As busy moms, we sometimes don’t carve out enough time for friends and fun, and if we do, it’s usually once in a blue moon. If you’re craving some lady time that is consistent, fun, and “rewarding”, then consider creating a Bunco group with your gal pals!
Bunco? You mean the game that my grandma plays at her retirement home? Yup, that’s the one! But, believe it or not, it’s a game that has no age prejudice and is just as fun if you’re 20 or 80. Grandma may or may not bring the booze, but we bet she loves the quality time spent with her friends, the magical feeling of lady luck on her shoulder, and the chance of becoming Bunco Queen as she shuffles back to her room with a wad of cash in hand.
It is more about the game and the money though. It is about having a set time aside to connect with friends, although many husbands hypothesize that it is actually an excuse for ladies to get together to drink wine, which may or may not be the case. Cheers!
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What is Bunco?
Bunco is a simple dice game, that has no strategy or skill involved, but is based purely on luck. There is some dice, a basic scoring system, a handful of rules, and if you choose to (and we do suggest that you choose to), you can bring a gambling aspect into the game, which ups the ante a bit.
Who plays Bunco?
Gather up some ladies, whether they are your close friends, neighbors, book club gals, friends of friends, the girl you met at Costco, or your sister-in-law; any woman who loves a good game night, female camaraderie, food, drinks, and laughter.
You need 12 people to play, so send out an Evite, word of mouth, or Facebook announcement to gather up your gamers.
When will your Bunco group meet?
Your Bunco group will meet once a month for 1 year. Once you have your ladies gathered, decide on a set day of the month that everyone is available. That could be the second Tuesday of every month at 6 pm, for example. Obviously, that date can fluctuate slightly depending on the schedules of 12 women, we all know that is not an easy feat! However, the goal is to keep your Bunco nights as consistent as possible.
If a woman can’t play one month, she needs to find a sub to take her place, as Bunco has to be played with exactly 12 people. Have her send her BFF, her sister, or her hair lady over in her place. This is another great aspect of Bunco; being able to meet lots of different women every month. Usually, unless you have a miraculous group, someone isn’t able to show up one month, and there will be a sub in her place. Who knows? that sub could end up being your new best friend!
Let’s be honest, the older we get, the harder it is to meet new friends. Your bunco group is the perfect way to meet new girlfriends.
Where will your Bunco Group meet?
This is the fun part (who are we kidding, it’s all fun!). There are 12 Bunco-ers and 12 months in a year, so each month, one woman hosts Bunco at her house. Before Bunco starts, or on the first night, send around a sign-up sheet so each woman can decide what month she wants to host.
As the hostess, you set up the Bunco supplies, and you supply food and drinks. You can choose to have dinner, appetizers, or desserts and cocktails, depending on what time your group chooses to meet each month. It works best if everyone eats before playing, as you’re guaranteed to have spills and messes if you play a high-intensity dice game with 12 wine-drinking women. Make the food decisions and timing together as a group, at the same time you’re choosing when to meet.
Again, this helps spread the friend-love; being able to fellowship together in each other’s homes, and it helps ease the financial burden of one person hosting and feeding 12 people every month for a year.
What Is Needed For A Bunco Game?
Before beginning your first Bunco game, you (who are setting this whole shindig up) need to get:
- 18 basic dice
- 12 pencils
- Score Cards (Table Score Cards and Individual Score Cards): Make a whole stack of them to last you all year. And seriously, we mean to make them; use a word processing program and print them out at home.
- Table numbers (#1, #2, #3)
- A table bell, or something similar
- Cheap bag for carrying the supplies from house to house
Whoever is hosting needs to have three tables available. They need to be shaped and sized to accommodate 4 women each sitting down, with 2 women across from each other. The tables shouldn’t be too close together, but also not upstairs and downstairs. Depending on how your house layout is, you can decide where to put the tables and which ones to use. For example, you could use your dining room table, breakfast table, and a small card table.
Each table gets:
- A table number
- 6 Dice
- 4 Individual Score Cards
- 1 Table Score Card
- 4 Pencils
- and 4 women seated with (optional…say what!?) drink in hand.
- Table #1 (known as the “head table”) gets the table bell.
If your group has decided to try to make a buck or two off of each other, then have every player bring $5 to each game. Have everyone throw the money into a pot before the game starts, cross your fingers, and let lady luck take it from here!
How To Play Bunco
- There are 6 rounds, played 4 times. Table #1 always starts and ends each round by ringing the bell.
- Each round consists of a target-number, starting with 1 and going through 6. So for the first round, you want to roll 1s, second round, you want to roll 2s, third round, you want to roll 3s, etc.
- The person across from you is your “partner” and you both are trying to roll the most of whatever number round you are on, together as a team, yet ultimately it’s an individual winning game. Confused yet? Keep reading!
- When Table #1 gets to 21 points, that round is over, signified by the ringing of the bell.
One person at the table fills out the Table Score Card, for each round. It doesn’t matter who does it, just someone has to. Each person fills out their Individual Score Card at the end of each round (be sure to write your name at the top of your scorecard). The Table scorekeeper keeps track of how many times a “team” rolls the target number for that round, thus tallying up how many 1s (if on Round 1) they rolled.
There is an US and THEM column on the Table Score Card where the Table scorekeeper keeps track of the two “team’s” scores. US is the scorekeeper and her teammate, THEM is the other two girls at the table. At the end of the round, whichever team won that round (by rolling the most “target” numbers) they write a W in their Individual Score Card for that round, losers write a L.
- You get 1 point for every “target” number you roll.
- If you roll three-of-a-kind of any number other than the “target” number for that round, that’s a Mini Bunco, earning you 5 points.
- If you roll three-of-a-kind of the “target” number for that round, that’s BUNCO, earning you 21 points.
At the end of each round, you switch tables depending on whether you won or lost that round (thus meeting and playing with every woman in the game, another added friend-benefit!).
Table #1: WINNERS STAY, LOSERS LEAVE
Table #2 and #3: WINNERS LEAVE, LOSERS STAY
Table #1 LOSERS move to Table #3
Table #2 WINNERS move to Table #1
Table #3 WINNERS move to Table #2
For those who stay at a table at the end of a round, you and your teammate who you just played can’t play with each other for the next round, so have one of you move to the next seat over, so you’re playing with someone new for the next round. Who would have thought a dice game could be so active?! No wonder Grandma likes it!
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Time To Roll Those Dice!
So we just told you all the rules, you’ve got it, right? Ok, maybe not! So let’s try this. We are going to layout an example of a round to (hopefully) make it clearer.
Round Example – Round 1 sitting at Table #2
Table #1 rings the bell. That means the round has started.
You roll your 3 dice at the same time the girl across from you rolls hers. You’re trying to roll the most 1s together (cause you’re on Round 1).
You roll a 2-5-1 and she rolls a 1-1-4. The Table scorekeeper tallies up 3 points for THEM, because you and your teammate rolled 3 1s.
You and your teammate keep rolling and keep counting all the 1s you both roll, until neither one of you roll a 1. Then you give the dice to the other two girls and they try to roll for the most 1s.
You keep switching back and forth all the while rolling for 1s, while the Table scorekeeper keeps tallying up the number of 1s each team is rolling.
You roll a 3-3-3 and your teammate rolls a 6-1-4; your team get 6 points (5 points for the Mini Bunco you rolled and 1 point for the 1 your teammate rolled).
Next time you roll, you roll a 1-1-1 and your teammate rolls a 5-4-6; your team gets 21 points (21 points for the Bunco you rolled and 0 points since your teammate didn’t roll anything point-worthy).
At the bottom of your Individual Score Card, there is a place to tally up the amount of Buncos you roll in a whole game, so be sure to mark a tally in there for the Bunco you just rolled. Each time you roll a Bunco, add another tally mark.
Your table keeps rolling until you hear the bell from Table #1 (that means a team at Table #1 reached 21 points, ending that round).
Remember, only Table #1 decides when the round starts and ends. Sometimes it takes Table #1 a long time to reach 21 points, other times on the first team’s roll, someone rolls a Bunco and they are automatically at 21 points, ringing the bell before you even had time to roll a second time!
Your table counts up all the points each team received, and whichever team got the most points, they win, and they each write a W on their Individual Score Card, in space 1 (for the first round). The losers at the table each write an L on their Individual Score Card.
The winners move to Table #1 and the losers stay at Table #2 (remember, the losers can’t play with each other again for the next round, so have one girl move to a different seat at the table).
Once everyone has moved to their appropriate tables, then Round 2 begins, and you do the same thing over again, this time trying to roll for 2s.
Repeat rounds until you finish Round 6.
Then you play the same Rounds 1-6 again another 3 times.
At the end of the entire game, count how many Ws and Ls you have on your Individual Score Card, and write the number in the designated space at the bottom of your scorecard.
As with any new game, it’s confusing until you play it a few times and get the hang of it. So get out there with your girls and practice until you are rolling Buncos and ringing the bell just like a pro! Of course, there are no pro Bunco players since it is a game of chance, but I digress …
Show Me The Money
Time to channel your inner Jerry Maguire! After all four Rounds 1-6 are played and all the scorecards are filled up, it’s time for a round of high fives and to see who wins what (if you all brought moolah to the table that is). There are several ways to win money at the end of a game, so chances are pretty good that you’ll at least win your money back and break even. Delegate someone to gather up all the Individual Score Cards and to see who wins what. Divvy up the money this way:
- Most Ws (wins) = $25
- Most Buncos = $15
- Most Ws (wins) 2nd Place = $10
- Most Ws (wins) 3rd Place = $5
- Most Ls (losses) = $5 (see, sometimes it’s good to lose!)
But even if you do not win any money back, that is not what it is about, is it? A bunco group is a way to connect with a group of girls on a regular basis when we know how easy it is to reschedule a simple catch up with a friend.
Pack up the Bunco supplies, toss them in the Bunco bag, and send them with the girl who is hosting next month. Give your old and new friends hugs, see them out the door, then plop down in your messy kitchen and savor the last couple hours that were filled with girl talk, gut laughter, and wine guzzling, all while slowly flipping through the stack of 5 dollar bills that made its way into your hands by good old lady luck.
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Photo Credits: Dani