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Your Guide to Getting Started in Online Bingo
Did you know?
85% of bingo players worldwide prefer to play online as opposed to in a bingo hall.
So, you’re thinking of venturing into the world of online bingo. Maybe you’re already a seasoned land-bingo veteran looking to play from the comfort of your own computer or mobile device. Or maybe you’re new to the game of bingo altogether. Either way, you’re in good company when you decide to play online bingo: 85% of bingo players worldwide prefer to play online as opposed to in a bingo hall.
With the myriad of bingo websites and variety of games and jackpots available, getting started with online bingo can feel a bit overwhelming at first. But never fear… we’re here to make the process of getting started as easy as can be. Read on!
Ready: Learn a Bit About the Game
One of the main benefits of bingo is that it’s easy to learn and play – just listen and watch for the numbers to be called, then mark them when you see them on your card. But even though bingo is not a difficult game, it’s good to have a little background before you get started. Here’s what you need to know:
Bingo Games & Cards
There are a few basic categories of bingo – differing primarily in the types of bingo cards they use and the numbers that fill them. The two most-widely played varieties are 90-ball bingo (most popular in UK bingo halls) and 75-ball bingo (most popular in the U.S.). The beauty of online bingo is that you can easily choose the game you prefer. Or you can decide play both, so you don’t have to choose at all!
90-ball or 75-ball? Which game is the ultimate bingo champion? Check out our head-to-head matchup here.
Online Bingo Options & Enhancements
One of the biggest challenges in a game of land-based bingo is keeping up with the numbers as they are called. If you don’t call bingo in time (before the next number is drawn), even if your card’s a winner, you don’t win. Not a happy moment in the life of a bingo player!
If you’re new to bingo, you might think that finding and marking numbers is no big deal. But seasoned players tend to play lots of cards all at the same time in an exercise of intense multitasking! So in bingo halls, silence is golden while the game is in progress – this is no time to chat with your neighbour.
Things couldn’t be more different in an online bingo hall. In fact, chatting with your friends during the game is a big part of the online bingo experience… even if you’re playing dozens of cards. And to make things even more exciting, you might choose to play online slots, blackjack, or roulette at the same time! How could this be possible? It’s all about the various automatic options that take bingo multitasking to the next level:
Auto-play options allow the system to automatically mark the numbers on your cards as they are called. (In bingo terminology, marking the numbers is called “daubing” or “dabbing”, so you will often see this option referred to as “autodaub.”)
Best Card Sorting instructs the computer to place the cards with the best chance of winning at the top of your screen so you can see them more easily.
Best Card Highlighting tells the system to alert you or to highlight the cards that are close to a win.
On some websites, you don’t even have to call bingo in order to win the game. You win whenever you have a winning card – whether you’re paying attention to the numbers or cooking dinner or running after the kids. (This is a particularly nice feature when you are just getting started; you can relax, socialise, and learn the game without the having the stress of missing your chance to win.)
Show Me The Money!
Generally, the amount of money you can win in a game depends on the cost per card and the number of people playing (called “buying in”). Payouts get higher as card prices increase and as more people play. (On the flipside, more people buying-in also lowers your chances of winning. That’s why some people prefer to play at times and in rooms with less traffic.)
In addition to standard payouts, some sites offer minimum jackpots and additional prizes on certain games or tournaments. Some websites also offer progressive jackpots, in which you must cover a certain pattern or the whole card within a fixed number of calls. If no one accomplishes this feat, the jackpot rolls over to the next game and continues to grow until someone wins it. Then the jackpot is reset to its starting level and the whole process begins again.
Finally (and of particular importance to newbies), some sites offer free bingo games in specific rooms at specific times, giving you the opportunity to gain some experience before you pay to play. Many free games offer prizes as well, so you can learn the ropes, win some cash, and enjoy the excitement – all without investing a penny.
Set: Choose an Online Bingo Site
There are lots of factors to consider when choosing an online bingo site – and it might seem like there are unlimited options. But if you keep the following considerations in mind, you’ll soon see that not all bingo websites are created equal, and you’ll be sure to find the place that’s just right for you.
Probably the most important factor to consider when choosing an online bingo site is its reputation. After all, once you decide to start playing for real money, you’ll need to make a deposit into an online bingo account – and you should feel confident about where your money is going.
All reputable bingo sites in the UK are licensed in jurisdictions approved by the UK Gambling Commission. Before signing up to play, check the Commission’s website to be sure that the site you are considering has an active license.
You can also take a look at online forums and message boards to learn about others players’ experiences. (Just keep in mind that many “review sites” actually earn money by promoting certain bingo sites. And when evaluating the reliability of the reviews of others, remember that a little common sense goes a long way!)
Community & Culture
It’s been said that online bingo combines the best of online gaming with the best of social networking – and most online bingo players would agree. Much of the appeal of the online version of the game comes from the ability to socialise, enjoy the company of your fellow players, and become part of a vibrant community.
Online bingo combines the best of online gaming with the best of social networking.
Find out if the site you’re considering encourages a rich interactive chat experience. Some sites offer the ability to have private conversations. Some feature chat hosts to keep the conversation lively. Some even offer chat-related games and bonuses as subtext to the main event.
Each online bingo site has a different culture, and each attracts different types of players. Poke around the Internet a bit to find a site with a community you’ll enjoy being a part of.
Money In, Money Out
Most major websites offer various promotions and bonuses for signing up, depositing money to your account, referring your friends, etc. Check out the sites to find the offers most attractive to you, but don’t forget to read the fine print. In general, these promotions allow you to “play with the house’s money,” but they require that certain terms be met before you are eligible to withdraw a bonus in cash.
It’s also important to consider the various options available for funding your account. Whether you prefer to deposit by credit card, check, cash, or e-wallet (such as PayPal or Neteller), make sure that the site you choose offers a method that is convenient and comfortable for you.
Of course, just as important as getting money in is getting money out – especially if you plan to win big! So be sure to review a site’s withdrawal terms and methods before you make a deposit.
Rules of the Game
Within the major categories of bingo discussed above (90-ball, 75-ball, and one or two others), you will find countless variations on how the game is played – from the patterns that must be covered in order to win, to the cost of cards, to the types of payouts and jackpots available. Find a site that offers a variety of games that appeal to you, and you’ll always have something new to try.
Some players are happy to let their cards be chosen at random while others employ strategies about number distribution. Some are superstitious about the numbers on their cards, and others just get a feeling about whether the cards are good or bad. Long story short, if you’re interested in selecting your own bingo cards, make sure that the site you choose offers that option, and take a look at how the process is implemented.
Sites also have different rules about the minimum and maximum number of cards that can be played in one game. So if that’s an important consideration for you, be sure to check it out.
Options & Enhancements
As discussed in more detail above, there are a number of options that make online bingo a bit different from its land-based counterpart. Autodaub, best card sorting, and best card highlighting can significantly enhance your enjoyment of the game – especially as a new player. Be sure to take the availability of these options into account; and if they are offered, we suggest using them! (Of course, if you do enjoy a bit of high tension every now and then, you should choose a site that allows you to enable and disable these features whenever you wish.)
Different websites also offer a variety of non-bingo games that you can play in between bingo sessions or at even at the same time. If you enjoy the feel of a Monte Carlo casino, find a site that offers slots, roulette, and black jack. If you enjoy playing scratch-off lotto games, you’ll find these offered on certain sites as well.
Software & Support
Some sites allow you to play bingo directly from within your web browser (e.g., Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, or Safari), while other sites require that you download and install the site’s own software. For many people, this is not a major concern, but if you want the flexibility to play from any computer, a browser-based site is probably better for you. No matter what, be sure that your computer and internet connection meet the minimum requirements of the site you choose.
If you’re the type of person that’s never at home, find out what type of options are available for playing on the go. While some sites are incompatible with mobile technology, others offer the ability to play from your mobile web browser, and still others offer apps for your smartphone or tablet.
Last but not least, make sure that you always have someone to talk to by choosing a site that offers real-time, live-person help and support.
GO! Let’s Play!
So you’ve learned the basics of the game, you’ve done your research, and you’ve picked the right bingo website for you. Now’s when the real fun begins…
First, register for the site you’ve chosen. If the site offers free game options or a pre-deposit welcome bonus, start by playing a few games on the house. Then, once you’re ready, make your initial deposit.
Explore the various rooms and games available on the site, and pick the one that sounds most appealing to you. Then it’s time to jump in!
Just like when you start anything new, take it slow at first: turn on the automatic options, start in a room with low-cost buy-ins, and don’t try to play too many cards at once. Give yourself a chance to chat with the others in the room, and if you have questions, don’t be afraid to ask! Most experienced players are more than happy to share their wisdom with a newbie.
Finally, don’t get too bogged down with theories and strategies at the beginning; there’s plenty of time for that later. (And, of course, feel free to come back anytime that you like to read some of our more advanced topics). But for now… just sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride!