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How to Play Bunco

What started as a parlor game is today a very popular die game to pass time. Here is the guidance you need in order to play Bunco.
Tulika Nair
A game that can be first traced to 18th century England where it was known as 8-Dice cloth is today enjoying its popularity as a family dice game. From England the game came to the U.S., more specifically San Francisco, in 1855.
It soon became popular as a gambling game in parlors. It was in the 1980s that people began to play the game at their houses and it became popular as a family game.
Today it is a hugely popular party game and there are many Bunco parties that are organized, with people even playing this game to raise funds. The first Bunco World Championship was held in 2006.

Since the rules of the game are so simple, playing it is easy as pie. The ideal number of people needed to play a good game of Bunco is 12.

Things Needed

For a Bunco party, it will be helpful if you gather all things needed for playing and make a box. The things needed are:
  • 3 square tables
  • A set of 3 dice for each table (9 dice)
  • A set of 4 pencils at each table for all players
  • 3 notepads, one for each table
  • Bell
Other than the box, the host of the party will need to organize snacks, beverages, and prizes.

Terms to Know

There are some terms that are peculiar to the game of Bunco. These terms have been explained here.
  • Set: A game of Bunco comprises 4 sets, each of which is made up of 6 rounds.
  • Round: Each player rolls three dice and tries to get the number that is called out. A full turn with every player rolling the dice is called a round.
  • Head Table: There is one table that controls the speed at which the game is played. This is called the Head table.
  • Roll-off: If at the end of one round, there is a tie between the two teams playing the game, then there is another turn of dice rolling of the number that is called out. This is called roll-off.
  • Up: The number that has been called out for that particular turn is known as the number that is up.
  • Ghost: If the number of players are less than 12, then they can be substituted by something called a ghost player.

How to Play

Well, this dice game is probably the easiest game of all time and actually does not require any specific skill set to master it. The following are the guidelines that you need to play it.
  • There are four players seated at each table. Two players form a team at each table and the members of the team sit opposite each other at the table. One player at each table has to be assigned as the scorekeeper to tabulate the points.
  • Assign each table as head, middle, or bottom. The head table controls the game and at the end of each round, the winning team stays at the head table and the losing team moves to the bottom table.
  • The game begins with the scorekeeper at the head table ringing the bell to indicate the start of the game.
  • One of the players start the round by rolling the three dice. The objective of the game is to roll the dice to get the number that is up or has been called out. If you get one dice up, you get one point, if you get two dice up, you get two points and if you get three dice up, you get 21 points and win the round.
For example, if the number which is up is 4, and all three dice that you roll come up with 4, you win 21 points and win the game. In case, you do not roll the number that is up, the dice are passed on to the player to your left.
  • When a team wins the round at the head table, the winning team stays seated and the losing team moves to the bottom table. Change partners after every round. Every game that an individual wins along with his/her partner is counted in his score.
  • Since there are six numbers on the dice, there are six rounds in one set. Play at least three sets, but this could be depend on your preference. The player with the most number of wins at the end of all sets, wins the game.
It is a fun-filled social game that can be played at parties. So, convince eleven of your friends and have fun testing your luck with every roll of the dice.