For adults, games can take on a different tone. Prizes are perhaps more elaborate and selective and the focus becomes more fixed upon beating the odds and/or outwitting luck.
There are few games that have lasted throughout the course of a century, and Bunco proves to be one of them. A dice game of pure luck that has been redefined throughout the years, it continues to be one of the most popular played games in the United States. From it’s early beginnings in 18th-century England it has continued to gain popularity and now even has a Facebook application. In fact I found seven different Bunco Facebook Pages from all over the country!
Bunco made it’s way over to the United States, specifically San Francisco around the 1850s, and quickly gained a reputation for being a gambling game. It was played in gambling parlors, also known as Bunco parlors. During prohibition in the 1920s, the game was re-popularized and played in speakeasies, where police squads, nicknamed “Bunco squads” would raid the venue.
The game made yet another come back around the time of the 1980s but gained immense popularity in America around 2005. It has been reported by the World Bunco Association that in 2006, 27 million people played Bunco. Currently, Bunco is played by anyone from young adults to the elderly and can be played in a home setting or a fundraiser.
A popular trend for women is having “Bunco Parties” where a hostess will invite women over to play the game at her house and provide food and beverages. The women will often take turns hosting the other ladies. Prizes create an edge to the game and offer an incentive. Bunco fundraisers are also becoming increasingly popular and have created a new avenue in the fundraising world.
Among young adults, the game has also been turned into a drinking game, affectionately entitled, “Drunko”.
The rules of the game go as such: Bunco is a dice game played in different rounds. There are teams of two and they sit at a table of four. The goal of the game is to accumulate as many points as possible for your team. During each persons turn they try to roll a specific set of numbers that are given. If they roll at least one of those numbers, they can continue to roll until they do not score anymore. If they roll a three of a kind, they score five points and if they score all three numbers that they were suppose to, they score the ideal twenty-one points. The first team to score twenty-one points wins. Since there are several teams playing, everyone (even at other tables) must stop when the original winners call, “Bunco!”. Whichever team has the highest number of points at that time wins for that table. At the end of each game, the losers go toward the losing end and the winners move up towards the winning end. Partners are also switched to avoid playing on the same team as someone twice.
Above all, Bunco is a social game. It invites people of all backgrounds to come together and relax while playing a fun game and interacting with others. Many times the game is accompanied with appetizers, snacks, dinner, dessert, cocktails, wine, and many other delectable treats. It gives people an excuse to drop their troubles at the door and get caught up in the festivities.
If you're in the North San Francisco Bay Area on Oct. 27 and want to experience the game for yourself, come check out the Rotary Club of Rohnert Park-Cotati's Bunco Tournament. Who knows, that might be your lucky day!