So, you’ve been tasked with arranging a night out for work, everyone knows you enjoy the odd game of bingo and you have decided it should be a bingo night. What do you need to bear in mind to make the night go with a bang?
The Key To Success: Preparation
Your colleagues are looking to you to arrange a bingo night out. Where do you start? Like anything you want to go well, preparation is the key and a bit of planning can help you to arrange a memorable night.
Firstly, don’t leave it till the last minute. With bingo, some things need to be sorted out well in advance. The first thing you’ll need to do is ascertain the knowledge levels of the people in your care. Another thing to remember is the size of the group.
Unless it’s a super club, most halls will struggle to hold massive unexpected parties of people. The average 700 seater hall would probably best suit a group of no bigger than 20 (in my opinion.) This is not a hard and fast rule! You can go bigger by all means, but if it’s a large group, it’s worth contacting the hall directly and speaking to the manager.
The rest of this will apply to a group of around 16-20 with little previous experience. The principles are the same for bigger and smaller groups but this is the size and experience level I’ve had the most experience with.
Firstly, Get Them In The Club
Start by getting a rough estimate of numbers and check levels of competence. The most I’ve had to deal with is 16 novices to 1 expert (myself!) The chances are that no one will be a member of the club you intend to play at, so get them all a membership application to fill in, as it makes life easier if they are all members – you have to be a member to play in most of the big clubs, plus you need to have applied before the day you intend to play in many cases.
Some clubs allow you to apply for membership online, so this can be an easy way to do it. Failing that, you can call in the club and pick up forms yourself. This is a good time to talk to management about your plans, as it can pay handsomely down the line, more on which later. More switched on clubs will also have an email address from where to contact management and discuss plans. Online is a good place to start your research.
Either way, if you make sure everyone is a card carrying member well in advance, then it makes life a lot easier. Collect their forms, email them to people to do them, whatever it takes to get the job done!
Research Your Chosen Club
It’s a good idea to find out the times of the sessions and if you want to be ultra efficient, check to see which nights are quieter. It can be easier for a big group to fit into the club on a quiet night in the club, plus management will be able to give a more personal approach to a fresh batch of new blood.
Arrange a time well in advance of the first session to be there: it gives everyone a chance to settle in, get their books, figure out what’s going on and get the beers in. You will also be greeted with a barrage of questions by excited colleagues, so if you know what times they begin, what games are played first and all that stuff, it makes your life easier.
On The Night
So, you’ve researched the club, prepped your colleagues by printing them off, or sending them a link to our Beginners Guide To Playing Bingo. You’ve set a time and got everyone memberships – the next step can be a tricky one and demand some sneaky tactics. That’s getting them all sat together in the club.
Bingo clubs never reserve tables for people, not even groups or parties. This means you need to seat everyone together. If you are early you should be able to get a block of tables together. However, it may not be convenient for everyone to be there early. This means you will need to keep tables.
Most clubs have tables of 4. If you want to ensure your seats are all together, work out how many tables you need. Let’s say 20 people. That means 5 tables. You will need to keep these tables. The most efficient way to do this is to arrange for 5 people to arrive early enough to each keep a table for the latecomers.
If you’re desperate you can leave stuff on the tables to give the impression they’re taken. Whilst management will frown on such practices, most seasoned players will observe the unspoken language of table keeping. However, some will demand justice so you may lose a table if people are really late. There’s not much you can do about this other than ensure people are there early enough to all sit together.
With everyone seated, remind them all of the start time and tell them to make sure they’ve got all their books and drinks etc. in good time for eyes down. Expect lots of questions and worried looks during this period. It can be good fun as well as being the ‘expert’ for your colleagues. This is not the role for shrinking violets!
Eyes Down, Time To Play The Main Games
Listen out for the announcements of when the main games begin. Have everyone on the right page and ready to go. If there are friendly regulars you can ask them just to keep an eye out on the people on the table next to them.
Now, it’s fair to say that you’re there to play as well, so once the games are underway, you’ll have to leave people to fend for themselves for a bit. Invariably, as the first line is called, you’ll get a deluge of questions. Try to do your bit but listen out for the caller to continue. People will soon start to get the hang of it and you can give them more detail in the interval.
Be prepared to stop the game if people aren’t up to speed. A quick friendly shout of ‘hang-on!’ within the first few calls of the game will get a groan from the regulars, but it’ll give you a chance to make sure everyone’s in the right place (quickly) – shout thanks when they’re sorted to get the game rolling again.
Common Mistakes And Things To Watch For
Here are a few things to look out for as the night and bingo games progress. Potential problems can be easily solved if you know what to look for and spot them early, so for your aid, here are some common problems to look out for.
As already mention in Part 2, you’re there as much to have fun, and if you’ve bought your books you should get your money’s worth out of playing. You can’t expect to keep an eye on everyone all the time. They are grown adults (in theory) so will need to take responsibility for themselves. However, everyone can help out to solve some of the common problems that happen.
Missing Pages And Numbers Out
At the start of each game, do a quick verbal check. Let them all know what page and book, and get everyone to check everyone else. If someone gets confused and the game’s about to start, hold it up until they’re sorted.
If someone has missed a page, there is little you can do. They may need to re-play a page they’ve already marked. Suggest more than one pen (preferably one light for standard play and one dark should they need to re-mark.)
Missing numbers called is another problem that’s likely to occur. If it’s before the line is called, you can ask the caller for a recall: they’ll quickly go through the numbers called. If there are more than 15 or 20 numbers out, the caller may refuse.
It may be a good idea to also tell people about the screens around the hall. There will be a big screen with all the numbers called on as well as the current number screens dotted around the place.
If they’re quick, and they get down to one or two numbers to a win, they can look at the numbers called and see if they have any there. It’s not practical to check every ticket in this manner, but if you get close to a win and feel like you’ve missed a number, a quick check can help.
New players can often feel a bit timid, so keep an ear out for your locality. If you hear a familiar voice utter a weedy shout of ‘house’ – shout as well but much louder. Don’t hesitate though as you could miss the claim.
Instil in everyone the importance of shouting loud and shouting fast. It’s better they make a false claim than no claim at all.
You’ll always get a false call when you have a bunch of novices with you. One common error is once the line has been called they’ll call when they get a line. Just quickly check they all realise this is not the case. However, as irritating as a false call is for the regulars, who’ll groan, it’s better than missing out. Fear not.
Often you may find some people give up, or lose interest in the game, or didn’t buy tickets to start with. These can be a problem if they start distracting people during the games, or worse still, start talking during games. There is no foolproof method of dealing with this, but ask them to behave and have consideration for everyone else as a starting point. After that, who knows!
You’d be surprised how many people don’t realise that the numbers run in columns. 1-9 in one, 10-19 in the next, etc. This can hamper their game play, so show them the technique for scanning up and down columns as the numbers are called. As obvious as it seems, some people miss that point completely.
Well, touch wood it’s all gone swimmingly. It’s a lot of hard work to get people to the hall and playing. If it all goes well that can be a reward in itself.
However, other benefits can be scored on occasion – although this is not guaranteed. If you’ve been in contact with the manager, and he realises the importance of a batch of new and fresh customers, he may lay some special treats on for your group.
Freebies For The Players
In the past I’ve been given free bottles of bingo bubbly for everyone. Bingo bubbly is essentially perry, but is often given away free at clubs as prizes or offers. A couple of bottles on the table can quickly lubricate new guests and make the experience even more enjoyable.
They may be able to lay on some other special touches like welcome packs, vouchers or some decorations for the table. If you choose a special night then there can be gifts just for walking through the doors (to entice members on quieter nights).
One bingo night outing, everyone in the group was awarded a set of Christmas themed bingo dabbers in a carry case as we signed in to the club. It’s not a massive thing, but it’s the kind of little touch that often leaves good impressions on the minds of people new to the world of bingo.
A Win Or Two
Now, it’s what we’re all there for – it’s far from guaranteed, but just the thing to instantly hook the new player. Unfortunately there’s no way to make it happen other than good luck, but if one of your group wins a good prize, everyone suddenly feels the need to come back very soon.
It could even be that the bingo gods smile on you for bringing them fresh meat – every time I’ve taken a group to a night I’ve also had a shout and won some money (much to everyone’s consternation.) However, we would like to point out that there is no evidence to say this was the work of the bingo gods, and nothing more than mere fluke.
It can be a lot of faff and worry getting a bingo night sorted out. As you’ve no doubt seen, there’s lots of little things you need to consider and think about when you set the night up. With these things accounted for, you should be in for a fun night.
In my experience, a lot of the people you take will end up wanting to go again and thank you for arranging it all. The reward of knowing you got them all there, got them playing and showed them a new world they never knew existed is what you get out of the night. It’s not a win on the national kind of reward, but a sense of satisfaction none the less.