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Official Bunco Rules? - Kind of! - 9/20/2006

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Official Bunco Rules? – Kind of! By Elle J. Miller

“I want to play Bunco ... tell me how.” Although Bunco does have rules ... officially, there are no SET rules. Like the attitude of the game, the rules are meant to be changed and adjusted to whatever makes your time together playing Bunco the most fun for your group. The more groups I question about how they play the game, the more variety of rules I’ve found, and the more I got confused about the Official Game Rules! So ... since there are no OFFICIAL rules for Bunco, I am going to try to inform you of the basic rules, and allow your imagination and group to change whatever feels best and works best for your group dynamics. As long as everyone in your group knows YOUR game rules, it will be fine. Just make sure you write them down (and give out copies) so there will be no questions later!


Set up 3 tables: Head Table, Middle Table and Losing Table. (Some groups call them High, Middle, and Low). On each table you should have a score sheet, pencils and 3 dice. A bell is placed on the Head Table and a large fuzzy die is placed on the Losing Table.

Who sits where? Take 12 individual score cards and number them 1-12. Have each person draw a card. 1-4 sits at the Head Table, 5-8 at the Middle Table, 9-12 at the Losing Table. They would also sit in that order at each table, so teammates can be decided. Teammates are sitting across from each other. Pick one person on each team to tally points during each round.

There are 6 rounds in each set of Bunco. The Head table starts and ends the round by ringing the bell. The scorekeeper at each table is the first to roll. Players gain points by rolling 3 dice. For each round, players try to roll the same number as the round (i.e. in Round 3, rolling a dice with 3 dots). This is also called the target number. One point is given for each target number rolled. For example, in round 3 you roll a 1, a 2, and a 3. The “3" would give you one point.

5 points are given when you roll three of a kind of any number BUT the Target number, and when you roll 3 dice with the Target number on it, you earn 21 points. Of course, you have to loudly yell out “BUNCO” to get those points, but you’ll be so excited – that will be easy! Make sure you give yourself on your score sheet one Bunco point.

Players roll as long as they continue scoring one or more points. When they do not throw at least one dice with the Target number, or 3 of a kind, they pass the dice to the player on the left. The scorekeeper then records the score on the Tally Pad as a temporary team score.

The round is over at any table when one team reaches 21 points. When the Head Table reaches 21 points, they ring the bell and the round is over for everyone. Players at the Middle and Losing table do get to finish their rolls, however. Every player gets at least one roll per round.

The winning team from the Middle Table and Losing Table move up to a higher table. The losing team from the Head table moves to the low table. During the switch, partners are changed. This is why it’s important to keep your own score sheet. Write a W (win) or L (lose) on your sheet for each round. Also remember to mark down any Buncos you had during that round.

Some groups play two sets of Bunco, and then take a break to eat or snack. Then they continue with 2 more sets. The game ends when all 4 sets have been completed. Each person then totals their Buncos, Wins and Losses from each round and writes the totals at the bottom of their sheets. Prizes are then given out.

A Tie!?? What if there’s a tie? If both teams have a tied score at the end of the round, they will do a roll-off. Starting with Player #1, each player is allowed to roll for another session and accumulate points to break the tie.

What about the Fuzzy Dice? The fuzzy dice is used if you want to add Traveling to your game. Not all groups do this, and not all groups use fuzzy dice ... a SOFT toy or Bunco Bear can be substituted. Why SOFT? Because Traveling occurs when a Bunco is rolled. The person in possession of the Fuzzy Die or Bunco Bear THROWS the die/bear at the person who called Bunco! The person with possession at the end of the game wins a prize or keeps the bear.

Prizes? Did someone mention prizes? Prizes are optional and can be anything. The group can decide to bring $5 or $10 each gathering and use that, or you can have fun prizes (related to the theme of the night if you have one). What can you award prizes for? Well, of course for WINNING! But also for Most Buncos, Most Wins, Most Loses, First Bunco, Best Costume (if theme-related), and of course the person holding the Fuzzy Die.

The biggest prize, of course is the fun time you all had together playing Bunco.

About the Author: Elle J. Miller is a freelance writer for, where you will find helpful information about bunco, the bunco rules, bunco games, bunco supplies, party favors and gifts. Copyright © 2006 Bunco Game Shop. This article may be freely distributed if this resource box stays attached. You can write to Elle J. Miller at