Bunco Night Done Right! How to Run a Monthly Group

Updated on June 2, 2016
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Around the 1st of every month I get together with a group of ladies for our monthly Bunco Night. We laugh, we cry and we cheer each other on. We also have fun spicing up our Bunco night with things like specialty themed drinks and themed evenings. We've had hippie night were we all brought out our bellbottoms, 80's night where there was lots of hairspray and Sports Jersey night in honor of the big game. The ideas are endless!

Bunco is an easy to learn dice game that is loads of fun. Anyone can play and if you get a good group together, you'll be playing for years to come. There are many ways to play bunco, but for purposes of this article, I am going to tell you how our group of 12 plays. We are still going strong after 2 years so we definitely know how Bunco night is done right!

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Setting up a group

When you're ready to set up your bunco group find 11 people (plus you = 12) that are interested in playing. In our case, we all knew each other through our kids and we had one person coordinating. We started by having a meet and greet bunco night and ended the evening getting our plans laid out.

  1. Determine a good day to meet. We alternate between the first Friday and first Saturday of the month. If it happens to fall on a holiday we move it to the next weekend. We also decided to skip July since that is a big vacation month for most folks.
  2. We all chose a month to host. One person loved Valentine's day so she got February, another member's family all had birthdays in December so that was out for her. It really wasn't hard to decide.
  3. Decide what kind of prizes you are going to have or if you are even going to have prizes. We agreed on cash prizes. At the beginning of the night everyone puts $5 in a basket and when the evening ends the winners get the money. We break it down like this: $20 - Most Wins, $20 - Most Buncos, $15 - Most Baby Buncos, and $5 - Most Losses. I'll go over some definitions a little bit later.
  4. Figure out how to do the refreshments. We didn't want to put the burden of food on the person hosting the month so we came up with a schedule. The host/hostess is only responsible for the drinks and a few little nibblers like nuts or candies. The person who hosted the month BEFORE is responsible for bringing the appetizer. The person who is going to host the NEXT month is responsible for the dessert. We still get confused by this so here is an example for the month of March. If Jane hosts February, Susie hosts March and Mary hosts April then Jane brings an appetizer, Susie (the March host) provides a few snacks and Mary brings the dessert for March Bunco Night.
  5. Get a substitute list together. This is essential because there is usually at least one person absent each month. It's easy to find subs because people always want to join in the fun. Our coordinator keeps tally of how many times a substitute has played. When someone drops out of the group, the person who has subbed the most gets invited to join the group.
  6. Have a coordinator. Ours uses Facebook to keep us all organized, reminding us that our evening is coming up and finding out who can't come so we can get a substitute. She gives us a schedule at the beginning of the year and she keeps tabs on all of the scores for all of the players.

Here's what you'll need

  • 12 chairs (or places to sit)
  • 3 tables (we have split a huge dining table and used coffee tables, anything works)
  • 9 dice
  • 12 pieces of scrap paper
  • 12 scorecards
  • 12 pens/pencils
  • 1 bell

Bunco Scoring (example when round is ones)

Click thumbnail to view full-size
BUNCO!  3 of a kind if the round is on ones, the score = 21.  If you at the head table, ring the bell. Play ends.  You and your partner won that round!  If you are not at head table keep rolling until round ends.  Mark your Bunco on your score sheet.BABY BUNCO!  3 of a different number if the round is on ones, the score = 5.  Keep rolling and don't forget to mark your baby bunco on your score sheet.If the round is on ones this roll's score = 2 (2 ones are rolled).  Keep rolling.If the round is on ones this roll's score = 1 (1 one is rolled).  Keep rolling.If the round is on ones this roll's score = 0.  Pass the dice to the next player.
BUNCO!  3 of a kind if the round is on ones, the score = 21.  If you at the head table, ring the bell. Play ends.  You and your partner won that round!  If you are not at head table keep rolling until round ends.  Mark your Bunco on your score sheet.
BUNCO! 3 of a kind if the round is on ones, the score = 21. If you at the head table, ring the bell. Play ends. You and your partner won that round! If you are not at head table keep rolling until round ends. Mark your Bunco on your score sheet. | Source
BABY BUNCO!  3 of a different number if the round is on ones, the score = 5.  Keep rolling and don't forget to mark your baby bunco on your score sheet.
BABY BUNCO! 3 of a different number if the round is on ones, the score = 5. Keep rolling and don't forget to mark your baby bunco on your score sheet. | Source
If the round is on ones this roll's score = 2 (2 ones are rolled).  Keep rolling.
If the round is on ones this roll's score = 2 (2 ones are rolled). Keep rolling. | Source
If the round is on ones this roll's score = 1 (1 one is rolled).  Keep rolling.
If the round is on ones this roll's score = 1 (1 one is rolled). Keep rolling. | Source
If the round is on ones this roll's score = 0.  Pass the dice to the next player.
If the round is on ones this roll's score = 0. Pass the dice to the next player. | Source

How to play

With your group of 12 set, you are ready to play. You'll need 3 tables labeled High, Medium and Low. The high table has a bell and starts and ends the rounds with it. There is a bell in the game box we have, but some hosts take it to the next level and bring out a cowbell or something else fun.

  1. Place 3 dice and 4 pens/pencils at each table.
  2. Everyone gets a scorecard (see example below). The host marks 4 cards with an H (high table), 4 with an M (medium table) and 4 with an L(low table). Each player chooses a scorecard without looking and goes to the table marked. Everyone also gets a piece of scrap paper to keep tally.
  3. Once you get to your table, the person sitting across from you is your partner for that round.
  4. The goal of the game is that you and your partner get the most rolls of the number of the current round. For example: the first round is 1's so everyone tries to roll 1's, the 2nd round is 2's so everyone tries to roll 2's etc...until you finish with 6's. That completes one game.
  5. Determine if you or your partner will be keeping score before the bell rings. We just use hashmarks to keep tally on the scrap paper.
  6. PLAY: The high table starts the first round by ringing the bell. The first person at every table (the first person who grabs the dice) starts by rolling. If they roll the number of the current round on at least one die, a Baby Bunco (three of a kind that IS NOT the current round's number) or a Bunco (three of a kind that IS the current round's number) then the player keeps rolling. If the player doesn't get any of the above, the dice get passed to the person on their left. (See photos of dice above for examples and scoring information)
  7. SCORING: Every time you roll that round's number, you get a point. A baby bunco gets your team (you and your partner) 5 points. A bunco gets your team 21 points. The person keeping track of the score uses hash marks that are added at the end of the round to determine which team wins the round. *If you roll a Bunco or Baby Bunco, mark your scorecard so you can keep track. Only mark those which you rolled, not the ones your partner rolled.*
  8. ENDING THE ROUND: The high table ends the round. Once a team at the high table has hit 21 points, they ring the bell and the round has ended. Each team at every table adds up their points and the pair with the highest score are the winners. *After every round mark your score card with either a "W" for a win or "L" for a loss.*
  9. SWITCHING SEATS AFTER EACH ROUND: If you are a winner at the low and medium tables, you and your partner move up to the next highest table (low goes to medium, medium goes to high) making sure you don't partner up for the next round. If you are a winner at the high table, you and your partner stay at the high table making sure one of you switches a seat so you don't partner up for the next round. If you are a loser at the low and medium tables you stay at that table and either you or your partner switches seats. If you are a loser at the high table, you and your partner move to the low table for the next round.
  10. ENDING THE GAME: Once 6 rounds have been completed (1's, 2's, 3's, 4's, 5's and 6's) the first game is complete. We play 3 games, breaking after the 2nd one for refreshments.
  11. AT THE END OF THE NIGHT: It's important to mark your score card. If you forget, you may not win any prizes. Once everything has been tallied, the winners are announced. If there is a tie for one of the categories, we have a roll off. Whoever gets the highest number wins the prize. We give prizes for the following: MOST BUNCOS, MOST BABY BUNCOS, MOST WINS and MOST LOSSES.

Bunco scorecard example

 
BUNCO SCORECARD
 
NAME:_______________________
 
Month:_______________
# of Buncos:________
# of Baby Buncos:______
 
# of Wins:_________
# of Losses:________
 
 
 
 
GAME 1
GAME 2
GAME 3
1's_____(W or L)
1's_____(W or L)
1's_____(W or L)
2's_____(W or L)
2's_____(W or L)
2's_____(W or L)
3's_____(W or L)
3's_____(W or L)
3's_____(W or L)
4's_____(W or L)
4's_____(W or L)
4's_____(W or L)
5's_____(W or L)
5's_____(W or L)
5's_____(W or L)
6's_____(W or L)
6's_____(W or L)
6's_____(W or L)

Roundup

At the end of the year we have big Christmas bash. Anyone who played during the year is invited. We have a cookie exchange and a Secret Santa game. We manage to get Bunco in as well. The regulars chip in $20 and the substitutes chip in $5. None of the scores for this party count towards year end totals. At the end of the night our coordinator pays out the winners for the evening's game and then pays out for the year's overall winners. We divided up the money based on how many people came that night.

Bunco night is a great time with friends and family. Anone can play. It's an easy game to learn with minimal supplies needed and with a little preparation a fun time is guaranteed.

If you use these tips your Bunco Night will always be Done Right!



Questions & Answers

    © 2012 Claudia Mitchell

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      • Glimmer Twin Fan profile imageAUTHOR

        Claudia Mitchell 

        5 months ago

        More people can play, you just have to substitute people in. When we had extra we would rotate between rounds and some of us would have snacks and chat while the others played. It always works out.

      • profile image

        Delores 

        5 months ago

        Can only 12 people play? We have about 2o ladies who want to start a Bunco group.

      • profile image

        Kellie 

        11 months ago

        What if someone wanted to bring a guest? And if no subs available do you play with a ghost?

      • profile image

        Ellen Startz 

        15 months ago

        I'm looking to join a bunco club in the New Lenox area. Are there any around. I haven't been able to find any.

      • Glimmer Twin Fan profile imageAUTHOR

        Claudia Mitchell 

        2 years ago

        Glad you enjoyed this article Blond Logic! Bunco really is fun and a great way to keep in touch with friends. Thanks for stopping by.

      • Blond Logic profile image

        Mary Wickison 

        2 years ago from Brazil

        When I lived in the States I use to play every month, and loved it. Unless my hair was on fire, I made Bunco a priority. It was such a fun get together with everyone.

        I hadn't thought about that in ages, thanks for the trip down memory lane.

      • Glimmer Twin Fan profile imageAUTHOR

        Claudia Mitchell 

        5 years ago

        Hi Mary - Bunco is a blast an a great way to blow off some steam with friends. I hope you give it a try! Thanks for visiting.

      • Mary Merriment profile image

        Mary Merriment 

        5 years ago from Boise area, Idaho

        Sounds like a fun way to get together with others on a regular basis. I love all the ideas for organizing the get-together and especially appreciate the instructions for playing the game. What fun!

      • Glimmer Twin Fan profile imageAUTHOR

        Claudia Mitchell 

        5 years ago

        Carol - You should get a group together. It really is loads of fun! Thanks for reading.

      • carol7777 profile image

        carol stanley 

        5 years ago from Arizona

        I have never played this game but know many people who do enjoy it. It just sounds like a fun way to get together and have fun.

      • Glimmer Twin Fan profile imageAUTHOR

        Claudia Mitchell 

        6 years ago

        You should try to join them sometime. It really is a good time. Thanks for the comment.

      • teaches12345 profile image

        Dianna Mendez 

        6 years ago

        I have some friends who are really into this game. It does sound like fun and if they have food as posted in your article, it is really a great time!

      • Glimmer Twin Fan profile imageAUTHOR

        Claudia Mitchell 

        6 years ago

        Thanks for the comment! You have to try it. It really is loads of fun. The best part is anybody can play. Let me know if you like it!

      • fpherj48 profile image

        Paula 

        6 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

        Hey...Thanks for this !! Never heard of Bunco...but it sounds like a great game for Game Night with friends!!

        There's only so many times you can play the same 2 or 3 games over and over! We play a lot of Scrabble and Trivia. It's all great fun and we enjoy ourselves.......but I think this "Bunco" will be a welcome change!! Thanks again!! UP++

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