are 8 positions for numbers that I refer to as "weak numbers" because you can only bingo using those weak positions by getting a five-number bingo, instead of the quicker four-number bingo? 

Those weak spots are located in the “B” column and the “O” column, just below the top corner number and just above the bottom corner number. 

The top row of each card has weak spots located just inside each corner number, as does the bottom row.

Having a hotly-called number in a "weak number" position, isn't much better than not having that number at all. Someone will probably get a four-number bingo through the free middle space or on the four corners before you get your five-number bingo.

Every other position on the card can make a four-number bingo in at least one direction: vertical line, horizontal line, or diagonal. 


If a corner cluster (four numbers clustered in one corner), is recognized as a win, that gives a little more strength to the “weak number” positions; because those numbers can then contribute to you getting a corner-cluster bingo.

Is it Possible to Cheat, or Be Cheated, at an In-person Bingo Session?

Six decades ago, when I was a young teen, I went to our county fair and walked the midway for a while. I was drawn to a tent with a bingo game going on, mainly because of a beautiful young girl standing there watching the action.

I stood beside her. There was a young guy working inside the booth that had noticed this beauty, too. 

When she looked like she was ready to leave he picked up a few bingo cards from under a table and handed them to her without making her pay for them.

"Here, play these," he whispered..."you'll win." He didn't want to see him leave. She sat down and played the cards he had given her and she won and she won.

That's how I first learned how to play bingo and that it can actually be cheated, and I've never forgotten it.

Bingo Machines - How Do They Work?

If the caller uses one of those glass or mesh-steel-sided air-blown ping pong ball number mixers when they drop the ping pong balls with the numbers that were called that game back into the hopper to start a new game.

muertitos bingo online machine

Those balls are usually then positioned on top of the ones that didn't get called--so they are more likely to get called again the next game, as one ball gets sucked up from the center of the grouping of balls each time.

I've also noticed that the corners of these commercial machines they use to mix the balls are square and that some balls can get stuck in those corners, out of the airflow that blows the ball around until one gets sucked up in the tube by vacuum pressure in the middle of the unit. 

That number in the corner then never gets called.

Also, if the caller is in cahoots with one of the players and can see what number she needs to bingo, or knows what her favorite corner numbers are, the caller can call that number instead of another number she drew out of the machine from that same column, if she doesn't have to show the number on the ball as each number is called.

Fun fact

Online gambling has revolutionized the way people play bingo. Nowadays, there are several online casinos that offer bingo games that have all sorts of rules and play patterns. Check out our bingo games collection to try them for free.

Altered Bingo Cards

My wife and I have been playing bingo at a local Senior Citizen's center, where there are usually from 50 to 70 players playing, with Finger Tip bingo cards locked up in a storage cabinet between sessions.

I know of one woman there who asked the person running the bingo, whether or not she could go online and buy her own bingo cards to play, since she was disabled in one arm. (I don't know what that had to do with it?)

She did buy them and brings them every time, playing the same cards. They are painted on the back for some reason.

She told us about being allowed to buy and use her own cards.

What I see wrong with this is that it is possible to split the cards apart, at home, and rearrange the numbers on them to your liking, with all your favorite numbers in the powerful corners of the cards. Then you'd just glue the front and back of the cards together again.

I know from experience that it is possible to get every single different bingo number on only six cards, (see photo that shows this), if I have the time to handpick them before play, or if I had the chance to alter them. 

Not an easy trick, but possible to get close to perfectly set-up cards. 

And having all the numbers in key spots on the cards means that you are way ahead of the crowd right out of the gate, because you will always be moving towards an early bingo when every number is called.

Card Packs at Big Money Bingo Sessions

I have wondered about big money bingo, where you spend major bucks to play and they hand you a sealed pack of cards to play.

Do they have a way of knowing which packs have the most likely to win cards inside, with the most widely distributed numbers on them? 

So that they can pass them out to a shill to win with, so that they don't have to give out that giant $1,000 or $10,000 jackpot to a real winner?

Friendly Cahoots

At the Senior Center where we play, a neighboring bingo player calls out your numbers when you bingo. 

Under those conditions, if the two were in cahoots. the one calling the number could call out a good number under a letter, even if the other player didn't have that number so that they could claim their bingo.

Final Thoughts

This marks the end of our how to play bingo guide.

As you can see, there are several things you can do to up your chances of winning at in-person casino games. 

And there are ways to cheat or be cheated while playing bingo there. 

We wish you many BINGOs!

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Bill Collins

Bill Collins

Professional Craps Player

About Bill Collins

  • Over 2 decades of triumphant experience in the game of craps, with a winning streak since 2003;
  • Noted author of the acclaimed craps novel, "Vegas Fever";
  • Proficient Craps writer, with a wide range of published articles;
  • Administrator of the popular Facebook group "Craps Crusher", which has 4.3k+ members, sharing daily insights into successful craps strategies.

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