What Are the Odds of Winning in Bingo?
While specific game rules can change things, the odds of winning a bingo game are relatively easy to calculate. In most cases, all you need to do is divide the number of cards you’re playing (usually 1) by the total number of cards in play.
The Quick Math Behind the Rules
Bingo guarantees a winner every time you play, assuming no interruptions. The question is mainly how many calls it takes to get the winner, not whether it will happen. Bingo is so heavily randomised that every card in play has a more-or-less equal chance of winning each game.
The number of calls it takes to win a full house—completing every number on a board and ending the round for everyone—varies slightly depending on the number of players. On average, most games will take between 40 and 85 calls to reach a full house, with typical games running 60 to 70 calls regardless of the number of players.
The odds of a game ending sooner go up with more players, but eventually, this stops making much of a statistical difference.
In other words, bingo is an entirely fair, randomised game where you have the same chance to win as every other player.
Swaying The Odds
The only realistic way to sway the odds of playing bingo in your favour is to play more cards simultaneously. If you’re playing six out of a hundred cards in play instead of one, then you’re six times more likely to win.
Many places let you play more than one card at a time, but it can take a lot of player skill to keep up with the caller while managing multiple cards. It may be better to wait until you’re comfortable with the game and only expand into additional cards once you feel comfortable.
Buying Bingo Cards
Many locations sell bingo cards on a piece of paper with six tickets printed, and you use the whole sheet during the round. Each ticket has fifteen of the ninety numbers in play, so every number is on the paper, and you can mark something off with each call.
Games usually run to three winners: the first people to get a single line, two lines, and a full house each receive a share of the prize money. Having multiple winners doesn’t affect your odds of winning a specific game, but it does mean winners tend to appear frequently throughout the night.
While the odds of winning in bingo are statistically average when players have the same number of cards, one other factor can affect things: your jackpot type. 90 Ball Bingo has two common jackpots and one rarer option, each of which affects the odds in different ways.
Fixed jackpots are the most common option. In this setup, the organisers offer a predetermined jackpot for each game, usually the same amount throughout the night. The prize is standard regardless of the number of players or the price of tickets. If there’s a tie, winning players must split it evenly.
This jackpot is the most predictable option for everyone involved. Although it’s often not as exciting as the other options, some people prefer having a clear goal without constantly recalculating their expenses and expected results throughout the night.
Progressive jackpots work a little differently in bingo than how they function in games that may not have a winner. Since winners happen every round, if they gave out the whole pot every game, it couldn’t grow. The rules for a progressive jackpot can vary by location, so make sure to read their rules carefully before you play.
In most cases, though, progressive jackpots pay out a set percentage of the total pot based on the total numbers called before someone gets a full house. So an exceptionally low amount, like 32 calls, may have a majority of the pot handed out, while more average games may pay out less than a single per cent of what the jackpot holds.
Progressive jackpots can get quite large over time. However, they tend to attract more players when the prize is high, which reduces each participant’s chance of winning. In addition, progressive games aren’t as stable as a fixed jackpot, so keep that in mind if you want to pursue the big prize.
Escalator jackpots are relatively rare because they don’t pay out in the same way as fixed and progressive games, which many people prefer.
In this format, players must get a full house in less than the current ball limit to win the escalator. The ball limit usually starts low, so it’s extraordinarily unlikely to happen before slowly increasing until someone claims the whole thing.
Escalator games can have a fixed payout per game, but this is usually lower than in games that only have fixed prizes because most of the money goes into the escalator. The growing chance of victory encourages regular participation because the escalator can theoretically stop at any time.
Online Bingo Odds
The odds for online bingo are generally similar to in-person bingo, especially on our favourite sites like Glitter Bingo and Robin Hood Bingo. Online games tend to have more players than in-person locations, so payouts can be significantly higher.
To manage this, online games sometimes split people into digital rooms and give a percentage of a larger overall pot rather than keeping everyone together. Each place has its own rules, so it’s essential to read the rules for each one before you decide where to go.
For help with that, check out our full list of high-quality bingo sites.
Reputable bingo games are a fair and fun way to enjoy yourself. There’s no true way to get better at bingo other than marking your card a little faster.
So, whether you’re an experienced player or a newcomer looking to get into some casual games, you can trust that you have roughly even odds of winning no matter when or where you play.
Last updated: Jan 24, 2023