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How To Play Bunco: Bunco Rules

Overview

This post is about how to play Bunco, a popular dice game for a large social gathering. An alternate spelling for Bunco is Bunko so both names refer to the same game. The game is traditionally played by 12 players divided into three tables with each table having four players. However, if there are enough players to complete more tables, they can be accommodated so far each table has four players. The four players on each table are paired into two teams. Bunco gameplay is described below, as well as Bunco rules and objectives. 

Objective

Have the most Buncos and wins at the end of the game.

Bunco Rules

The following are some Bunco rules that guide how the game is played.

.The head table dictates the pace of the game. At the start of each round, a player on the head table will ring the bell. Also, once a team on the head table reaches 21 points, they ring the bell to officially end the round.

.Players taking their turns when the head table rings the bell to signify the end of a round must be allowed to finish their turns.

.Teammates must sit opposite each other.

.A player earns points and keeps their turn alive by rolling the round number at least once on each roll. Each time a player rolls the round number at least once, they get to roll again. A player’s turn only ends if they roll and score no points.

.A three-of-a-kind roll of the round number is called a Bunco. A player that rolls a Bunco earns 21 points for their team and also gets to mark the Bunco section of their score sheet.

.A three-of-a-kind roll of any other number is worth 5 points.

.At the end of each round, a winning team emerges on each table. If there is a tie on any of the tables, the tie is resolved by having representatives of each team roll a die. The highest roll wins it for their team. The players on the winning teams for each table will write W on their score sheet while players on the losing teams will write L on their score sheets.  

.Players change positions before a new round starts. The winning team at the head table from the last round retains their place while the losing team moves to the middle table. 

.The winning team at the middle table from the last round moves to the head table while the losing team moves to the losing table.

.The winning team at the losing table from the last round moves to the middle table while the losing team retains its place at the losing table. 

.Players switch partners at the start of each round to make the game livelier. 

.6 rounds must be played to complete a set of Bunco. A game may last 2 to 4 sets.

Number of Players Needed

12 players

Equipment

  • 3 tables with 4 chairs each
  • 3 Dice per table.
  • One Bunco table tally per table.
  • A bell for the head table.
  • One Bunco score sheet per player. The score sheet can be downloaded over the internet.
  • One pencil per player.

Setting Up

The game is played with three tables 1, 2, and 3. Table 1 is the head table, table 2 is the middle table, and table 3 is the losing table. Each table is furnished with the same set of playing equipment which consists of three dice, one Bunco table tally, four Bunco score sheet (one for each player on the table), and four pencils (one for each player on the table). The head table gets extra playing equipment, a bell with which the game is controlled.

The head table is the best of the three tables while the losing table is the worst. To assign players to the head table, collect all 12 score sheets and have someone draw small stars on four of the sheets. Shuffle the sheets and have each player select one. The players who pick the sheets with stars will start the game at the head table. The remaining players are assigned to the other tables. Each table accommodates 4 players and once this has been sorted, divided the occupants of each table into teams of 2. Teammates sit opposite each other. Appoint a scorekeeper for each team who keeps track of scores for their team.

How to Play Bunco

This section explains how to play Bunco in detail. The game is played in rounds, with 6 rounds completing a set of Bunco. 2 to 4 sets may be played to make the game last longer. A player at the head table rings the bell to signify the commencement of a round of the game. Once the bell is rung, all the tables commence playing simultaneously.

One player at each table picks the 3 dice and rolls them to start play. Play passes to the left after that player’s turn ends. The players try to obtain the round number in their rolls. Each Bunco round corresponds to a number on the die i.e. round 1 = 1, round 2 = 2, round 3 = 3 and so on. So in round 1, players try to roll 1s, in round 2 players try to roll 2s, in round 3 players try to roll 3s and so on. Note that the number obtained on each die is read separately and not added together

A player taking their turn must roll the round number at least once on each roll to score points and keep their turn alive. Each time a player rolls the round number, they get to roll again. Points are awarded as follow. 

In round 1, each 1 rolled is worth 1 point (maximum of 3 points per roll)

In round 2, each 2 rolled is worth 2 points (maximum of 6 points per roll)

In round 3, each 3 rolled is worth 3 points (maximum of 9 points per roll)

In round 4, each 4 rolled is worth 4 points (maximum of 12 points per roll)

In round 5, each 5 rolled is worth 5 points (maximum of 15 points per roll)

In round 6, each 6 rolled is worth 6 points (maximum of 18 points per roll)

If three-of-a-kind of the round number is rolled, that’s a Bunco and the player must call out “Bunco” to notify the others. The player earns 21 points for their team and also gets to place a check next to the Bunco section of their scorecard. The player continues to roll until they get a non-scoring roll.

If three-of-a-kind of any number is rolled, the feat is worth 5 points.

Once the player rolls and scores no points, their turn ends. The scorekeeper for the player’s team tallies the team’s total points up to that point on the table tally and play passes to the left.

A round of Bunco ends when a team on the head table earns 21 points or more. The player who scored the winning points for the team will ring the bell to officially end the round. However, all the players taking their turns including the player that rang the bell must be allowed to finish their turns. They will keep rolling the dice until they earn no points on a dice roll.

After a round is concluded, teams on the same table will compare scores to determine the winning team for that table. If there is a tie on any table, the tie must be resolved. Two players from both teams will face off by rolling a die once. The player who rolls the highest number wins it for their team. The players on the winning teams for each table will write W on their score sheet while players on the losing teams will write L on their score sheets.  

The winning team at the head table will retain their place while the losing team will move to the middle table. The winning team at the middle table will move to the head table while the losing team will move to the losing table. The winning team at the losing table will move to the middle table while the losing team retains its place at the losing table. The players will switch partners to make the game livelier. A new round commences with the ringing of the bell by a player at the head table.

Play continues until the end of the 6th round, to complete a set of Bunco. 2 or more sets may be played to make the game last longer. At the end of the game, each player will tally the number of Buncos they have, as well as the number of wins and losses. Either the player with the most buncos is declared the winner, or the player with the most buncos and wins is declared the winner depending on the initial agreement.

Winning the Game

Players earn Buncos for rolling three-of-a-kind of the round number at any round. The player with either the most Buncos or the most Buncos and wins at the end of the game is declared the winner. Now that you know how to play Bunco, fancy a game with your friends?

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