Online Bingo Guide

What is Online Bingo?

Bingo is a lottery style game in which numbered balls are randomly drawn and called out. Players win by covering the matching numbers on their bingo cards according to predetermined patterns. The first player to cover all the numbers in the pattern shouts out "Bingo!" Online bingo is the same game as land-based bingo, the main difference being that it is played on the Internet.

Differences Between Land-Based Bingo and Online Bingo

The main difference between land-based bingo halls and online bingo halls is the use of a random number generator (RNG) instead of random balls. The other basic difference is that everything that takes place in a land-based bingo hall, such as the social aspects and the caller, who calls out the numbers on the randomly selected balls, takes place in a virtual world. One of the features of online bingo halls is the chat rooms that allow players to socialize.

Online Bingo Networks

Who knew there was so much to learn about bingo? Is an entertaining game with low ticket prices and high prize pots too much to ask? Did you know these features have a lot to do with whether or not a site is part of a network? Well then, let's dig into the basics of bingo networks.

While not always the case, bingo sites are generally part of a wide network designed to enhance the player experience, but does it? Ticket sales are pooled to increase progressive jackpots in the bingo rooms, much like what we find with progressive slots from the likes of Microgaming, NetEnt or Playtech. Joining a network enables newer brands, or those with fewer members, to get up and running quickly because they're linked with other sites where games, promotions, software and T&C's are typically the same across the board.

Pros, Cons, Duplicates and Standalones

There are definitely pros and cons to consider with network sites. For one, if you've ever avoided links because of the slim chance of winning against thousands of players, you might think twice about a network site. The truth is, every game at network sites can feel like one big linked game. On one hand, the prizes are inflated, therefore making them extremely attractive, but on the other hand, there's an army of participants competing for limited prizes.

Perhaps you're thinking 'bring it on' when it comes to the competition, but ah, the market is unbelievably saturated with cookie cutter clones, each serving up more of the same old thing. So, where's the originality? Unfortunately, it's often lost in a sea of conglomerates. Once you've seen one Cozy Games or Dragonfish-powered site, haven't you seen them all? These are often White Label solutions, which are ready-made bingo sites including all required aspects from the games to backend operations. Owners simply slap on a logo and new skin as if it were their own development. This is where standalone operators can bring back some of the zest we crave.

Standalone sites are not part of a network. Unlike networks, prizes are not pooled, which may be seen as a plus for some, but it also results in lower jackpots and general prize pots. This isn't an issue for extraordinarily active sites with bustling bingo rooms, such as tombola, but the lesser known guys risk leaving their players with a lot of downtime. Operators that are not part of a network tend to offer more flexibility in terms of promotions and bonus schemes, a perk which helps distinguish them from the rest. Undoubtedly, there's a positive for every negative, but most of us are going where the thrill is.

Wrapping up:

Networks = busier rooms, increased prizes and high volumes of players.

No network (standalone) = variations on promos and bonuses, level playing field and fewer players.

Time to Explore

If you're keen to try every Jumpman Gaming, Gamesys, Virtue Fusion or any other site on the planet, here's a list of the networks they belong to.

Standalone

15 Network

888 Holdings Network

Best Bingo Network

Bingo Stars Network

Dragonfish (Globalcom) Network

Gamesys Network

Lucky Duck Network

Virtue Fusion Network

Real Bingo Network

United Bingo Network

Wheel of Slots Network

How to Play Online Bingo

The first step players need to take is to register at an online bingo site. Players will need to download the online bingo site's software, which can be done either before or after registering. It is important to ensure that your computer has at least the minimum requirements needed in order to run the software. Most bingo sites, as with other online gambling sites, will have the option for players to play through their web browsers, using the Flash player, to run the site. For those using their own computers, it is preferable to download the software and install it on the computer.

The site will generate random bingo cards for each player that has indicated that they wish to join a game. When playing online bingo, as with land bingo, players can play more than one card per game. Players can play many more cards than land-based bingo players, with some sites allowing players to play as many as 50 cards for one game. This is made possible because most online bingo halls allow players to use auto daubers. Daubers are the special pens that are used to mark off bingo numbers in land-based bingo games. To daub online, players who have chosen the manual option will use their mouse to click on the numbers that have already been called. Auto daubers will do the job for the player, often while the player is chatting with their friends in their favorite chat rooms.

For sites that have rules specific only to their site, these will be displayed on the screen. Also listed will be the number of bingo cards that the player has selected for the current game. The screen names of all the other players who are playing in the same session will also be posted on the screen. For those who wish to, or need to, see the numbers that have already been called, these will also be posted on the screen. This is especially important for those who do not choose the auto dauber function, since they may see a number they have missed earlier.

The computer software, driven by the RNG will 'call out' the numbers that have been randomly chosen. Players who are not using the auto dauber feature will compare these numbers with the numbers they see on their bingo cards, marking off all the numbers that have been called. Each bingo game comes with a different pattern that needs to be marked off in order to win. These patterns will be shown on the bingo site before the first number is called. Bingo cards are numbered on a square grid that is five blocks by five blocks. The number of blocks and the layout of the cards differs somewhat depending on the number of numbered balls used in the bingo variation. Players may need to get all the numbers on the card, or they may need to, for example, cover an X pattern, or simply one specific line across the card.

The first player to mark off all the numbers which make the predetermined pattern will win the game, and should shout a virtual "Bingo!" by pressing the bingo button as quickly as possible with their mouse. Shouting "Bingo!" may be fun, but it is important to remember that the bingo button needs to be pressed as quickly as possible since shouting won't be heard by the virtual caller!

Variations of Online Bingo

There are four variations of online bingo - 30 Ball Bingo, 75 Ball Bingo, 80 Ball Bingo, and 90 Ball Bingo. Apart from the number of balls that are used in the game, the only other difference is the size and layout of the bingo cards. Each version of bingo has its own variety of game patterns, from an X, to corners, to blackout, where all squares need to be covered, and more.

30 Ball Bingo

This is a newer concept of online bingo. The bingo cards are 3 x 3 with nine squares. It is a fast paced game with only 30 possible numbers to be called per game. Often referred to as "speed" bingo because there is only 9 numbers to match. Players have taken a vast interest in the game for the rate of games that can be played in any given time frame. This allows progressive jackpots to build at a much faster rate, thus giving a higher percentage of potentially winning than in other bingo games.

75 Ball Bingo Cards

These bingo cards are played on a square grid, which is made up of 5 x 5 blocks. The letters B-I-N-G-O are printed across the top of the grid, each letter heading up one of the columns. The squares contain numbers that are randomly chosen, although each line is chosen from a specific set of numbers as follows: The column under the B is made up of five random numbers chosen from numbers 1 - 15. The I is found at the top of the second column under which will be five numbers chosen from 16 - 30. The N is at the top of the third column, which contains four numbers randomly chosen from between 31 - 45. The center square is blank in the 75 ball game, and is considered to be a free space that is always considered to be marked off. Column G contains numbers between 46 - 60, while O has the random numbers chosen from 61 - 75.

80 Ball Bingo Cards

Land-based 80 ball bingo is often called "Shutterboard" or "CashLine," and is played with shutter boards, which are unique bingo cards. Shutterboards have little sliding shutters that can be slid over in order to cover the numbers called. Online 80 ball bingo cards will often look similar to shutterboards, and players will have shaded numbers instead of daubed numbers. These numbers on these shutterboards are usually laid out in a 4 x 4 square, forming a total of 16 numbers on each board. The calling board used by the caller usually has the numbers set out in groups of 20, with each set being identified by a different color. For example, numbers 1 - 20 will fit into the red group, numbers 21 - 40 in the yellow group, and so on up to number 80. Each shutterboard usually contains four numbers from each color group.

90 Ball Bingo Cards

The 90 Ball Bingo game is very similar to playing the 75 ball game, although most consider it slightly easier to play. The 90 ball bingo card is larger than the card used for the 75 ball game, and is formed on a grid that is 3 x 9 (three rows and nine columns.) Fifteen squares on the grid have numbers on them, while the other squares are left blank. The numbers are placed randomly on the card, with no specific groupings, which means that players doing their own daubing will need to concentrate a little harder than in the other versions of online bingo.

The reason the game is usually considered somewhat easier is that all the numbers need to be marked off to win the game. Some 90 ball bingo games will also offer prizes if players mark off squares in a specific pattern along the way to the final bingo.

Players are often sold six cards, or tickets, as they are called in the 90 ball bingo version. These six tickets will have all the numbers from 1 - 90 spread out randomly over all the bingo tickets. Players win when a single ticket has been entirely covered. When playing with the set of six bingo tickets, players will be daubing a number for each ball that is called.

Casino Side Games

While in a bingo room, players have the option for Side Games. These are typically casino games found on site but in a mini version. In the bingo room a small screen is present which allows players to simultaneously play along with bingo. These side games have no limits to wagering and can be played in the same way as the full version games. The only exception to these games from the full version games is there may be limitations on the variety offered. Side games commonly seen in bingo rooms include: Slots, Video Poker and Keno.

Online Bingo Tips

It is suggested that if you choose to daub your own numbers when playing online bingo, you should limit yourself to only a few bingo cards per game. Perhaps three or four cards will be all that you can easily keep track of.

Be polite when joining in with conversations in chat rooms. Because online bingo is very much about being social, it does not make sense to get fellow players upset. Making friends is certainly the better way to go especially if you are new to the game and would like to ask advice of your fellow players.

There is more chance of winning bingo games if there are fewer players in the game. The prize pool may, however, be smaller since less players are contributing. Choose quieter games on weekends and holidays, or play during the week if you are able to.

On sites that sell bingo cards for 25 cents or more will usually offer bigger jackpots.

Players should keep an eye out for the best bonuses available, since bonuses can increase the size of your bankroll.

Ensure that the bingo site you have chosen is safe and secure before you give over any of your personal details. Bingo sites can be investigated fairly easily via message boards where players will report any problems they may have experienced. Always choose a unique password, and do not share it with others. Do not give out personal information in chat rooms.

Take advantage of free games that are offered on bingo sites in order to learn the game. In order to manage your money effectively, ensure that you only play with money that you can afford to use for gaming and leisure. If your budget has been used up, even if you are an experienced bingo player, you can always play free games!

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