So, one of my friends tricked me into playing Bunco, and now I’m hooked. What is Bunco and how can someone as with-it and on-top-of-things as I am *cough* get tricked into anything, you ask?
Well, it’s simple.
I was duped.
But, she’s my friend, so I forgive her. Plus, she reads my blog every now and then, so I should play nice and tell you the whole story.
It all stems back to something that happened years ago, way before we’d ever met.
Years ago, one of my other friends called me, out of the blue, to play Bunco. I’d never heard of it, and quite frankly, her description of ladies sitting around rolling dice for prizes sounded, how should I say it?…unappealing. I politely declined and told her I was busy that particular night. When she kept calling, I finally told her that I was sure it was a great game, and I’m glad she enjoyed it, but I wasn’t interested. It’s hard to tell people you’re not interested in something near and dear to their hearts, but she seemed to take it well.
She never brought it up again. Fast forward years and years, and I hadn’t heard about Bunco since.
Then, another of my friends told me she was trying to organize a Moms’ Night Out and wanted to know if I would be interested in joining them. Yes! I was! Then, she told me the date and I told her I was available! Sweet! THEN, she told me she was hosting Bunco at her house.
I’d been outwitted. I couldn’t back out now! Now, in my friend’s defense, she didn’t know about what had happened years earlier. And, I don’t think she was trying to be sneaky. I even joked with her that had she told me it was Bunco before I accepted the invitation, I would have been “busy” (massive finger air-quotes on “busy”) that night. I mean, isn’t Bunco some old lady dice game? “I don’t know,” I said with a sigh. “People seem to like it, so I suppose it wouldn’t hurt to try.”
My friend assured me it was fun, and that I’d have a good time. Either way, I was going to be out of the house for some much needed Momma-time, so I figured I’d give it a shot.
I went to the event with an open mind and then tried not to panic when they started to tell us the rules.
I thought this was supposed to be easy?? There were what seemed to be an awful lot of rules. What do you mean it’s easier to play than it is to explain to someone?
Well, once we got the game rolling, it was! It was such an easy game to play and so much fun! I had a great time! The next month, we all got together again to play. This time, we had new people joining, and I recognized the deer in headlights look on their faces.
“Don’t worry,” I said, like I was an expert. “It’s much easier to play than it is to explain.” And they discovered that it was!
In fact, I had so much fun playing again that I volunteered to hostess the next one. We played on Wednesday night. We had a blast!
So, how do you play? Well, as with anything, there are different rules and variations. And, it really is easier than it sounds.
But, for the sake of explanation, here is the way we play Bunco:
- Everyone puts in $5 to cover prizes, and you can either play for prizes or cash. We’ve done it both ways, and each way is equally fun.
- You need at least 12 players, which are divided into three tables of four players each. (You can have more than 12 people, but increments of 4 makes it all easier.)
- Each table has three dice.
- You always have a partner, but your partner changes after each round.
- The people at the Head Table determine the length of each round.
- Each player has a score card that they use to keep track of the following things: Wins, Losses, Snakes, Buncos, and Baby Buncos.
Wins and Losses are self explanatory. At the end of a round, if you and your partner have more points than the other team, you win that round. The other team loses. You mark it as such on your score card. (How many points you have at the end of the round doesn’t really matter and isn’t really recorded anywhere. It’s either a win or a loss.)
Snakes are what you call three 1s. For example, a person rolls the dice, and they come up with three 1s. A Snake wipes out all the points you’ve accumulated so far in the round. Doh! So, they’re “bad,” but the more snakes you get the bigger your chance of winning a prize for it. Still, you don’t want snakes.
Bunco is what you call three of whatever number round you’re on. For example, we start out our game at Round 2. The object of the game in Round 2 is to roll as many 2s as you can. If any of the three dice you throw is a 2, you get to roll again. (As soon as you don’t roll any 2s, you pass the dice to the next person.) You get one point per 2 that you roll. IF you throw the dice, and all three of them are 2s, you have a Bunco! (You get 21 points for Buncos, in addition to however many single 2s you rolled in your turn.)
Baby Bunco is what you call three of any other number, other than the round you’re on. For example, if you’re on Round 2, and you throw the dice and all three dice are 4s, you have a Baby Bunco. You get 5 points for those.
Which brings us to partners, and this was the hardest thing for me to grasp when they were explaining it the first time.
For each round, you have a partner. Let’s pretend we’re on Round 3, and we’re sitting at the Head Table. The object is to roll as many 3s as possible. You are partners with the person across the table from you. One of you keeps score for your team, for that round. (Your official score card is set to the side.) Let’s say you’re rolling the dice first. You roll a 3, 2, and a 1. Your partner marks down one tally mark for the 3 that you rolled. You pick up the dice again and roll three 4s. Baby Bunco! Your partner marks an additional five tally marks on the paper and you put one tick-mark by the Baby Bunco spot on your score card, because you’re the one who rolled it. (You are in this together with your partner for tally-marks only, but the person who rolls the specials gets the credit for those.) You roll the dice again, and get 2, 4, and 5. You have no 3s, so you pass the dice to the next person.
Still with me?
They roll a 1, 4, and 6. Bummer…no 3s. So, they pass the dice to your partner. She rolls three 3s. Bunco! Sweet! She marks 21 tally-marks (or writes 21 and adds it up later) on the score sheet and then marks 1 Bunco on her personal score card.) She rolls again and gets 3, 4, and 6. So, she marks another tally-mark for the 3. Then, she rolls a 4, 6, 6. The round is over, and because you guys are at the Head Table, and because you reached 21-points, you ring the bell, signaling the end of Round 3 for everyone.
A note about the Head Table: As soon as one team at the Head Table reaches 21, the round is over for everyone. You get 21 points for a Bunco, so that will do it, or if one of the teams rolls enough tally-marks to reach 21, the round is over. Some rounds are short. Others are long.
If you’re not at the Head Table, you play the same way, only you can get as many points as you can. The team with the most points at the sound of the bell wins that round. On the score sheet, you mark whether you won or lost for that particular round, and then you follow the directions on the table.
Each table has a card that says, “Losers move to Table 2” or “Winners move to Table 1” etc. And, you and your partner move to the next table (or stay, as the case may be) and then play with a new partner.
You play as many rounds as your time allows. We can usually get through three sets (going from Round 2 through Round 6 and then starting over at Round 2 and going again.) At the end, everyone tallies up their wins and losses, snakes, baby buncos, buncos, and the prizes are divvied out.
Like I said, once you see it in action, it will click. Reading about it or trying to follow someone explaining it can make your eyes glaze over.
It only took about one round for me to figure it all out. And, the hardest part was not yelling Yahtzee!