Card Bingo


The name Bingo normally refers to a lottery game in which each player has a card marked up as a grid with numbers. A caller calls numbers chosen by drawing numbered balls or tokens from a supply, or by an electronic randomiser. Players mark any numbers on their cards that are called, and the first player to mark a complete row wins a prize.

It is possible to play a similar game using standard playing-cards, and this page describes several ways to do this.

Basic Game

Two standard 52-card packs without jokers are used. There can be up to ten players and a caller. The caller can be one of the players or do nothing but call cards, as preferred.

From one pack of cards, five cards are dealt to each player, face up. (With eight or fewer players, six cards each can be dealt if preferred.) The caller draws cards one at a time from the other pack and calls out their rank and value - for example "five of diamonds". The holder (if any) of the called card turns it face down. The first player to turn all their cards face down wins. If playing for money, the winner's hand should be checked against the other pack to make sure all its cards have in fact been called.

This game is also known in some places as Bango! or Hoy! according to the word to be shouted by a player to announce that they have won.

Thirteen Card Bingo

By adding more packs of cards it is possible to play the above game with more players and larger hands. I have seen a version played in the Doncaster Whist Club in England by about 60 people. There were four players and a pack of cards at each table, and these were dealt out, thirteen to each player, as for Whist. As in the basic game, the caller calls cards from a separate pack, and the first player whose 13 cards are all called claims a prize.

Bingo without Suits

This is the same as the basic game, except that the caller calls only the rank of the card - "eight", "king", etc., suits being ignored. When a rank is called, players turn down all the cards they hold of that rank. In this version it is possible for two players to win simultaneously. Either they share the prize or you could play that the prize goes to whoever is first to claim a win.

Bingo with Payment for Uncalled Cards

This variant, played in Canada, was described by Cheryle Kaus on the Bingo page of her site. Only one deck of cards is used and suits are ignored. The game is probably best for around 3 to 5 players. Before each deal, each player puts a stake into the pot. Five cards are then dealt face down to each player and ten face down to the middle of the table. Players look at their hands and if any player has four cards of the same rank, all the cards are shuffled and redealt.

The dealer turns the cards in the middle face up one at a time, and the players discard any cards they hold that match the rank of a face-up card in the middle. Players' discards should be kept in front of them so that they can be checked. If the dealer turns up a card of a rank that has already appeared, further cards are turned up from the undealt portion of the deck until a card of a new rank is found (or until the deck runs out).

A player who manages to discard all his or her cards shouts bingo and wins. All players then place one more stake in the pot for each card that they have not discarded, and the winner collects the pot.

If no one wins, the dealer continues turning cards until ten different ranks have been turned up. Each player then pays one stake to the pot for each card they have not discarded, everyone adds another stake for the new deal, and the cards are shuffled and dealt again. Further hands are played until someone wins the pot.

Bingo with a Jackpot

This British variant, reported by Craig Crossland, is played with two 52-card packs without jokers, with a maximum of four players. Suits are ignored in this version.

Before each deal, each player contributes one stake to the main pot and two stakes to the jackpot. The two decks are shuffled together, and the dealer deals 6 cards face down to each player and 12 face down to the "jackpot pile". Cards are dealt one at a time to the players with two placed in the jackpot pile at the end of each rotation.

The dealer turns up cards from the jackpot pile one at a time and calls their ranks. Players discard all cards they hold that are equal in rank to the turned up card. Any player who manages to discard all his or her cards callds "bingo!" and collects the main pot and the jackpot.

If the jackpot pile is exhausted and no one has won, the dealer continues by turning up cards from the undealt portion of the pack and calling their ranks. As before, players discard any cards they hold that are equal to the turned card. A player who discards all his or her cards calls "bingo!" and collects the main pot only. The jackpot remains for the next deal and will have more money added to it.

If the whole pack runs out and no one has called bingo, there is no winner. Both pots are carried over to the next deal with further stake money added by all players.

If two or more players call "bingo!" on the same card, the money from the pot or pots they win is shared equally between them.

Bingo with Betting Rounds

The Wikipedia page on Card Bingo describes a game with poker-like betting rounds. One 52-card pack is used and suits are ignored. The players place an ante and five cards are dealt to each player and five face down to the table. The five table cards are turned face up one at a time, with a betting round before each is exposed. Players discard any cards equal to the turned up card. The first player to discard all five cards wins the pot. If no player achieves this after all five cards have been turned up, the winner is determined by adding up the values of remaining cards in players' hands. Two to ten are face value. Players need to agree in advance:

  • the value of the jack, queen and king - could be 10, 10, 10 or 11, 12, 13;
  • the value of an ace - could be 1, 11 or 15;
  • whether the winner is the player with the highest total card values remaining or the lowest.

High-Low Bingo

This variation was described on Cheryle Kaus' Bingo page. It is similar to the betting game above, but played with two 52-card packs shuffled together and suitable for a larger number of players. A player who discards all five cards calls "bingo!" and wins the whole pot. If no one has declared "bingo!" after the five table cards have been turned up, the pot is split between the highest and lowest value hands, counting picture cards as 10 and aces as 1 for the low hand and 11 for high.

In Cheryle Kaus' version, apparently it is the total value of all five of a player's cards that are counted, so players need to keep their discards in front of them.

Alternatively, it would also be possible to play a similar high-low game in which the discarded cards were lost from the players' hands and only the remaining cards were counted in the high-low competition for the pot.

This page is maintained by John McLeod,   © John McLeod, 2011. Last updated: 31st October 2011