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Bingo Advantage Play Tips

During my trip to Las Vegas a few weeks ago, I played a number of rounds of Bingo. Most of my sessions were at the Plaza downtown, where I was staying for a long weekend.

I was playing with a couple of friends who play more often, and they gave me a couple of pointers that may help others less familiar with bingo, and can improve your chances of winning.

Let’s start by stating something that is likely obviously to at least some of you: Unlike slot machines, Bingo is generally played against other players. The house sets the prize pool, you buy your cards, but ultimately you’re playing against other players in an attempt to reach the finish line first.

That means the number of players who are in the room can matter – busier sessions means it will be harder to get Bingo before others, and if you do it’s more likely you’ll be forced to split the prize pool.

So, knowing that a session will be lighter can be an advantage, as the cards still cost the same amount, for instance. Sometimes casinos will do increased prizes for certain sessions where they’re trying to draw out more players, so those increased prizes can be a benefit.

Right now, with social distancing requirements, most bingo halls are forced to allow less total players, so right off the top they tend to be less busy. But in markets like Las Vegas, the rooms can be even emptier. I played a couple of sessions that had less than 25 people. With something like 12-15 games going in a session (it varies a bit by location), that’s a pretty good opportunity. I played five total Bingo sessions while in Las Vegas and I broke even or came out ahead on all five.

Another thing to look out for is what types of cards, and their prizes, are being sold. Many places sell rainbow packs, and each card color has a different prize structure (but as you can imagine, those cards cost more). The rainbow packs load you up with some of each card, but put most of the emphasis on the least expensive card types.

Other places have simplified the structure in an acknowledgement of how the times are right now. Plaza had shifted to a Blue card only model with a variety of packages available during my visit, but they were also offering a $25 match play promotion for up to three sessions a day, as well as $10 in free play for every $50 in Bingo spend completed.

So that leads me to my last recommendation – check your promotions. If you spent $50 at Plaza, you got $75 worth of cards thanks to the match play, as well as $10 in free play. A Blue card paid $75 in most games, so a single non-shared win (generally possible to achieve with a small crowd) would put you ahead pretty quickly with pretty low risk.

Another nice advantage to Bingo is the slow play – $50 for an hour of gambling fun is pretty low stakes compared to the damage that can be done on a slot floor. And right now the odds are higher of a decent payout, as my $600 Bingo Win (and this was in a nearly full hall for that session) can attest!

Bingo Advantage Play Tips During my trip to Las Vegas a few weeks ago, I played a number of rounds of Bingo. Most of my sessions were at the Plaza downtown, where I was staying for a long

How Bingo Slot Machines Work

To understand how, or even why bingo-based slot machines exist, it helps to have a quick background on Native-American (NA) gambling.

The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act

The IGRA was signed into law in 1988 and established the framework for Indian gaming. It gave the authority to tribes to conduct, license, and regulate gaming.

Class I, II, and III Games

For legal reasons, the IGRA created 3 different classes of gambling. Class I refers to simple, traditional social games for small prizes and is not controlled by the IGRA. You won’t find these at casinos.

Class II games are games of chance based on bingo and similar games, like pull-tabs or lotteries. Class II games are most attractive to NA casinos because not only do they not require tribes to enter into state compacts, but tribes don’t have to pay taxes on Class II gaming revenue.

Finally, Class III is a catch-all classification for games that don’t fall under Class I or II classifications. Class III includes traditional casino games such as true slot machines, roulette, craps, etc.

How Bingo-Based Slots Work

Many early NA casinos were nothing more than bingo halls. As time marched on and customers flocked to slot machines, companies innovated what essentially were (and still are) fancier displays of bingo games.

When you play a slot machine at a NA casino and there’s a bingo card somewhere on the screen, that’s a good indication you’re playing a Class II machine instead of a true, Class III slot machine.

Whereas Class III machines operate in a independent manner, Class II machines are really just an elaborate display for the bingo games running in the background. When you hit the spin button, you enter into a game of bingo. Like real games of bingo, Class II games require at least two players. If you’re at a small casino that’s not busy, the reels may spin for an abnormally long time while it waits for someone else to join the game.

And while each slot manufacturer may design their Class II game slightly differently, they always involves the same bingo elements: multiple players attempting to match certain patterns on their cards compared to numbers centrally called.

Are Bingo-Based Slots Fair?

Native American casinos often get a lot of criticism for their self-regulating nature and lack of transparency, especially when compared to Vegas casinos which are required to publish all sorts of information like payouts and revenue.

But the fact is bingo-based slots can actually be more transparent than their Class III counterparts (if someone does the legwork). Within Class II machines’ paytable will be a list of all the winning bingo patterns and resulting pays. With a little bit of effort, you can actually calculate the odds of each pattern and win and combine them to create an “expected return” value which is equal to the game’s payout. Trying to figure out the payout on a traditional Class III machine is impossible without running it through millions of spins.

Class II vs Class III

Though what’s going on in the background varies between Class II and III games, the player’s experience is basically the same. Both types of games have a specific payout associated with them. The bingo balls and cards generated by Class II machines come from random number generators, just like Class III machines.

So while some are suspicious of Class II games and their operation, the end result is practically no different from any normal slot machine.

How Bingo Slot Machines Work To understand how, or even why bingo-based slot machines exist, it helps to have a quick background on Native-American (NA) gambling. The Indian Gaming Regulatory