How to play bingo: the rules explained

We break down how to play bingo - one of Britain's most-loved games

Two woman sitting at a table in a bingo hall
(Image credit: AFP via Getty Images)

Wondering how to play bingo? We break down the rules of bingo for you. Eyes down, daubers at the ready!

Modern bingo, the game of chance, was invented decades ago and has been loved for generations. Over three million Brits play at least twice a week. You might think that Bingo is just a pastime for pensioners – but don’t knock it until you’ve tried it! Nowadays, bingo is a fast-paced game that’s a lot of fun, too - and there are many different types of bingo games to enjoy.

How to play bingo: the rules explained

Bingo is all about probability. Each bingo player is given a card made up of a random set of 15 numbers between 1-90. The numbers are arranged on a card or ticket with 27 spaces. 12 spaces are left blank. The aim is to match numbers as follows:

  • Four Corners – Each number in the four corners of the ticket.
  • Line – a horizontal line of five numbers.
  • Two Lines – two horizontal lines of five numbers.
  • Full House – covering all the numbers on the ticket.

Each game has a bingo caller whose role it is to select the numbers. The bingo caller calls out numbers (between 1-90) that are randomly selected either by a computer, a random number generator or using a mechanical draw machine. Some bingo callers may still draw numbers from a bag, like they would have when bingo began. However, this is not the method of choice for most professional bingo halls in 2020.

Once a number is selected, the bingo caller “calls” the number, often using a range of traditional bingo calls or modern and funny bingo calls, which regular players get familiar with over time.

Should the player see that number on their card, they “daub” the ticket – or mark off the number – using a bingo “dauber”. A bingo dauber is a large felt tip pen with a circular head. Some bingo halls have now computerised this process. If you’re playing online bingo, there will be an automatic bingo-daubing process.

As soon as you have marked enough numbers to win a prize – rules may vary by hall or game – you shout “Bingo” as loudly as you can, to get the bingo caller’s attention. You must shout bingo before the next number is called or you miss out on your chance to win.

How to play bingo online

Online bingo is easier than real life bingo in many ways and is a great alternative if you're unable to get to the bingo halls. Playing online bingo is simple. Just find a bingo or slot game you like the look of and choose the number of tickets you'd like to buy. A lot of games cost as little as 1p a ticket so a newbie like yourself might like to give them a go first. The bingo numbers are called out, and your ticket will be automatically daubed by your computer, so you never need to worry about missing a number!

Where to play online bingo 

Ready to play online but wondering which bingo sites are best? There are so many sites out there to chose from, so we've picked two of our favourites for you to make the choice easier!


Pick Me Up! Bingo: Add £10,play with £25 plus 50 free spins

Why Pick Me Up! Bingo?  Having re-launched in 2020, this site offers players a great range of bingo and slot games, including some big-name slots. There's chat rooms and regular promotions on site too.

New players only. Valid until further notice. Min dep £10. 150% Bingo Bonus [BB] up to £50 + 50 Free Spins [FS] on Reel Rush (split over 2 days; valid for 3 days respectively; no wins cap). FS wins granted in Games Bonus [GB] & valid on selected games only. WR: 4x (dep+BB); 85x GB. GB wins cap: £100 + initial bonus. UK: deposit balance can be withdrawn at any time. 18+. Full T&C apply. Please Play Responsibly. BeGambleAware.Org 


Chat Mag Bingo: Add £10 play with £40*

Why Chat Mag Bingo?  It's the official bingo site of real-life magazine Chat, and is host to well over 600 games, with new games dropping regularly.  You can play from the comfort of your sofa, on your smartphone or laptop.

*New players only. Valid until further notice. Min dep £10. 200% Bingo Bonus [BB] max £20 + 100% Game Bonus [GB] max £10. WR: 4x (dep+BB); 50x (dep+GB). WR vary by game. GB valid on selected games only. GB wins cap: £100 + initial bonus. UK: deposit balance can be withdrawn at any time. 18+. Full T&C apply. Please Play Responsibly. BeGambleAware.Org 

Editor in Chief

Anna Bailey has been the editor of GoodtoKnow since 2018. Before joining the team she was Features Editor at MSN UK, where she oversaw Family Health and Days Out. Previously, she was Digital Lifestyle Editor for the broadcaster UKTV, and Lifestyle Editor for Anna studied Multi-Media Journalism at Bournemouth University and went on to gain her NCTJ and NCE journalism qualifications. Anna is responsible for driving the direction and editorial strategy of Goodto. A mum and experienced baby product tester, she is passionate about providing safe, trustworthy, and relatable advice for families of all kinds.