How to play bingo: the rules explained

(Image credit: AFP via Getty Images)

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

Modern bingo, the game of chance, was invented decades ago (opens in new tab) 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 (opens in new tab) 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 (opens in new tab) or modern and funny bingo calls (opens in new tab), 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 online bingo

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!

Play online bingo

Ready to play online but wondering which bingo sites are best? (opens in new tab) 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!

(opens in new tab)
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 

(opens in new tab)
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 

Charlotte Gunn
Charlotte Gunn

Charlotte is founder and Editorial Director of The Forty-Five. The former NME Editor has written for, The Face, Red and Marie Claire. With 15 years experience in journalism Charlotte has covered most bases when it comes to content people want to consume.