Rules of Bunco

Download the printable version here: ( DOC / PDF )

There are many forms of Bunco (also spelled Bunko) and many subtle variations on the rules.  The most important thing is to play the version that suits your Bunco group best, enjoy yourselves, and save a set of the rules (printable version available here) for any questions that pop up later.  The rules below are the rules our Bunco group uses to play the game. We’ve found them fair and fun too. Happy playing!

Setting up:

To get ready for your Bunco game night, set up 3 tables with 4 chairs each. Designate the following: high table, middle table, and low table. This can be done using table placards if you like.  Note: if you have more than 12 players, simply add in extra middle tables, but be sure to designate which middle table(s) are higher than the other(s). Place 3 dice on each table and at least a few pens. Each player will need her own scoresheet, available here, to keep track of her score from round to round. And don’t forget Buncolator on either your iPhone, iPod, or iPad, and of course a few tasty snacks.

Playing the game:

Each table is divided into 2 teams, chosen randomly. Team pairs sit across from each other. Pick one person on each team to keep score using Buncolator, or, Buncolator may be used to keep score for both teams as well. Each player will record her final score at the end of the round.

There are six rounds to each game, with the first round starting with “rolling for ones.” Play starts when a designated player rings a bell or shouts  “Rolling for Ones – Go!” One player from each table starts the game by attempting to roll as many ones as possible with the 3 dice. If 1 of the die shows the number currently being rolled for, 1 point is given, if 2 of the dice show the number, 2 points are given. If a player rolls three of a kind of another number not being rolled for, this is a Baby Bunco (5 points). Rolling a Baby Bunco does not end the player’s turn or the round. Any time a player achieves a point(s)-producing roll, she continues to roll until she no longer hits the number being rolled for or a Baby Bunco. Upon completion of the player’s turn, the player to her left then rolls the dice. Players should roll quickly, as each table is playing against each other.

When any player rolls three of a kind of the number being rolled for, this is a Bunco (21 points). This ends the round.  If a team reaches a cumulative score of 21 prior to any player rolling Bunco, this also ends the round.  The player who rolled the Bunco or whose team cumulatively achieved the score of 21 should shout “Bunco!” to let all other tables know that the round has ended. At the end of the round, the player who rolled Bunco should continue rolling to attempt to score additional points, stopping when she no longer hits the number being rolled for (or Baby Buncos). The other players (at all tables) who were rolling when “Bunco!” was announced should finish their turns by continuing to roll and attempting to collect points until they no longer hit the number being rolled for (or Baby Buncos). Once all rolling has ceased, each team or table’s scorekeeper should let each team know their final score (which will show on the Buncolator screen), and each player should also record whether she won or lost, and if she rolled a Bunco.

At the end of each round, the winning team stays at the high table. The losing team from the high table goes down to the low table. The winning team from the middle table goes to the high table, and the winning team from the low table goes to the middle table. The losing team from the middle table stays at that table, and the losing team at the low table stays at that table as well.  Any team who remains at a table at the completion of a round should have one teammate move over a chair so each player will have a different partner for the next round.

At the end of a round, if the two teams at any one table have a tie score, there will be a roll-off to determine the winner. This simply means that each player will roll until the number being rolled for is hit, and the team hitting that number first wins and the roll-off is complete.

A game is complete when all 6 numbers on the die have been rolled for. In other words, a game is complete once sixes have been rolled for. Play may cease here, or you may begin a new game. At the end of the game or set of games, each player then records her total Buncos and wins/losses from each round. Each player should also tally her overall score from all rounds of play. Prizes are awarded at this time. Winning categories may include: most wins, highest overall score, and most Buncos rolled (and even most losses and lowest score may be awarded for as well). If cash is the prize at hand, it may be divided among the categories as your group sees fit.