If you’re a regular online bingo player, you’ve probably seen comments about bingo sites, with some players accusing sites of rewarding the same players over and over, or of rigging the games so it’s impossible to win games and get the big bingo prizes. But do these accusations really hold any water – or are players just running into bad luck?
The first thing that should set bingo players’ minds at ease is that regulated online bingo sites in the UK use a Random Number Generator to choose numbers – there’s no-one favouring particular players or rigging the game behind the scenes. Any regulated UK-based site where you can play bingo will have had their Random Number Generator tested by a third party like eCOGRA or iTech Labs before they can even obtain an operating license. This ensures fair play across all of the bingo games on the site.
Sometimes it seems that the same users keep winning the full house prize in online bingo games – so why does this happen? Well, the simplest answer is that these players are just spending more money. These players are most likely purchasing the maximum amount of cards (many bingo games allow you to purchase up to 96 cards per game) – so bear in mind that even though the same players seem to keep winning, they’re likely sinking much larger amounts of money into bingo cards. If you’re only buying one card and they’re buying 96, they have 96 times the chance you have of winning the full house prize – a significant margin! They’re most likely also pre-purchasing cards so they can even compete when they’re offline, so it seems that they are constantly winning around the clock. This is only possible in online bingo – when a player is responsible for daubing numbers and shouting ‘bingo’, they can’t really daub 96 cards at once or pre-buy tickets for games they aren’t attending.
If you don’t want to buy 96 tickets to improve your chances, you’d be better off trying out bingo rooms that have lower limits on the number of tickets that can be bought – for example, the Cash Cubes game found on Playtech sites only allows players to purchase one ticket each – meaning everyone has the same chance to win.
According to some people, yes. One theory is based on the work of financial writer Joseph Granville, who suggests using an even distribution of odd and even numbers and high and low numbers when picking cards, and avoiding any “extreme” distributions. Supposedly, you are more likely to win if you pick numbers with an even spread and balance.
Another theory comes from statistician L.H.C. Tippett, and is based on the randomness complex theory. To put this one simply: you should try and choose a card with numbers that are closer to the average – so, as close to 38 during a 75 ball game – when playing a game that you think will have a long duration (for example, a game with a complex pattern that must be daubed). If you’re playing a game that you think will be shorter in duration (for example, a game with a simple pattern that must be daubed), you should pick a card with numbers that are as far from the average as possible. Tippett surmises that this is because the more bingo balls are called during a game, then the more likely it gets that the median value ball will be called. However, this is only a theory, and there’s no real statistical evidence to back this one up, so you should probably take this with a grain of salt.
Well, maybe not a complete waste of time – the theories above aren’t proven, but it’s not definite that they don’t work at all, either. However, it can be a mistake to put too much stock in them – bingo games, no matter the strategy you use, are pretty much exclusively down to luck. Let’s have a peek at another game of chance to show how using statistics can be misleading – for example, rolling two standard six-sided dice.
If we total up the number of ways the dice can be rolled, we get 36 ways. It’s also apparently easiest to roll 7, as the total comes up 6 times. Therefore, we can say that 7 is the most likely total when the dice are rolled x times.
So, how shall we bet? Shall we bet on the dice total, or on getting a particular combination?
If you bet on the dice total, statistics will be applicable here. If you bet on a specific combination, that’s simple – you have a 1/36 chance of getting any of the above combinations. But don’t think that betting on a particular combination that totals 7 gives you any more chance of winning! Yes, 7 comes up the most, but there are 6 ways of rolling it, and they’re all different. 6 of the 36 combinations total 7. There are 6 ways to total 7. So:
6/36 x 1/6 = 1/6 x 1/6 = 1/36.
Ta-dah! You still only have a 1/36 chance of getting a particular combination that totals 7. You’re just as likely to roll 1,1.
And see how we can apply this to bingo? When you play bingo you are betting on a SPECIFIC card, like the SPECIFIC combination of dice. Your card may be more ‘balanced’ but that doesn’t actually mean anything – if you play with one card, you still have a 1/x chance of winning, where x is the total number of cards in play.
This may be more likely than trying to apply statistics! Some players don’t like picking cards that have numbers that are too close to each other, or seem to show numerical patterns, because to them this looks less random and therefore less likely – when to be honest you’re just as likely to hear 1, 2, 3, 4 be called as 42, 74, 3, 68! Trying to snap up these cards from time to time could hopefully give you an advantage in that if you win the full house prize, you’ll probably be less likely to share the prize pot as you picked the less favoured cards!
This is where maths CAN help! Let’s say each game sells exactly 1000 cards. In the game where you buy 100 cards, you have a 1/10 chance of winning. In each game where you buy one card, you a have 1/1000 chance of winning in each game. Let’s work out your chance of losing across the 100 games:
999/1000 x 100 = 9.99/10
9.99/10 to the power of 100 = 0.0948 (to four decimal places)
Remember this value will be approximate as some players may win full house twice or more.
And we can see that 0.0948 < 0.1, so statistically, it looks better to buy 100 cards for one game.
HOWEVER! Consider these points:
You may have seen RTP in information about slot machines or bingo games. Basically, it’s a percentage which lets players know how much money (on average) they should expect to receive back – so a 100% RTP would mean the player can expect to get all of their money returned. Sadly the majority of games do not work like that (they need to make a profit, after all) so you’ll find the general range for most slots games is somewhere in the region of 94%. UK slots sites actually post their RTP details on their sites, so you can feel fully informed and knowledgeable before you start playing. However, bingo sites don’t tend to post them, but tend to be in the vicinity of 75%-80% (according to the Live Bingo Network on the Cozy platform).
So why is bingo so vague about RTP when slots aren’t?
Even though it may seem like online bingo’s at a disadvantage here, there’s something to remember when playing slots – even if the RTP is 94%, you are not guaranteed to get that back. You might win twice what you spent, but you might also get nothing. It’s important to remember that 94% is just the average of what players get back, not a guaranteed minimum. You’re likely to be using real money on slots, too, so bear that in mind before you flush away too much. And let’s be honest – if you spend 10p on a slot, it’s gone in seconds. 10p spent playing online on a bingo game could buy one or more cards (depending on price) that could last you for a full game – more entertainment for your money!
It’s important to remember that at the end of the day, online bingo sites need to make a profit, so the bingo prizes offered are going to be lower in value than the amount paid in by the players. Gambling sites in the UK are regulated by the Gambling Commission, so you can be sure that your money is being treated safely by the bingo site that you play at. Don’t treat bingo or other gambling games as a quick way to make money – it’s supposed to be entertaining, not a money-making scheme. The best way to make sure you aren’t disappointed by your wins or losses is to stick to a budget and gamble responsibly so you never have to worry about the money you’ve lost – only gamble what you can afford to lose! Stretch your budget by taking part in free bingo and penny bingo games, where you can win for next to nothing. Try and hit a good balance – play with more than one card if you can afford to (this increases the amount of numbers you can daub and therefore, your chances of winning) but try not to spend too much – perhaps buy more cards on cheaper games and buy fewer cards on more expensive ones. And if you do win big, it’s best not to immediately sink your winnings into a massive stake – yes, there’s a possibility that you might win even more, but it’s far more likely that you won’t. Stick to your established budget – you may feel like you’re on a lucky streak, but the concept doesn’t actually exist – a flipped coin that comes up heads 12 times in a row still has a 50/50 chance of landing on tails on the 13th flip. Your previous wins have NO influence on your chances, so don’t get carried away by the idea of a ‘lucky streak’ – it’s the fastest way to lose all your winnings!
This piece is based on an original article by Sue Dawson at Best New Bingo Sites.
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