The grannies finally did the ultimate grandma thing and went out to play Bingo! Denise, Stacy, Noel and I went to Friday night bingo at the St. Helen School in the Ukrainian Village. We realized very quickly that Bingo is SERIOUS business. I especially enjoy Noel's take on us entering the church's auditorium:
"Amateur was written across our foreheads as we stumbled in late, showed up with no good luck trolls, no ink dobber, and not nearly enough cash to keep us afloat for the whole night. Luckily, the head bingo man (his name escapes me now) was super welcoming to us. He went over the basic rules (um, laugh if you want, but it can be more complex than you think!) and he also gave us a free ink dobber."
Even though we strolled in late and only got a half board it was loads of fun. None of us won, but Denise was very close to taking home the $500 prize on the coverall game (the very last one of the night).That one evening got us all hooked and we are already making plans to go back for more!
We were lucky enough to have a really nice lady sitting in front of us that was more than happy to help us as we bumbled our way through the games. Here is what we learned:
• Only one person per game sheet. They see it as cheating if you have more than one person marking a board. It is all about speed, so having more than one set of eyes gives you an advantage.
• It's not just B-I-N-G-O anymore. Bingo nights consist of a series of games and to keep it interesting, they don't just have you get BINGO in a row. The place we went to had a light -up board that kept track of the numbers called on one side and showed you the pattern you had to keep track of on the other. So, for example, the game we walked in on had you matching the shape of a "7," with the top row filled and a diagonal from right to left. There is also four corners where you try to cover the corners, leaving the center "+" blank. The last game we played was a cover all, where you...well, cover the whole BINGO board.
• Wild numbers. For one of the games the caller started spewing out a series of numbers, leaving us confused. Turns out he pulled one ball before the start of the game that gave you a series of wild numbers. For our game he pulled a "13," so all numbers ending in "3" were wild. They give you a few minutes to mark all of these on your boards - you get these numbers for "free."
• Pay attention to when doors open. The place we went to said doors open at 4, game starts at 7. We thought this meant we had to be there at 7 or a little after. Not at all. People get there early to get a good seat and chat before hand. The game starts promptly at 7 and you are really busy concentrating on your game to chit chat during. We were really lucky that a woman was saving primo seats for some friends that never showed-up, so we were able to nab them.
• No trolls required. If you don't have a dobber or trolls or any of that, don't worry. These places sell the dobbers, which are necessary to play the game and keep up with the rate the numbers are called. We didn't see one troll during our games, so don't be concerned about that type of crowd.
• Bring cash. It depends where you go and how big of a board you buy, but the game can range you from $13- $35. Keep that in mind before going and stop at the bank before you get there. There are also refreshments to be had and a side game that goes on called "pull-tab," which normally sells for a $1 a piece. You have a small chance at winning with these pull-tab things, but the place we went to called out serial numbers toward the end of the game and gave out money with that. So it seemed that many were buying them for that way of winning.
So with that, I will say that you should definitely check out any local Bingo games happening in your neighborhood and bring a group. Just make sure to show-up early to get a good seat!