The 7 Best Bingo Sets
This wiki has been updated 16 times since it was first published in April of 2016. If you're looking for the ideal activity for your upcoming fundraiser, a nursing home event or even family game night, you can't go wrong with this classic. Our selection of bingo sets will let you generate all the tension and excitement of a professional game, and include everything you need to play, except, of course, the prizes. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki. Skip to the best bingo set on Amazon.
A Brief History Of Bingo
Gambling on it was extremely popular, and Lowe was approached by someone who wanted a cut of the action: a priest from Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.
You might think that old ladies screaming at each other every week is something that dates back to time immemorial, but bingo — or its predecessors, anyway — is only a few hundred years old.
Its origins date back to Italy in the year 1530, when the country's national lottery was organized. It involved players using cards with numbered squares on them, and corresponding numbers being drawn out of a sack — sound familiar?
The game was played regionally over the next few centuries, and an American named Hugh J. Ward started taking the game around carnivals in the Pittsburgh area in the early 1920s. He even went so far to copyright it and publish a rulebook, but he never got rich off of it. As a result, a toy salesman named Edwin S. Lowe took the game — now called "Beano" — and mass-produced it in New York.
How "Beano" ended up as "Bingo" is a bit of a mystery, but it's believed that it resulted from an over-eager winner getting the name wrong. Regardless, it stuck, and the name Beano is now reserved for gas pain products.
Lowe made a good chunk of change off of his game, but he made one mistake that cost him millions: he never trademarked it. It then fell into the public domain, and imitators took its success and ran with it. However, Lowe wasn't done altering the future of the game quite yet. Gambling on it was extremely popular, and Lowe was approached by someone who wanted a cut of the action: a priest from Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.
The holy man had a parish that was in financial trouble, and he recognized the fundraising potential of the game. There was only one problem, though, and that was that the games tended to have multiple winners.
Lowe sought out a math professor from Columbia named Carl Leffler, who created cards with non-repeating number groups. Once Leffler completed the project, the game spread like wildfire among churches and other charitable groups. In many states with anti-gambling laws, bingo was exempted, so many people were able to get their fix at weekly games held in parishes and nursing homes.
Today, it's estimated that somewhere around $90 million is spent per week on bingo in North America alone, making it one of the most lucrative games on the planet. Everyone from kids to senior citizens can play, and only one thing remains constant: Granny will absolutely cut you if you call out "bingo" before she does.
How To Run Your Own Bingo Game
If you're hoping to get your own game up and running, whether to raise money or just to have some fun, there are some things you should know that will help you see to it that everything goes smoothly.
If you're trying to use bingo as a fundraiser, you should probably check with your local authorities to make sure that it's kosher before you begin. After all, nothing can shut down a PTA event quite like getting raided by the local SWAT team. Some jurisdictions require you to get permits, while others only allow players to win prizes rather than money.
And if you don't, well...there will be lots of little old ladies who are eager to smash you.
Also, be sure to advertise ahead of time. Send out fliers or post signs at least two weeks before the big night, and make sure that it doesn't coincide with any holidays or other special events.
If you have to give out prizes in lieu of cash, try to find some gifts that people will be excited to win. Don't dampen someone's big moment by handing them something lame, like a used VCR or something (unless that's part of the fun and the crowd knows it ahead of time).
While you have people in one place and in the mood to gamble, it's a good idea to run other games at the same time. Have someone sell raffle tickets or pull tabs, and kill two birds with one stone (but definitely check your local laws regarding the pull tabs, as they're more heavily regulated than bingo). Running a concession stand is also a smart idea.
If you take a little time and do your prep work, your game night should be a smashing success. And if you don't, well...there will be lots of little old ladies who are eager to smash you.
Tips To Boost Your Chances Of Winning
While bingo is a game of chance, that doesn't mean that there aren't things you can do to boost your odds of winning.
The first thing you can do is obvious: play at a time when there are fewer players, and buy more tickets. If you have more cards than anyone else, you'll have a better chance of winning — provided you can keep up with them all, of course.
Beyond that, there are more advanced — some might even say fanatical — strategies you can employ.
Furthermore, you should aspire to not have too many numbers that end in the same digit.
One is known as Granville's strategy, and it originates in the stock market. The idea is that, over time, there will be a relatively even balance of odd and even numbers called, as well as an equal amount of high and low numbers picked. Thus, you should aim to have an equal mix of high and low numbers, as well as even and odd. Furthermore, you should aspire to not have too many numbers that end in the same digit.
Another option is the Tippett strategy, which was conceived by a British statistician who had nothing better to do than to try to cheat at bingo. His theory is that, the longer the game is, the more likely it is that numbers will have a median number of 38, so you should try to get cards in that number range. Conversely, in shorter games, you should stick to digits closer to 1 or 75.
Ultimately, though, the most effective strategy will likely be to talk to your fellow players as much as possible, in the hopes that it will distract them and force them to miss a bingo.
Hey, we never said we played fair.
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