In our modern age of social media and text messages the face of socializing is ever changing. However, there is no substitute for the good it does us to get together with friends in the real world in real time. It is easy to get caught up in our own lives and spend long periods of time without face-to-face contact so planning time with those close to us to increasingly necessary. My favorite social activity revolves around my monthly game of Bunco with eleven other ladies from my neighborhood.

   Bunco is a simple dice game but for me it is my main social interaction and I find it enriches my life and benefits my overall mental well-being. Many communities have Bunco groups and each has it’s own structure. The core members in the group I was invited to join have been playing together for over thirty years. Here is how our system works. 

Forming Your Group and Culture 

    The game of Bunco requires twelve players so step one is to gather eleven friends, family members and/or co-workers to complete your group. Our group gets together once a month and each member hosts one time a year. Since not everyone will be able to make it every meeting it is a good idea to recruit a few extra friends to be substitutes that are called and invited to play as needed. Our substitutes pay to play and are eligible to win prizes like members but never host. If we lose a member substitutes are always first to be invited to fill the space. Our group is made up of all women but co-ed groups and group made up of couples are also popular.

   For the most part we play at the home of the monthly host but occasionally a member will host an outdoor or destination event. Some groups serve appetizers only or provide cocktails while others might opt to go out to lunch and skip the game playing portion all together. Our group goes all out with food and prizes and faithfully roll the dice because we all enjoy our get togethers that much. 

   Our monthly host prepares appetizers as well as a full meal and dessert that we enjoy together usually just before the round of games. In our group we pay for the food when it is our turn to host but some groups have each member pitch in for the food.

   We like winning prizes so each time we meet we each pay $10.00 to play. This $120.00 is then past on to next months host who uses it to buy the prizes. Some groups award the money gather and some play for free and don’t win prizes or money. Each Bunco groups has it’s own culture and part of the fun is developing your own.

Playing The Game   

   To play the Bunco game you need to set up three tables that each have seating for four people. Each table needs three dice and a notebook and pencil to keep score. One table is the designated head table and this table needs a hand bell to ring to signal the beginning of each game. It is the score at this table that also determines the end of each game. The other two are the middle and bottom tables.

   Our group rolls a total of nineteen games during each get together. We print and cut our own individual score cards pictured here.  A Bunco is rolling three of a kind of the number currently in play.  The numbers on the card represent the Bunco number of each game i.e. game one has a one Bunco number and so on with game number seven starting back at ones.

   Each game is played in teams of two with your partner being across from you at the table. The game begins when the head table is ready and rings the bell. Each player rolls all three dice and continues to roll as long as at least one of the dice shows the current Bunco number. If you don’t roll that number or three of a kind of any number your turn is over and the person to your left is next. Each time you roll the number in play you score one point for your team. If you roll three of a kind of the number in play that is a Bunco and worth twenty-one points. Three of a kind of any other number is worth five points and your turn continues. The game is over when one of the teams at the head table reaches twenty-one points and they ring the bell. At this point the score keeper at each table marks your personal score card with an “X” over the number in play for a loss and a circle around it for a win. Winning teams move up to the next table, from bottom to middle for example and losing teams move down a table. At each game and table move you get a new partner and need to seat yourself accordingly.

We usually play a round of ones through sixes and then take a break to snack and refresh our bring-your-own beverages. Dinner is usually served after the second round but again do your own thing. We enjoy our dessert after the last game and then next month’s host gathers the playing fees and takes home the box containing the score cards, dice and our very Bunco necklace also pictured here. There is a prize for the last Bunco so each time one is the rolled the player that rolled it wears the necklace until another is rolled.

The Prizes

   Shopping for and winning the prizes is half of the fun and this is how our prize structure works.  All players that don’t win one of the top four prizes put their score card in a hat and we draw three, those are the draw prize winners.

                          • $35 Most Buncos Grand Prize

• $25 Most Wins

• $15 Last Bunco

• $15 Most Losses

* $10 Draw Prize

* $10 Draw Prize

* $10 Draw Prize


$120 Total playing fees / $10 per player

    Each host shops for and chooses the prizes for their Bunco and ours have varied from kitchenware to jewelry and wind chimes to blown glass. Some groups simply award cash prizes. Your prize structure is all about what your group enjoys.

   Personal connections and face to face contact is important for our overall well-being and many of us get caught up in our everyday business and go long periods without it. Force yourself into some fun and you might be surprised at how much just a few hours a month adds to your happiness. Add some balance to all that busy with some old fashioned socialization and a good game of Bunco.