“So, what’s a bunco party?” “Is that a gambling thing? Like poker? I don’t gamble.” These are some of the most common questions surrounding this popular game.
It’s not a surprise though, ‘bunco’ is a British word that means “a swindle.” However, bunco has nothing to do with swindling. Bunco is a cooperative dice game that is great for a large group.
It has a simple set up and it has very easy rules for new players to understand.
If you’ve been wondering what the purpose of a bunco party is or how to organize one, look no further! We’ve got everything you need to know about hosting the perfect bunco party right here.
What Is Bunco?
First of all, what is a bunco party? In the US, bunco has been around since the 1920s, but it’s still celebrated today. It is a social dice game for a group of friends or acquaintances, where everyone takes a turn at hosting and bringing food and prizes. The game consists of rolling three dice and trying to get certain numbers each round.
What kinds of prizes can you win? Just about anything! Some people play for a share of the cash pool, or prizes that can be anything from themed decor, to make-up, candles, chocolate, food or drinks.
Planning Your Bunco Party
The most common way to celebrate is by having a small party at someone’s home. When planning your bunco party, you should consider the following:
Bunco Game Kit
There are plenty of game kits available online, but you can DIY. The best number of players for Bunco is 12. However, for a smaller party, you can play with 8. If you’re an eight-player group, here are the most important parts of your kit.
- 8 printable score sheets
- 2 tables with 4 chairs at each
- 6 dice, 3 per table (bring extra dice just in case!)
- 8 pencils and pads, 1 per person
- 1 Bell to remain at the head table
- 1 giant, fuzzy traveling dice (or something else that can symbolize the dice, like a party crown)
- Prizes for the highest score, lowest score, and person with the most travels
- Usually, you need a minimum of eight players, so invite as many people as you can! A successful Bunco group usually has 20 or more members because several people may drop out at the last minute. If you have a large group of members – hopefully, a number that is workable will show up. To plan for bigger groups try using an app like Facebook Groups, Snapchat, Nextdoor, or Evite to see if you have friends and neighbors who are up for a good time.
- Bringing children. If children are attending the party, you’ll need to provide something for them to do.
- If you potluck the food and drink cost, your budget won’t need to be high. It’s a social game, so players pay a small entry fee of around $5 to $10, which winners can split at the end of the game. You can also take a cut of the entry fees to cover the cost of the game board, food, etc.
Food and Drinks
- Will your guests want food or refreshments? Perfect food choices for bunco parties include finger sandwiches, crudités, and chips with your favorite dips. Some Bunco groups come up with really cool, Bunco-themed snacks like dice cookies!
- You can also do a potluck with each guest bringing a dish.
- The size of your house or venue – will everyone fit? Do you have enough chairs? Each table needs to fit four players, so you need at least two tables for eight players. You can use a kitchen table, dining table, or even your coffee table!
- Music is a plus! It’s a great way to get in the spirit.
How To Play Bunco and Bunco Rules
Before the game
Bunco is a card game that is typically played in two to four sets of six rounds each. Players sit at several tables, with four people (two teams of two) at each, and each person sitting across from their partner.
One table is designated as the head table. At the head table, a player rings a bell to signal the start and end of each round.
During the game
The game starts
During the game, each player on a table rolls three dice in succession to attempt to earn points. All tables are in action at the same time.
The round starts
The simple rule is to roll the die and match the number of that round. For example, the player should roll a “one” in Round 1, a “two” in Round 2, and so on, until the group finishes six rounds. When a player rolls a number that matches the round number, he or she receives one point. If they don’t roll a “one” or any number corresponding to the round, the next player takes their turn.
You get five points if all three die match one another, but do not match the current round number. If all three dice match the current round number (a “bunco”), you’ll get 21 points. When Bunco is called, the team earns 21 points, but only the player who rolled it has the option of placing a check on the scorecard.
The other way to score a bunco and end the round is when any player reaches 21 points first.
Keep track of yours and your partner’s score with tally marks as the dice is rolled.
The round ends
When the round is over, whichever team has scored a bunco or 21 points wins and notes the bunco on their scoresheet. Each team from every table also notes a highest score win from their table. Players switch tables and/or partners at this moment. In a group of 12, the winning teams from the lower tables move up a table, while the losing team stays. At the head table, the winners stay and the losers move down to the lowest table. Partners should switch every time there is movement. This way there is always movement, rotation, and new people to play with!
Once someone has won three rounds, the game ends. Time to tally up those scores. If there is a tie for first place, you can either play another round or just decide the winner by rolling the dice (highest roll wins).
What to do if you have an uneven number of people for Bunco?
If you have an uneven number of people at a table for Bunco, you can have a “ghost” player. The ghost player is just an empty seat. The ghost’s partner rolls for the ghost and keeps the ghost’s points. If the partner rolls a travel for the ghost, the partner gets the points for the round, but the ghost gets the “travel” that counts toward “the most travels” prize in the end.
Fun Bunco Party Prizes
Points are nice, but who wants to add up their bunco rolls without getting anything in return? If you’re planning your party, here are some fun prizes that go along with it. Ask each player to bring a gift or contribute to the cash prize (usually through an entry fee). Some options to bring:
- Bottle of wine or champagne (if 21+)
- Cookie cutter in the shape of a rolled die (for baking and future bunco parties)
- White elephant gifts from home
- When all else fails, you can all contribute to buying winners’ trophies!
A Winning Bunco Celebration
If you’re the host and running low on supplies, ask your friends. They’ll most likely be able to help you out. Having a bunco party is all about getting together with friends and having a good time. If you take some time to plan everything out, you can relax and enjoy the party!
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