How to Pick Winning Bingo Cards

Bingo Cards With Bingo Markers

Bingo is a popular game of chance that’s so deeply ingrained in American culture, it’s earned carveouts in anti-gambling laws in dozens of states around the country. Bingo’s 500-year history is tied closely with the spread of the lottery, and the similarities don’t end there. The drawing system for most American lottery games is nearly identical to the drawing system for bingo numbers.

Learning how to pick winnings bingo cards means learning a little about game probability, a little about game psychology, and a lot about what actually will and won’t work to improve your chances of winning.

This post covers everything you need to know about picking bingo card winners.

Bingo Odds

A surprising amount of research has been done regarding the game of bingo and the science of probability.

A 2002 report by Science News found that there’s a 50% chance that one card in play will require no more than 41 calls to win. The same report posits an approximately-90% chance that a win will occur by the 54th call. Understand that these numbers are for a standard 75-ball game with traditional winning conditions.

Statistically, the number of rounds needed for a win goes down the more cards are involved.

Further Info:

After 28 numbers, a game with 50 cards has a 66% chance of ending, while a game with 100 cards has an 87.5% chance of ending. By the time you get to a 125-card game, there’s a 99.99% chance that it takes 28 numbers or less for a win to occur.

This strays a little ways off the focus of this post, but I found it interesting. The odds of a perfect call – when a player wins after just five numbers drawn – are 1 in 50,000. At three rounds of bingo per hour, a player would need to see more than 16,000 hours of play before witnessing a perfect call. That’s about 8,000 bingo sessions or 76 years of twice-a-week bingo play.

Picking Bingo Cards with Median Numbers

Can you win at bingo more often if you pick cards with numbers clustered around the middle? That’s the Tippett theory, and it’s been passed around bingo circles for decades.

Leonard Tippett is the name of the statistician who came up with the median numbers theory. It’s a repudiation of the theory of a rival named Granville, who thought that players should select cards with numbers as far apart as possible.

Tippett held that over time, the numbers drawn revert to the statistical mean of all balls. For a 75-ball game, which means the longer a bingo game goes, the more likely the numbers drawn will be close to 38, the average of all numbers in the game.

This theory has lots of practical flaws.


A major issue is implementation – most bingo games don’t allow you to choose your own card or paw your way through a pile of cards looking for a specific layout. It wouldn’t be easy to compare each card to the statistical middle, and it would take a lot of time.

I also take issue with the math. It’s not that over time the bingo numbers themselves are getting closer and closer to the magic number 38; it’s that the average of all collective numbers will move in that direction. That’s not really a workable strategy for bingo play.

It may also be difficult to implement a Tippett strategy if a game moves fast – which can happen randomly or due to low participation or low ticket sales.

I don’t think picking cards with median or extreme numbers is a winning way to play bingo.

Picking High-Frequency Bingo Numbers

The gambler’s fallacy is very much at work among bingo players.

This is the belief that an independent event (like the call of a number in bingo) can be influenced by previous outcomes. You’ll hear people talk about “hot and cold” bingo numbers, and online bingo games often post recent winning numbers and other number-based data to feed into this belief.

Remembering that each bingo outcome is independent of the outcomes before it, you probably won’t gain any real advantage by picking cards with high-frequency numbers.

Just because the number 5 has come up 15 times in the last 24 hours or whatever doesn’t mean that number is any more likely to appear in the next game.

The other side of this coin is picking low-frequency bingo numbers, believing that numbers which haven’t been called in a while are “due” to be called again soon. Again, this is the gambler’s fallacy. When a bingo number is called, the only thing you can be sure of is that this number won’t be called again during that particular game.

The gambler’s fallacy isn’t the only reason why picking high- or low-frequency numbers won’t help you win more at bingo. There’s also the practicality issue. Bingo cards are sometimes called semi-random because each column has a specific range of numbers that can appear. Column 1’s range is 1-15, while column 2’s range is 16-30, etc.

That makes finding a card with a specific set of numbers not just difficult but impossible based on the rules of most online and land-based bingo games. They’re just not going to let you shuffle through the cards for 15 minutes picking the one with all the hot or cold numbers you want.

Picking Lucky Bingo Numbers

Lots of gamblers are superstitious. The same line of thinking that leads to the gambler’s fallacy also pushes people in the direction of believing that some numbers are lucky or unlucky.

It’s hard to pick apart someone’s personal belief. If you are drawn to the number 15, and you want to pick a bingo card that contains the number 15, that’s just fine. I don’t think anyone is harmed by their belief in a lucky bingo number.

However, I do think attempting to pick bingo winners by buying a card with a specific number is going to work. Any bingo game I’ve ever seen involved an automatic issue of your bingo card, and the employees don’t strike me as the type that believes the customer is always right. Generally, you’re playing bingo with the card you’re sold, and that’s that.

Our next and final method of picking bingo winners may help. Read on, and you’ll see what I mean.

Buying More Bingo Cards Means Buying More Winning Bingo Cards

Picture your favorite bingo room. The popcorn is popping, the off-brand soda cans are being cracked and poured for $1 apiece, the instant-win ticket husks are already piling up, and everybody’s aunts and uncles are catching that one last smoke by the door before the game starts.

It’s a Tuesday night, you’ve got your cash, and you’re ready to play.


Let’s say you count 85 people about to play.

You realize that if you buy 15 tickets, the total number of players will be 100, and you’ll make up a full 15% of that number. You have a 15% chance of winning.

If you’d only bought 1 ticket, you’d have a 1.1% chance of winning.

Congratulations, you’ve just significantly increased your odds of picking a winning bingo card. In short, by buying more tickets, you increased your chances of winning by 14%, and you didn’t even have to look for any special numbers or arrangements of numbers.

This isn’t always practical. If a game’s prize package is low, buying 15 tickets may be too much sugar for a dime. If other players are buying multiple cards, the odds change a little. Plus, some bingo halls cap card buys per round.

It’s also true that you won’t know how many cards are in play or even how many people are playing – this is especially true for online players.

A smart move would be to set a unit bet in terms of how many cards you play per round. You can base this on your bankroll, the limit at your bingo hall, or whatever else. That way, you know going in how much you’re going to spend, and you can give yourself better chances of winning without breaking your casino bankroll too soon.


Most of the tactics for picking winning bingo cards you read about online are garbage. I wouldn’t say they’re particularly harmful since bingo is a low-cost game with very few outcomes per hour.

Still, if someone spends a lot of time and money chasing those high-frequency numbers or attempting a Tippett strategy could spend more than they’d like under the false assumption that the strategy they read about online would eventually produce winnings.

The only surefire way to increase your chances of picking winning bingo cards is to buy more cards.

Petko Stoyanov
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About Petko Stoyanov
My name is Petko Stoyanov, and I've been a gambling writer for more than ten years. I guess that was the natural path for me since I've loved soccer and card games for as long as I can remember! I have a long and fairly successful history with English Premier League betting and online poker, but I follow many other sports. I watch all big European soccer leagues, basketball, football, and tennis regularly, and I keep an eye on snooker, volleyball, and major UFC events.