Bingo can seem like a simple game. Many of us have what could politely be called superstitions when it comes to playing our favourite game. Some have lucky numbers. Others refuse cards with certain combinations of numbers, such as too many in sequence. There isn’t really much logic or science involved in these quirks. But feelings and hunches can be a good guide in any case. Sometimes in life we just “know” that something is right, or wrong about something.
Maybe intuition can take us so far, but can science and rational analysis provide an alternative guide to help us to improve our tactics? Bingo is based on numbers after all. And Mathematics – the purest science of all, is all about numbers too.
Let’s suppose we are already enjoying regular games of bingo. Is there anything that Maths and logic can tell us which could help us to get more wins, or bigger wins, when we play bingo? For example: to maximise our prizes, should we play more games, or play the same number of games, but buy more tickets?
One of the clear advantages of playing online, as opposed to playing in a bingo hall, is the ability to play with more tickets. There is a limit to how many tickets even the most quick witted and nimble thumbed player can daub in the real world, but online the only restriction is that imposed by the site’s rules. Everything is done for you automatically.
But just because you can do something, doesn’t mean that it’s a good idea. So if you do decide that you want to increase your investment in the game to get more wins, should you buy more tickets for games you already intend to play, or just play more games?
Well the first thing to remember is that there are a lot of variables in bingo. It’s not just about the sheer luck of which numbers are called. How many players are there? How many tickets have they bought? Is there a guaranteed jackpot, or is the prize purely a proportion of the money spent on the game? Some of the answers you will know, others you can take a bit of a guess at. Is the room busy? Some sites announce the number of players (but not usually the number of tickets sold).
Overall, statistical analysis tells us that it is marginally more efficient to play more games than to buy more tickets for the same number of games. This is because if you buy more tickets to the same game, you are effectively competing with yourself. OK, the chances of winning a big prize are not very high for any single game, but if, say, you were to get two full houses from playing dozens of games, you will win two jackpots. But if you get two full houses from buying dozens of tickets in the same game, you have to share the spoils with yourself. Effectively, your two jackpots become just the one.
Of course, the chances of getting two jackpots in the same game is slim, but the slight probability of this actually happening is enough to swing the odds decisively toward the “play more games” option. One possible exception to this rule is if there is a guaranteed jackpot for a game. Here, you will need to make a judgement as to how “busy” you think the game will be. If the room seems crowded, the guarantee may be less than the jackpot would have been anyway, based on the value of the tickets bought. But if things seem a bit quiet, it may be worth buying a few extra tickets to increase your chances of the higher jackpot.
But there is another angle to bear in mind too. You are likely to get far more pleasure and excitement from playing more games than just having more tickets for the same game. Not only that, but (human nature being what it is) you may be tempted to play more games as well as forking out for the extra tickets. And buying lots of tickets AND playing more games is a fast track to losing control of your spending.
Ultimately, it is always worth remembering that bingo is supposed to be for fun. The real odds are always stacked in the site operators’ favour, simply because the Return to Player figures say so: the total amount available for prizes is less than the amount spent on tickets. But the point about bingo is that you could win. So from an entertainment point of view, you stand more chance of making some pennies with a few bingo cards than if you’d spent the same amount of money down the pub, or going to a local show, for example. You’ve got no chance of getting any money back from them.
So at the end of your bingo session, it’s probably worth assuming that you won’t even get back the money you spend on tickets. But it IS a fun game to play, and once in a while the balls may well fall in your favour. So surely the best strategy is to enjoy the entertainment, stick to your budget and enjoy the moment when your luck is in.