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Guide to Playing Bingo Online

Aug 17, 2007
Playing bingo online can be a daunting task for the beginner. However, it doesn't need to be such a scary scenario. This guide attempts to walk you through the most common online bingo questions.

The most commonly asked question is about bingo bonuses. These are a device used by the vast majority of online bingo sites in order to persuade prospective players to use their service. They are sometimes called other names, such as 'Bingo Bucks', but all of these schemes are very similar.

Essentially, bingo bonuses can be thought of as credits which you can use to play bingo games without actually having to spend 'real' money. Different sites operate different schemes, but the majority give a sign-up bonus; that is, they will give you a certain amount of cash with which you can play, simply for signing up to their site. The terms of these bonuses vary. Some sites require that you make a deposit before you can claim the free cash, while others will credit your virtual account without you having to spend anything at all.

Deposit bonuses are also popular, and are available on many bingo sites. These bonuses work on the basis that the site wants you to keep playing. They will then offer to further credit your account by matching a proportion of your first few deposits. The number of deposits that they will offer a bonus on, and the size of the bonuses, depends on the site. However, it is not uncommon to see sites offering to credit your account with 100% of the value of your first three deposits.

You should bear in mind that the rules around withdrawing bonus dollars are often strict. Generally, you will be required to use the bonuses in bingo games a set number of times before you can withdraw them as real money.

Once you have made a deposit, you're ready to play. Bingo's immense popularity is, in great part, as a result of its simplicity. Although the game has evolved slightly for an online audience, the basic principles remain intact.

In the first instance, you will be given a virtual bingo card, which will have a certain number of columns and rows, depending on which variety of the game you are playing. Often, the word BINGO will be spelt out at the top of the card, with each of the five letters naming one of the columns.

In traditional bingo, a caller would then randomly choose a combination of letter and number, for example B-2. At this point, you would look to your card. If you had a 2 in one of the rows in your B column, you would cross it off. Of course, in online bingo this process is rather more automated, although you will still be required to mark your virtual card yourself.

The ultimate aim of the game is to mark off squares on your card until you have achieved a set pattern. There are literally hundreds of possible patterns in online bingo, with some games assigning different arrangements to different cards. You will also have a free square. This can be used as a wildcard, and marked off in order to help you fulfil the pattern.

Once you have matched the marks on your card to the pattern for which you are aiming, you can call BINGO. If you are the first player to do so, you will win. Some sites will automatically call bingo for you if you have forgotten to mark a couple of squares, while others leave the responsibility entirely up to you.

Most websites offer both 75 ball bingo (popular in North America) and 90 ball bingo (more popular in Europe).

One of the great joys of online bingo, as with any other web-based game, is the ability to communicate with other players. Speaking to people who are participating in the same activity as you means that you are likely to find a good number of like-minded individuals and, of course, they could be anywhere in the world.

In order to capitalize on this community spirit amongst online gamers, the vast majority of bingo sites now offer chat functions. This is one of the major contrasts between online bingo and the real life version of the game, in which talking is very much discouraged in order to ensure that players are not distracted.

Chatting is very easy while playing. Generally, the site will require you to download a piece of software to your computer through which you play the games. This software will probably have a chat window or 'pane', giving a live feed of what is being said by other players. In order to chat, all you need to do is type into the box and hit the return key. Some slightly more sophisticated sites offer lobbies, in which you can chat to other players between games. This is often the way in which players get to know each other best, away from the pressures of the game itself.

You may also notice the presence of chat monitors, or CMs. These are employees of the site, who are charged with welcoming new players and ensuring that the site's own etiquette rules are upheld.

Getting money to online bingo halls is easy. All sites accept credit cards, along with online wallet solutions such as Neteller, Citadel and many more. If you win and wish to make a withdrawal, most online bingo halls send you your money within 24 hours.

In all, playing bingo online is a fun and satisfying experience that allows you to meet new friends and create a whole new social network. I'd highly recommend giving it a try.
About the Author
Sam Wolfe has been playing bingo online for over 6 years and has tried all online bingo sites over that time. She now consults with online bingo halls and advises on the all important player satisfaction aspects. Highly recommended online bingo halls are found in an excellent resource available at http://galabingo.yourbestbingo.co.uk.
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