Below you’ll find the basics on how to play Bunco and several rule variations. There are probably as many rules as there are Bunco groups! Here are the rules we use in our Bunco group with some variations included. Our rules are pretty simple; we don’t want to think too much…we just want to have fun! As you read through them choose the rules that best suit your group or sound like fun.
• 12 players (more or less, in multiples of 4)
• 3 Tables, 1 table per 4 people (tables are designated: Head Table, Table Two, and Table Three…or honestly whatever you want to call them Table 1, Table 2, Table 3…or High, Mid, Low, etc.)
• 9 dice, 3 die per table
• 12 Bunco Printables Score Cards, 1 per person
• 3 Bunco Printables Table Tally Sheets, one per table to keep score during each round
• 12 Pens or pencils, 1 per person
• 1 Bell ~ placed at Head Table
• Traveler ~ a Fuzzy Dice (or other soft toss-able item)
• Traveler Prize, for person holding the Traveler at the end of the game
• Cash Prizes (provided by players)
• Food (this can be as simple as table snacks & dessert or a potluck OR over the top catered…you decide!)
All tables should have 1 Bunco Printables Table Tally Sheet, 4 Bunco Printables Score Cards, 4 pens or pencils, and 3 dice. The Head Table should include all those items plus the bell and traveler. Table snacks can be added, if desired.
Basic Play/Keeping Score
Bunco is played by rolling dice, keeping score and moving from table to table. There are six rounds per set of play. Each set is made up of a round of 1-6.
The bell always located on the Head Table (which is determined by the hostess). When everyone is ready to play the bell is rung to signal the beginning of a round. All tables roll at the same time. You are always partners with the person sitting across from you. For example, Player 1 and Player 3 are partners as are Player 2 and Player 4 for each round (see pic above); there are two teams per table.
Play is accomplished using all three dice at the same time. A player at each table begins rolling the dice. During round 1, the goal is to roll ones (round 2 – roll twos, etc.).
SCORING: One person is assigned scorekeeper at each table. On the Table Tally Sheet, the scorekeeper and her teammate are “Us” and the other team is “Them”. Each time a player rolls the correct number for the round, her team gets one point. When a player stops rolling the number of the round (round 1 – ones, round 2 – twos, etc.), the dice goes clockwise to the next player.
BUNCOs: A BUNCO is when any player rolls all 3 dice in the number of that round (rolling 3 1’s in round 1, etc.). Each time a player rolls a BUNCO, they calls out “BUNCO” and are passed the Traveler until someone else calls “BUNCO” and they passes it to that player. The player who rolled a BUNCO marks a tally on her BUNCO Score Sheet under “BUNCOs”. Each player must keep track of the number of BUNCOs she rolls. The person holding the Traveler at the end of the game wins the Traveler Prize.
VARIATION: BUNCOs worth 21 points, if at the Head Table the round is over.
Baby BUNCO (optional): Each time a player rolls three of any number other than that of the round they’re playing they get a Baby BUNCO. The player marks her BUNCO Score Sheet in the blank area below BUNCOs. Each player must keep track of the number of Baby BUNCOs she rolls. Baby BUNCOs are worth no points but are awarded prizes at the end.
VARIATION: A Baby Bunco, also known as Funko, is worth 5 points.
The first team at the Head Table to reach a score of 21 wins the round and the bell is rung signaling the end of the round. The other two tables may have higher scores (depending on the rolling).
When the bell is rung, all playing ceases and the winning team marks their BUNCO Scorecard with a “W” and the losing team marks their BUNCO Scorecard with an “L” on the appropriate round.
Bunco is played by individuals, not teams, so partners change after each round. The winning teams move to a new table, rotating in one direction. For example, the Head Table winners move to Table 2, Table 2 winners move to Table 3, and Table 3 winners move to the Head Table.
The losing teams from each table stay at that table. However, one person from each losing team remaining at the table will change seats so that new teams are formed for the next round (Player 1 stays put and Player 3 moved to Player 2’s seat…see pic above).
GHOSTS: A ghost is used if an individual cannot attend and could not find a sub. The player with the ghost for a partner rolls for the ghost and collects ONLY points for their team, not BUNCOs or Baby BUNCOs, etc. Ghost players will not have a scorecard.
Play continues through rounds 1-6, repeating for a total of 4 sets. At the end of the 4th set all players calculate their scores and prizes are awarded.
This area can be whatever you like. Some groups provide prizes that go with their theme (check out all the awesome prize ideas I have under each Themed Bunco Set!). Others like to keep it simple and use cash.
If you’re going with cash, here’s a breakdown suggestion. Before play begins, the Hostess collects cash from each player (for example $5/player). At the end of the game prizes are awarded.
Each player adds up their total Wins, Losses, BUNCOs, and Baby BUNCOs then marks them on their BUNCO Score Sheets. The Hostess calls out for winners and divides up the cash according to the decided-upon winning categories. Players can only win in one cash prize category. Any ties in scores will result in a roll off, highest number wins with the exception of the Big Loser; in that case, the lowest number wins.
Cash Prize Category suggestions:
• $30 ~ Most Wins
• $15 ~ Most BUNCOs
• $10 ~ Most Baby BUNCOs
• $5 ~ Big Loser
• Traveler Prize ~ Hostess-provided $5 gift certificate
In our group, BUNCO Night is “Ladies Night” ~ no husbands or children allowed! If you can’t get a sitter ~ you need a sub! This is just another rule you need to consider…especially if you’re setting up a group for couples…lol!
Disclaimer: These aren’t the “official” rules (if there is such a thing…lol). They are a custom set of rules we came up with to use in our group. We like these rules for lots of reasons, one being that if we had to move every time someone yelled “BUNCO!” we’d be changing seats a lot more than we are! Take what you like from these rules or make up your own…but whatever you do write them down and pass them out so everyone knows what the rules are and there aren’t any hurt feelings or bad calls. The main objective here is to get together and have fun!