Advanced Bingo Strategies

The number of different patterns that can be called in a bingo game is practically limitless. Most callers know dozens of them. Some patterns are traditional, while others have been introduced more recently. Many are known to players everywhere, and a few are the inventions of creative and passionate bingo players. Experienced bingo players will realize that the same pattern may go by several different names, so that one person's "kite" is another person's "magic wand." In this article, we'll discuss how being familiar with card patterns can give you an edge over other players. We'll even share how choosing nonduplicate cards, using the same cards, and other tips can improve your odds for winning the jackpot. And some luck won't hurt either.

The types of patterns that will be played during a session are usually set ahead of time. Single games are not limited to a single pattern (for example, the caller may call a picture frame on the way to a blackout). It's possible that a player can win two jackpots in the same game by completing both the first and second patterns; or, it's possible the game may feature two different winners if one player gets the picture frame but a second player gets the blackout. Patterns are not limited to one card, either. For example, giant bingo is a straight-line bingo that extends from one card face to another.

T patern

T Pattern

Many of the patterns listed below can be designated "crazy," as in crazy snake. That simply means the snake pattern can be pointing any direction on the card. Thus, a T pattern can only be won straight up and down (just the way a capital T is written), but a crazy T can be won on its side or even upside down. Likewise, any pattern designated "the hard way" simply means the free space cannot be used in the winning pattern.

To keep the game interesting, most halls will change the patterns frequently. Some of the patterns can get pretty creative; the biggest problem with this is that trying to find a complex pattern on a dozen cards at once is an acquired skill. If the pattern is complicated, don't worry -- it's likely to be printed in a program or displayed on a lighted electronic board overhead, and it certainly will be explained by the caller prior to the game. But that still doesn't make it any easier for an inexperienced player to pick out the pattern when there are blotches all over their card. It's very important that you pay close attention to your cards in complicated games, or else you may reach bingo and not even realize it until it's too late. This happens all the time!


One way to keep things simple is to break down a pattern into its elements. The following are descriptions of popular patterns grouped by similarities.
In some cases, you'll find suggestions for how you might think of the patterns in order to simplify things while scanning your cards. Pay attention to special rules (for example, the two lines in double regular bingo need not run parallel to each other).

Straight Line Patterns

In one-line bingo, also called regular bingo, a player simply needs to cover five numbers in a row vertically, horizontally, or diagonally. In two lines, or double regular bingo, the lines do not necessarily need to run the same direction. The same is true for triple regular bingo, where it's possible to win with one horizontal, one vertical, and one diagonal line.

Railroad tracks

Railroad Tracks Pattern

Line Combo Patterns

These patterns can be thought of as special configurations of double and triple bingo. Two horizontal or vertical lines together make up railroad tracks. Asterisk is the two diagonals plus the vertical line down the center; add the horizontal line through the middle for starburst. Bow tie is just four lines: two diagonals, plus a vertical line down each edge.

Letter Patterns

Take a look. While this might seem like alphabet soup, it's just more straight-line combos. Remember, if the letter is designated "crazy," the pattern can be formed right-side up, upside down, or lying on either side.

Lucky Seven Patterns

Lucky seven is a double bingo consisting of the horizontal line along the top edge of the card plus the diagonal line from top right to bottom left, forming -- yes, you guessed it -- the number seven.

Odd-Even Bingo Card Pattern

Odd-Even Pattern

Coverall, Odd-Even, Speedball Patterns

Usually, coverall, also known as blackout, is used for a large, progressive jackpot. Players try to daub off all 24 numbered spaces on a card within a specific number of calls. In a 51-number blackout, for example, a player must cover all 24 spaces in 51 calls. If no one accomplishes this, the game ends and the jackpot rolls over. As mentioned earlier, some jurisdictions prohibit progressive jackpots; in that case, coveralls are played until someone hits bingo, regardless of how many balls are called.

In odd-even, a variation of coverall, the caller instructs players to blot out all even (or odd) numbers, and then calls only odd (or even) numbers until someone wins.
The caller will usually use the day of the month, a ball drawn from the blower, or some other method to determine whether the game is set at odd or even.

Speedball is a fast-paced version of coverall in which the caller rapidly calls out numbers one after the other until one player covers all spaces. The caller may even omit the letters to make it more challenging.


Picture Frame Patterns

A picture frame pattern includes every space along the edge of the card. Broken picture frame is every other space along the edge, starting with the corners. An inside frame is a small box inside what would be the larger picture frame area.

Diamond

Big Diamond Pattern

Diamond Patterns

Little diamond is a four-square pattern that includes the squares immediately to the top, bottom, left, and right of the free space. The points of the eight-square big diamond touch the center square of each side.

Postage Stamp/Double Postage Stamp Patterns

In a postage stamp pattern, to win you need to cover four squares in a corner. In single postage stamp, players usually need to have the top right corner covered (so the board looks like an envelope that's ready to mail). Double postage stamp can include any two corners.

Six-Pack/Block of Eight Patterns

These patterns are groupings similar to that of postage stamp. Six-pack is made up of two rows of three squares, just like a six-pack of soda or beer. Make that two rows of four squares each for block of eight. (Block of nine, as one would expect, is three rows of three squares each.)

Kite (Magic Wand)/Arrow Patterns

These are basically more variations on the postage stamp pattern. Kite is a four-square box in one corner (the kite), plus a diagonal line all the way to the opposite corner (the tail of the kite). A "crazy" kite is one in which the tail points to any of the four corners. Arrow looks a little bit like kite, but it consists of a six-square triangle instead of a four-square box.

American flag

American Flag Pattern

American Flag/Castle Patterns

American flag and castle are two horizontal bingo variations. American flag covers the top three lines plus a two-square flagpole at the bottom. The flagpole may be on the left or right. A castle covers the bottom two rows of the bingo card, as well as every other square in the middle row. As you can see, this creates the look of turrets on a castle.

Snake Patterns

The snake pattern consists of a zigzag line of five squares along the top edge of the card, starting with the second square in the B column. Remember, a crazy snake is the same pattern, but it can start in any of the corners.

Now that you are familiar with potential bingo card patterns, let's look at how players try to increase the mathematical odds of their numbers being called.