Amazing Facts about Bingo Cards

innercards05012016They say that the brilliance of great design is when something is so seamless that its individual parts disappear into the composition of the final product. It often takes time to realize that a design of this magnitude is upon us, and, by then, it has become so ubiquitous that it passes without a second glance. Sliced bread, for example, seems as though it was an obvious and unavoidable choice. After all, people enjoy making sandwiches from time to time, and the opportunity to do so without the need for a knife is too convenient to ignore. Much in the same vein, the bingo card has become a staple of modern entertainment, as the classic game has grown from humble roots in traveling carnivals and road shows to a universal hit enjoyed in permanent venues around the globe.

From the letters across the top to the numbers within the squares, the design of the bingo card is a textbook example of excellence in simplicity. While a simple grid with a few numbers and a free space in the center may seem like thoughtless work, the truth of the matter is that the bingo card is the result of generations of tweaks and alterations completed in the name of improvement.

Today, bingo players enjoy the culmination of these efforts by participating in a game that’s so effortlessly engaging that players from preschool to retirement homes can claim the thrill of victory.

Now that the brilliance of the bingo card is apparent, let’s take a moment to revel in its glory. Since their creation in the 1800s by Germans looking to improve the education of their children, bingo cards have been reinvented as the centerpiece of what’s become a pastime for all. Take a look at these amazing facts about bingo cards.

Who Invented the Bingo Card?

Although bingo’s roots go back for centuries, the classic bingo card is often considered a relatively modern design. In fact, Edwin S. Lowe, a toy salesman from New York, hired a mathematics professor from the University of Columbia named Carl Leffler to create 6,000 random and unique bingo cards for use in a board game version of bingo. The difficulty in creating a large series of completely random bingo cards is purported to have driven Leffler insane. With a little bit of math, however, we can determine that 6,000 random bingo cards, while no simple task, is most certainly doable. Assuming a 75-ball bingo game in which the ‘B’ column includes numbers one through 15, ‘I’ includes 16 through 30, and so on following this pattern, there are roughly 552 septillion possibilities for unique playing cards. To put it in more comprehensible terms, if a computer printer could print one trillion bingo cards each second, it would take more than 17,000 years to finish printing a single set.

Different Rules across the Pond

It’s a relatively well-known fact that bingo is enjoyed around the globe, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t some differences from place to place. One glowing example of this fact is the design of the humble bingo card. In the U.S., bingo cards are five by five squares with a free square in the center. This makes a wide variety of symmetrical patterns available to keep the game exciting over the long term. In the U.K., however, bingo cards have just three rows and feature nine columns. Typically, U.K. bingo cards have number combinations ranging from one to 90 – as opposed to the standard one to 75 commonly found in the U.S. – making the possible bingo combinations even more astronomical. If you’ve never seen a typical Housie ticket (a U.K. bingo card), you may not even recognize the European take on a classic American pastime.

An Expensive Hobby

Because of the universal appeal of bingo, players spend a lot of cash pursuing the prizes. According to industry data, Americans spend more than $90 million on bingo cards each and every week. Despite the vigor with which Americans enjoy bingo, the odds can sometimes be difficult to overcome. Consider, for example, that you’re given 600 bingo cards. These 600 cards are free, and if you’re able to cover one whole card within 54 calls you’ll win your dream prize. Sounds like pretty good odds, huh? Well, let’s delve a little deeper. Each card has 24 squares that need to be called, meaning that you’ll need to hit on every other call throughout most of the round. The actual probability that you’ll get the blackout win is about one in 18,738. In other words, the odds of all 600 cards failing to win clock in at about 96.79 percent. If you want to improve your odds of achieving a quick blackout, you’ll need more cards. For a 90 percent chance of covering every number in 40 calls or less, a player would need more than 944 million bingo cards! Luckily, bingo is normally played against other players. Instead of attempting to get the winning combination in a predefined number of calls, you’ll just need to do better than the competition. Those are odds worth spending $90 million a week on, right?

Now that you know a little more about the majestic bingo card, it’s time to put your knowledge to work in live bingo action. Bingo is an unrivaled opportunity to put your luck to the test while enjoying a uniquely social gaming experience. The risk-reward factor of bingo is much more enticing than some other games, and the simple rules mean that you’ll have a chance to relax and enjoy your time in the game or tournament. All of that, plus the chance to win a sweet prize or two, has helped bingo grow into a true phenomenon in the gaming industry. Whether you prefer traditional American-style bingo or a quick round of Housie, take advantage of the refined bingo experience by loading up a game right away. Big prizes could be in store, but there’s only one true way to find out for yourself!