Who is the best bingo player in the world?
Answering that one is easy: Nobody is!
No, really. In a fair game, a player can’t have a skill-based advantage over anyone else. You can only be better at bingo in the sense of marking cards off faster, but even that’s become less important with the advent of digital bingo sites.
Let’s take a closer look at the math and ideas behind this.
Game Theory: Determinism and Non-Determinism
Most games are either deterministic or non-deterministic.
Chess is a near-perfectly deterministic game. Every player has complete knowledge of the game board, including all possible actions their opponent may take. The only thing that might be randomness in a game of chess is deciding who goes first.
At higher levels of gameplay, a chess player’s ability to predict moves and determine what their opponent is more likely to do can make them a better player. This is why experienced chess players can dominate new players with seemingly little effort, but playing against other experienced players can be a closer match.
Non-deterministic games are those with randomised outcomes. The more random a game is, the less a player’s skill usually matters, although there are cases when excellent skill can tilt the final result.
Bingo is a heavily non-deterministic game. Each ticket of bingo numbers is randomised and British bingo has approximately 24 quadrillion unique cards. Chances are you’ll never see the same card twice, even if you play all your life. If a player could choose the numbers on their card, it wouldn’t help them.
Outside of tickets being random, the order of calling numbers is also randomised. There is no way to predict if tickets are good or bad based on the numbers they have. Furthermore, there’s no point where player skill truly comes in other than perhaps calling out “bingo” fast enough.
This means that before a game starts, every ticket in the game has a mathematically equal chance of winning. Assuming there’s no cheating going on, a player who could choose the numbers on their ticket would have no advantage over a player who received them randomly.
So, who is the best bingo player in the world? Game theory tells us that not only is there no best player in bingo, but the nature of the game makes it fundamentally impossible for any player to be better in a meaningful way.
This is one of the reasons that many people love bingo. It doesn’t matter if you’re a twenty-year veteran or just sitting down for your first game. Each ticket has a fair and equal chance of winning.
Game Theory and AI
Some people use artificial intelligence to try and figure out the best way to play games. For now, the conclusions are that perfection is unobtainable for nondeterministic games, and the uncertainty makes it harder to assign values to actions.
Non-deterministic games like bingo are essentially outside this field because the player has no meaningful way to control the game.
Game theory proves that nobody is fundamentally better at playing bingo, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to be better at betting and earning money from playing. Here’s what’s going on with online games.
As a general principle, betting on bingo games is a sliding scale between the likelihood of success and the size of potential rewards. If you have a higher chance of winning, you won’t win as much.
Winning at Bingo
Before a game, we can calculate a player’s chance of success through the equation n / x, where n is the number of tickets a player has and x is the total number of tickets in the game. This equation works because each ticket is equally likely to win.
If ten players buy ten tickets each for an online game, then each player has a ten per cent chance of winning. If one hundred players buy ten tickets each, they have a one per cent chance of winning because each player has the same number of tickets.
Finding games with fewer players will, statistically, result in more victories over time. It’s always possible to have a streak of wins or losses that go against the average, but in the long run, bingo is so randomised that the trends will always return to the average.
The alternative to winning more often is trying to take a larger prize home. Bingo games have several ways of setting prizes, but one of the most popular options for online games is the progressive jackpot.
In progressive jackpots, a set amount of ticket sales go into a prize pool. Players can earn a fraction of the pot depending on how fast they win the game. With an average victory, which is usually between fifty and sixty number calls, the prizes aren’t very high. However, winning much faster than average can get you a drastically larger reward.
Progressive jackpots tend to grow in size because they take a long time to hit a major payout. Odds will vary depending on the rules, but it’s common for the best payout to be a 1:100,000,000 result.
For context, a royal flush in poker (the highest possible hand) is 1:649,739.
Since it can take quite a few thousand tickets to get even a moderate result from a progressive jackpot, never mind a big winning, most people don’t pay as much attention when the pot is smaller. However, as the pot grows, more people are willing to try their luck.
As one of our favourite online bingo sites, Mecca Bingo, points out, some games have reached several tens of thousands of players. The odds of a major jackpot may be low, but people are still willing to try for it if the payout is big enough. On top of that, more players mean more money going into the pot, which makes the jackpot bigger and attracts more players.
Ultimately, players have to decide how to balance a higher chance of winning with a better reward. Those who can do this well are more likely to profit from playing bingo, even if they don’t have an advantage in any specific game.
Who is the best bingo player in the world? Well, bingo is a fundamentally fair game that’s welcoming to newcomers and experienced players alike. There is no best player, and there never will be.
Whether you want to play for hours a night or just a few games here and there, online bingo gives you instant access to games. Even better, you know it’s fair, so the next big winner could be you. Just remember to play responsibly and don’t bet too much.