In my years on this earth, I have played Bunco all of two times. It’s a game that requires little-to-no skill other than the ability to roll dice, looking at what numbers are on said dice, and eating snacks. There are a lot of snacks involved, which means it’s my kind of game.
Basically it works like this – in my beginner experience: there are three tables of four people. Tables range from winners to losers to extra losers (my terms, not theirs), and you all sit and roll dice. First you shoot for ones, then twos, and so on. After each round, winners (whoever got more of the designated number) moves up to a higher table, while losers move down. Simple enough, right?
It’s also pretty fun. Get all three of the number you’re after and it’s a Bunco, or get all three of a different number and it’s a mini. All of these state combined determine whether or not you have a chance at winning cash. Holla!
- No skills required
- Partners and tables are constantly rotating, so you aren’t stuck with a lame-wad of a partner all night
- Everyone’s odds are the same
- Fast-paced game
- You can sip on booze or tea or both, should your heart desire
- No skills required
- People’s living rooms aren’t meant to host three card tables at once, so there’s not much walking space
- You often have to have the same get-to-know you conversations several times
- Not all tables have the same rolling conditions (yeah this is a reach, but just go with it.)
The first group I played with was my grandma’s (you remember her as Face Eagle); they’re serious about their Bunco. If the head table hasn’t yet said go, someone is likely hounding them as to when the dice can begin rolling. Before that, someone already has dice in their hands and is ready to literally roll. There are a lot of good luck sayings and rituals, they believe the dice are either for or against them. Buncos are earned frequently and each earner shouts with pride.
Before starting, there are snacks (all provided by the host) and bathroom stops, as well as after, but definitely not during. Then winners are tallied by a group of pre-determined title holders who go into a separate room to find and double check winners, before conducting an award-like ceremony at the end of the event. (I earned $5, which was also the price of my entry fee.)
Thanking the hostess is the last important step in this compilation of Bunco steps. So much so that Face Eagle asked me in front of the crowd if I’d thanked her friend for the hospitality. (And yes, my 26-year-old self already had.)
The next group for which I subbed was my friend/cousin’s. She’s all of three weeks older than I, and her group is a range of ladies in their mid-20s to their 40s. Their Bunco is much more leisurely; fewer rules and more freedom. Players are free to snack as desired; foods are potluck and drinks BYOB. Bathroom breaks can be taken willy-nilly. Dice are rolled in a more subdued fashion; no one chomps at the hand-rolling bit should someone not throw fast enough. Few Buncos are earned.
We played two games in the time it took the older ladies to play four, with about a quarter of the rolls in-between.
And once it is prize time, everyone counts their own scores and awards areauctioned off – “Did anyone have seven wins? What about eight? Awesome you got the most!” I came out of this game with -$5.
The Take Aways
Age, apparently, has a huge effect on how you approach the game of Bunco. The older you become, the more seriously you take dice competitions. You are there to play Bunco, after all. Why would you not play it to the best of your abilities? And as intensely as time allows?
And to the younger Bunco players, enjoy your leisurely pace while it lasts.