Serious bingo players don’t walk into a church hall pay a few bucks, grab sheets and wait for numbers to come out to dab their cards. For those who play 4 to 7 nights a week, there are a lot of strategies mixed in with a little bit of luck.
At St. Joseph’s Church in New Britain on a Friday night about 100 people come each week in hopes of winning prizes that range as high as $1,200.
As players walk in they are given cards. Some are rejected. One player said “a 6 is in the top corner and that is bad luck. Give me another card.”
And cards are not the only important items.
“We all have what we call our lucky charms,” said Yolie Rogers of Berlin who plays bingo 5 nights a week. “I have an angel, Simba, my Obama pin, ladybugs, a picture of me with UConn players, an elephant with its trunk up and another angel in glass. I keep the same ones all the time.”
Rogers believes local bingos are the best as players have a better chance of winning. She gets only one card set for the night, but some players grab two sets.
Games include such things as a Little Joe, Crazy L, Butterfly, and most importantly is winner take all games.
“The amount of money you win depends on how many tickets that sell,” said Rogers. “There is a progressive game where you have to fill the card in 54 numbers. It goes as high as $1,192. Anything higher would mean the winner would have to pay taxes.”
Barbara Bylaard of New Britain has a penguin holding her lucky number 73 ball and a bear.
“It is a lucky number for me to hit on and I have hit on it before,” said Bylaard. “My favorite game is double postage. You need to get four numbers on two corners.”
Nancy of Meriden said she wins sometimes, but not always and she would rather do this “than watch the boob tube”.
Beatrice said she rings the bell on the number 13 because it is her lucky number.
Each player seems to have their own lucky number and their way of trying to get it to come out.
There are Bingo games 7 days a week in the local area at a church or organizations.
Most regular games pay about $50. But when the progressive amount gets over $1,000 the crowds increase.
“The last two nights of the progressive (as prizes are given out as high as $1,192) gets very busy,” said Priscilla Savoie. “That is when the regulars get aggravated because these people run to only the big Bingos. Ours grows to its maximum every 8 weeks. It starts at $324 and it goes up $124 each week because of state regulations.”
“Many other games pay over $300,” said John Luddy, who volunteers each week.
Bingo at St. Josephs was started by Dr. Joseph Scholand in 1978.
“When Dr. Scholand died I told him I would take over to help the school. When the school stopped, I could not stop,” said Ernie Savoie. “This is their night out and the parish needed the money.”
“We need it just for regular expenses,” said Priscilla Savoie. “It’s a good thing we get volunteers to help out.”
At St. Joseph’s there is also a room in the back for smokers. It was the original room for everyone.
There is also food available like hot dogs and sandwiches.
Players are not the only ones who see bingo as serious business.
“We have to account for every nickel and every player has to spend at least $10,” said Luddy. “There are specials that are winner take all. But, for the state of Connecticut this is gambling. All of us are licensed. It is very regulated as this is considered a casino.”
But no matter how serious bingo can be most players say they do it for one reason.
“It’s a fun past time,” said Rogers.