Sunday, February 5, 2012


Jumbo Boy (front and centre) and The Inspector (apparently inspecting his own navel)

It came to light recently that two of my colleagues are super into Bingo.  Ken and I had already played once with my friend and colleague Val.  This time we arranged to go with Val, Val's guy, and the other manager, Annie.

The Bingo hall was crammed.  There were 15 prizes of $1,000 to be won over the course of the evening, and that's more than enough scratch to draw a crowd.  As we stood in line to buy our cards, I admired the decor.  The previous hall we'd been to was dim, damp, and had rain dripping from holes in the roof into big plastic trash cans throughout the room.  This new establishment used to be a banquet hall, so it was bright, watertight, and sported crystal chandeliers instead of holes in the ceiling.

Val helped me figure out what to buy.  We stood in one line to buy books of Bingo cards and a chance for something called the Toonie Pot.  There was also something about an X,T, and L bonus, but don't ask me to explain it.  Val and Annie said that we'd have enough work to do just keeping up with the caller in this hall because he moved quickly from one number to the next.  They'd keep an eye on our cards and let us know if we could yell Bingo for any of the bonus prizes.

We stood in another line to buy "Balls" tickets.  The whole Balls thing is optional, but Ken was jazzed to play because he really wanted a chance to stand up in the middle of a crowded room and yell "Balls! I've got Balls over here!"

Balls tickets are made of two layers of thick paper.  You rip back the paper on the first layer to reveal three strips of potential prizes on the second layer.  It's kind of a low-tech version of the one-armed bandit.  You end up with three rows of symbols: fruits or shamrocks etc.  If you're lucky, you get three Bingo balls.  Then if you're extra-lucky, those three Bingo numbers get called in one game before Bingo is called.  Once they call the third number you yell "Balls!" and win a cash reward.

I bought Ken $10 worth of Balls tickets, at $1 each.  He ripped open all the paper strips, and guess what he got?  Bubkas.  Zip. Nada.  No balls at all.  He was severely disappointed.

We played through the two hours (with an intermission in the middle) and boy, they weren't kidding when they said this caller was quick.  We were playing a four-strip, meaning that there were twelve Bingo cards to each game, divided into four vertical panels, with each Bingo number appearing once in each panel.  The number would be called and you'd have to find the number four times, once in each panel, and dab them all, quick-like-a-bunny, because if you hesitated you would miss the next number, and once you fell behind there wasn't much hope of catching up.  I got dizzy because I was focusing so hard that I forgot to breathe.

You can get a little ahead of the caller by watching the TV monitors that are mounted everywhere.  They show the Bingo ball a couple of seconds before it's called over the PA system.  I would dab my numbers fastfastfast and then snap my head up and stare at the monitor to catch the next ball as soon as it was visible.  When there's a thousand dollars potentially riding on any missed number, you pay attention.

There were five of us there, and we made a deal that if we collectively won $250 or more we would split our winnings 5 ways.  Less than $250 and whoever won would just keep their cash.  It would have been a great system, if any of us had won anything, which we did not.

However, we had a good time, and actually did manage to socialize a little in the intermission, and during a couple of the "special" games where you only have to monitor one strip instead of four.  We're planning to do it again soon.  I know Ken won't be satisfied until he gets some Balls.


DarcKnyt said...

Well, I can hardly blame him. I mean, what man wants to spend his life knowing he could have had Balls but didn't get them? I have to side with Ken here. No Balls, no glory.

Glad you have fun. I'm hoping for a post about the tea party myself. :)

Warped Mind of Ron said...

Sorry to hear that Ken had no balls... hoping he gets them next time around. What you need for Bingo are some lucky troll dolls set up by your cards... I hear they work.

Sparkling Red said...

DarcKnyt: There's not much to tell about the tea party. We drank tea, ate cookies, and chitter-chatted. It was pleasant. That's about it. :-)

Ron: THAT'S why we didn't win! We didn't have the power of the trolls!

Tracy Makara said...

This post is so funny! Poor hubby didn't have any balls ;) I know what you mean about barely breathing. I've only played bingo a few times and whew! It takes work to keep up with all of it. Plus, the one game that I went to I won something like thirty dollars and the old women in the hall were seriously pissed. I wondered if I was going to make it out of there in one piece! It is sort of fun though. Love the pic of the kitties...they're so cute. The one in front reminds me of a cat that I had for over nine years...his name was Tinker. I called him that because he always had to get in on whatever anyone around him was doing...he was always busy.

Sparkling Red said...

Tracy: Seriously, your cat was named Tinker? That's some coincidence! This cat's name is Tinker! Jumbo Boy is just his nickname, as per the post before this one. Wow, that's amazing. If you think of all the cats in the world and all the names they could have, that we each have known a cat who looks like that and has the same name? That is off the hook.

DarcsFalcon said...

Life isn't nearly so fun if you can't stand up and shout, "I've got Balls over here!" I have often wished I could do that myself. :D

I played Bingo I think 2 or 3 times, must have been back in 1984. It was fast paced even then too, but there we no monitors. The ladies would tape all their cards to the table and it was some serious play, I tell you! A bit intimidating, lol.

Sounds like you had buckets of fun and that makes me happy. I wish you'd have won though! Maybe next time!

Granny Annie said...

Such an entertaining post, full of laughter and education:) It is interesting how we can have so much fun losing money as well as going home without balls.

LL Cool Joe said...

Well it sounds like an exhausting game to me. My eye hand co-ordination is not that great. Yeah I know, you'd think as a dj it would be, so I think I'd be about 2 steps behind everyone else anyway.

And the thought of going home without my balls on top of all that, would depress me for a week, or more. ;)

Glad you had fun!

Sparkling Red said...

DarcsFalcon: Oh yes, it's very serious. Val tapes her cards to the table. In fact, both Val and Annie come equipped with fully stocked Bingo kits, with tape and a rainbow of dabbers.

Granny Annie: I'm not much of a gambler, but Bingo certainly is one of the more amusing ways of losing money.

LL Cool Joe: Yup, I was pretty much Bingoed out after 2 hours. Ken, on the other hand, was pumped and ready for more! He tried to talk me into staying for the next session. He was convinced that if we stuck with it we would win. I wasn't sold on that idea, so we went home.

Jameil said...

LOLOL! I LOVE bingo! I've never played for money, though! I need to put that on one of my goal lists!

Tracy Makara said...

Wow! That's pretty neat. Yes, his name was Tinker...I loved that cat. Small world, even for animals huh?

Jenski said...

It could have been equally entertaining for Ken to jump up and yell, "I've got no BALLS!"

And look alike cats named Tinker is crazy!