This guide gives a quick overview of the two main forms of bingo played around the world. The UK style 90 ball game, and the US style 75 ball game.
It’s Fun No Matter How Many Balls You Have!
Many people in the UK don’t realise that our beloved 90 ball version of the game isn’t the only one out there. The US and Canada have a very different version of bingo, and funnily enough, many of them are as oblivious to the fact we have a different game as well. This is changing, with increasing numbers of people flocking to the game online, exposure to both versions of the game is set to increase.
In this little guide, we’ll have a look at the main differences between the games. Essentially the game play is the same for both versions – a caller picks random numbers and people mark off their tickets until they have the set pattern and then a win. The similarities end there though.
The UK 90 Ball Game
The UK game is played around a 90 ball system. Tickets come in strips, split into 6 tickets. The 6 tickets have numbers that don’t repeat over the 6 tickets. Each ticket has 3 rows, each row with 5 numbers, giving a total of 15 numbers per ticket. Players will generally play any number of tickets between 1 and 6. If they have a strip of 6, they’ll mark every number called – if they have 1 ticket, it’s a one in six chance the number called will be on their ticket.
The game is played for a line across, two lines across (on one ticket) and a full house. This is pretty much it. The numbers are called as straight numbers, and the speed is fairly rapid. Once a line’s gone, you move on to the next prize (two line or the full house).
A UK 90 ball ticket with a full house marked off.
The US Style 75 Ball Game
The US game is played in a very different way. Unlike the UK game, the players have a card per game with 24 (+1 free square) numbers to mark off. Like the UK game, you can play multiple cards – but the numbers don’t run in strips as they do in the UK. Each card is unique.
The numbers are called a lot slower, as people are generally playing multiple cards and have to contend with duplicate numbers on multiple tickets. The numbers are also called with a letter, which corresponds with the column on the card, ie. B1, N41, etc.
The biggest difference is the way the game is won. Whereas in the UK, it’s lines or full houses, in the American version it’s won on patterns (which can include lines). At the start of the game the players are notified of the winning pattern, and then proceed to try and be the first to cover all the numbers on the card that correspond to that pattern. It could be a letter, a symbol, diagonals, or a pattern like the 4 corners or a star.
Like the UK version, there can be multiple wins per game and prizes can be shared on the winning numbers if there are two claims. The closest the US 75 ball version comes to a winning pattern like the UK version is in the coverall game or the horizontal line. In the cover-all game, the winner is the first person to cover every single square on their card – just like the full house on the UK version.
An American bingo ticket