How To Play Bunco: A Step By Step Guide


How to play Bunco? Bunco is a lively and easy-to-learn dice game that brings people together for a night of fun.

Suitable for all ages and skill levels, the game involves rolling dice, keeping score, and shouting Bunco, when luck strikes.

Played in rounds with rotating partners, Bunco fosters a sense of camaraderie and is perfect for social gatherings and game nights. Grab your dice, learn the simple rules, and enjoy this engaging game’s energetic and social atmosphere.

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What Is Bunco?

Bunco is an entertaining dice game enjoyed by many each year. Picture getting together with 12 friends, creating groups of four at various tables.

Within each group, there are two teams. The game involves taking turns rolling three dice, aiming to score points and win rounds by outplaying the opposing team. Following each round, you switch tables and teammates. It’s a delightful way to have a good time with friends.

The Objective of Bunco

The main idea in Bunco is to win more rounds than others. Winning a round happens when your team scores more points than the other team at your table.

The person who wins the most rounds becomes the overall winner. So, enjoy playing and aim for those victories in Bunco.

Necessary Supplies for a Fun Bunco Game 


  • A set of 12 dice (3 per table), or consider a more elaborate bunco game set if you prefer.
  • Whether you create your own or purchase a pack of 100 bunco scorecards, twelve scorecards are available on Amazon.
  • Twelve pencils; add some enjoyment with themed pencils.
  • Three table markers; choose a playful dice-themed version.
  • One bell for the main table, whether it’s a handbell or a table bell.

Optional Additions

  • Travelling Bunco is a great prize for the final bunco winner; consider a dice bunco traveller to be worn around the neck.
  • Bunco prizes, explore some suggested options.
  • Themed plates and napkins, along with wine glasses and tumblers.
  • Bunco apparel such as shirts, dice earrings, and a whimsical bunco hat will bring some extra fun to the event.

Why Bunco is Ideal for Families and Groups

Simple Gameplay: Playing Bunco is straightforward, much like bingo. It’s based on luck, making it accessible to everyone without requiring special skills.

Enjoyable Experience: Bunco offers a lively and dynamic game with constantly changing tables. The atmosphere is filled with excitement, including the sound of rolling dice, people engaging in conversation, and the joyous shouts of BUNCO.

Minimal Skill Requirements: Basic math skills such as counting, simple calculations, and taking turns are the only prerequisites for enjoying Bunco. It’s a game that everyone can easily participate in.

Inclusive for All Ages: Bunco caters to individuals aged four and above, ensuring it’s a delightful and inclusive activity suitable for families and groups.

How Long Does a Game of Bunco Last?

If you decide to play a three-set Bunco game, it usually takes around 2 hours. This time includes 1.5 hours of playing the game and 30 minutes for setting up and cleaning up. So, get ready for an enjoyable two-hour Bunco experience.

How To Play Bunco

Step 1: Setting Up Groups of Players

To learn how to play Bunco:

  1. Start by gathering 12 players and dividing them into groups of 4.
  2. Seat them at three different tables.
  3. Provide each player with a scoresheet (or a piece of paper) and mark a star on the back of four of them.
  4. Distribute the scoresheets randomly.

The four players who receive sheets with stars constitute the “head table,” while the others form groups of four at the remaining tables. Team composition doesn’t require strategic thinking; teams switch regularly based on luck.

In a game with more than 12 players, designate the tables as “head,” “middle,” and “end,” or simply number them, like Table 1, Table 2, Table 3, and so forth.

Step 2: Creating Teams at Each Table

Within each table of 4 players, split them into teams of 2. Your teammate is the person sitting opposite you, and the two players on either side become your opponents.

To grasp how to play Bunco, understand that there’s no need to worry about team dynamics because, in Bunco, there are no distinctions between good or bad players. Additionally, teams change frequently throughout the game, adding to the enjoyment.

Step 3: Starting the First Round – Scoring Points with the Dice

Let’s explore how to play Bunco by breaking down the initial round. Choose someone at each table to be the scorekeeper and give them the chance to go first. The order of play doesn’t have much impact, so no need to worry about it.

The main aim for the first player is to roll three dice and try to earn points. Here’s how points can be scored:

  • You earn points if the dice show the same number as the round number (like rolling a 1 in round 1, 2 in round 2, and so on). One match is worth 1 point, a matching pair is worth 2 points, and if all three match, it’s called a “bunco” with a special bonus of 21 points.
  • If you roll three dice that all show the same number (other than the round number), you get 5 points. This is also referred to as a “mini bunco.” For instance, rolling three 4s in round 2.

If points are scored, the player gets to roll again. If no points are earned on a roll, the turn ends, and it’s the next person’s turn.

Following each turn, the scorekeeper tallies up the points for that player and adds them to the team’s total score.

The round concludes for everyone when the team at the head table reaches 21 points, marked by a distinctive noise, such as ringing a bell.

At the end of each round, the scorekeeper adds up all the points for each team. The team with the highest points wins, and each player marks a “W” on their scoresheet for that round. Players on the losing team mark an “L” on their scoresheet.

And if anyone rolls a “bunco” during the round, they mark that on their individual scoresheet.

Here’s an example for round 1:

  • If one die shows a 1, that’s 1 point.
  • Rolling two dice, both showing a 1, earns you 2 points.
  • If all three dice show 1s, it’s a “bunco,” and you get a significant 21 points.
  • If all three dice show the same number (other than 1), you get 5 points. For example, rolling three 4s.

Step 4: Changing Things Up with Tables and Teams

Now, let’s bring in a social element. At the end of each round, it’s time for some adjustments:

  • Head Table: Winners remain seated; the others move to the end table.
  • Middle Tables: Winners move up; losers stay where they are.
  • End Table: Winning teams move up; losers stay.

Players also switch teams after each round, but it’s straightforward. If a team stays at their table, they simply sit together and become opponents in the next round. The two new players joining fill the empty seats.

Step 5: Progressing to the Next Round – Repeating for Rounds 2-6 to Conclude a “Set”

Now, let’s discuss the next rounds. Rounds 2-6 follow a similar pattern to the first one, but the scoring number changes. In round 2, the target is 2s; in round 3, it’s 3s, and so forth.

Just like before, you earn points for rolling matching dice. Once you finish round 6, you’ve successfully completed a “set.” Keep rolling the dice and enjoy the game.

Step 6: Moving to the Next “Set” (Typically 2-4 Rounds)

Let’s explore what happens next in Bunco. Each set consists of six rounds; usually, people play 2-4 sets. However, feel free to adjust based on your available time.

For subsequent sets, keep it straightforward. Change up the teams by rotating tables, then repeat steps 3-5 until you’ve completed as many sets as you prefer.

Step 7: Determining the Champions of the Bunco “Game”

In the Bunco world, the main winner is the person with the most round victories. Other notable winners might include those with the highest buncos, the individual with the last Bunco (travelling Bunco), the one with the top overall score, and participants deserving of booby prizes (for the fewest wins or the lowest point score).

Step 8: Awarding Prizes (Optional)

While it’s not mandatory, adding prizes can enhance the enjoyment. Some groups have each player contribute a small amount of money (e.g., $5) to create a prize pool for the winners.

Alternatively, tangible prizes are presented to winners in different categories.

In case of a tie for a prize, the players in the tie can either engage in a quick one-round game to determine the winner or mutually share the prize (if it’s a monetary reward).

Rules For How To Play Bunco


How many participants typically engage in a game of Bunco?

Ever wondered how many friends you need for a bunco game? Well, a typical bunco “party” gathers 12 pals, dividing into groups of four at different tables.

Each group then splits into two teams, seated across from each other. This setup works smoothly for any multiple of four, ensuring four pals are always at each table.

Setting Up the Tables

In the 12-player version, there are three tables, each with four players:

  1. Head Table: This table takes the lead in guiding the game. Play for all tables kicks off when the scorekeeper at the head table takes their first turn and wraps up when a team at the head table reaches 21 points.
  2. Middle Table(s): These tables are positioned between the “head” and “end” tables.
  3. End Table: The last table in the setup.

Remember: You can adjust the number of tables based on your group size. If you want fewer, simply remove the middle or both the middle and end tables.

For more tables, add extra middle tables and number them sequentially (1, 2, 3, 4, etc.) to maintain clarity.

Bunco Dice

Every table needs three dice. Now, you’re all set for an exciting game of Bunco. Enjoy rolling those dice and having a blast with your friends.

Giving Bunco a Twist

We’re here to share the most common ways people enjoy Bunco, but guess what? You can add your own special touch.

Some groups change up the number of players, prizes, or how they take turns. Feel free to get creative if everyone understands and has fun.

Now, a lot of questions pop up about how many people can play, and we’ve got a guide for every player count below.

Here’s the simple version: if you want to add or remove a bunch of 4 players, just add or remove a table. But when you have an odd number, you’ll need to decide what works best for you. You’ve got three choices:

  • Change the number of players per table.
  • Use a “ghost player.”
  • Have a certain number of players sit out each round.

So, don’t be afraid to try new things and make Bunco your own.

Bunco Scoring Simplified

Wins and Rounds: Bunco is played in sets of six rounds, each connected to a dice number. The game goes on until someone at the main table hits 21 points.

The team with the highest points wins the round. In case of a tie, everyone rolls once, and the team with the highest combined score takes the round.

Note: Players at other tables keep playing even if their points exceed 21.

Rolls and Points: Scoring in Bunco is straightforward and happens in two ways:

  1. When one or more dice match the round number (like rolling a 3 in round 3).
  2. When all three dice show the same number.

Scoring Breakdown:

  • Matching one die with the round number = 1 point.
  • Matching two dice with the round number = 2 points.
  • Matching all three dice with the round number = 21 points (that’s a Bunco).
  • Getting three dice showing the same number but not matching the round = 5 points.

Buncos: Rolling a Bunco is special and gets a unique score mark.

Taking Turns: Players take turns rolling the dice. If you score, keep rolling. If you don’t score, your turn ends, and the player to your left starts.

Keep Rolling Until 21 Points: Players can have many or few turns in each round. It depends on how quickly or slowly the main table reaches 21 points. Enjoy rolling those dice.

Bunco Champions and Prizes Guide

Top Achievers

The standout winner in Bunco is the player with the highest count of overall round victories. In larger groups, there are additional recognitions up for grabs, like awards for the most buncos, the participant achieving the last Bunco (known as travelling Bunco), the one with the highest score, lowest score, and more.

Rewarding Efforts

Players contribute to a prize “pot” in some bunco circles before the game commences. This collective fund is then shared among various winners. Alternatively, hosts might distribute tangible prizes.

Typically, a diverse range of prizes can be incorporated in more extensive groups with a substantial pot.

Resolving Ties

In cases where a tie exists among prize winners, two viable solutions are available: initiate an additional round of rolling to determine the ultimate victor, or, if the prize is in cash and both players agree, they can opt to share the winnings. Enjoy the excitement of your bunco game.

How To Play Bunco: Video Guide

How Do You Keep Score on Bunco?

How To Play Bunco

Players maintain their scores on their personal BUNCO Score Cards. If a player rolls a BUNCO, they should make a mark in the BUNCO box on their own scorecard.

Importantly, only the player who rolled the BUNCO receives credit on their individual scorecard, and their teammate does not mark their scorecard.


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Q: How To Play Bunco With the Large Group

A: Bunco is great for large gatherings. Easily add more players in groups of 4, keeping the rules the same. For 20 people, add two tables—Head, Table 2, 3, 4, End. For odd numbers, adjust at the end table. Consider adding extra prizes for more excitement.

Q: How To Play Bunco With 1 Player? 

A: Bunco is not designed for solo play. It is most enjoyable with groups of 4, 8, 12, or any other multiple of 4 players. Nevertheless, there are variations that allow for play with different combinations of 2 or more participants.

Q: How To Play Bunco With 2 Players? 

A: Engaging in a two-person bunco game is an option, though it lacks the social dynamics of rotating teams and tables. The rules for a two-player bunco align with those of the 12-player version mentioned earlier, excluding the table rotations and team switches. In this setup, the player who attains 21 points first in each round secures victory for that round.

Q: How To Play Bunco With 3 Players? 

A: Playing Bunco with three people is fun when each person plays on their own. Scoring is still the same, but each player gets their own points without combining them. You don’t have to switch tables or teams.

If there are only three players, playing individually is a good idea. Another option is to add a “ghost” player if you’re one person short of a group of four, as I mentioned before. But for three players, it’s best to stick to everyone playing on their own.

Q: How To Play Bunco With 4 Players?

A: Playing Bunco with four people is similar to the rules of the 12-player Bunco, except you don’t have to switch tables. Just treat the single table as the “head” table. Remember, players still switch teammates after each round to keep the game interesting.

Q: How To Play Bunco With 5 Players?

A: When there are five players, you can set up two tables. Put three players at one table and two players at the other. After each round, the lowest scorers at the first table move to the second, and vice versa.

Another option is having one player take a break each round and play five rounds instead of six. If rounds have different numbers, determine winners by looking at the percentage of wins (Wins divided by Rounds played). Or, seat all five people at one table and let everyone play individually.

Q: How To Play Bunco With 6 Players?

A: For a fun bunco game with six players, try two tables. Put four players at one table as a team and two players at the other table individually. The losing team at the first table moves down, and the winners stay. Both players at the second table move up.

Another option is two tables with three players, each playing solo. Or, two people sit out each round, but that’s a lot of sitting.

Q: How To Play Bunco With 7 Players?

A: For a lively bunco game with seven players, try two tables. Put four players at one table as teams and three players at the other table playing solo. After each round, the losing team at the first table moves down, the winners stay, and the two highest-scoring solo players move up. Consider adding a “ghost” to fill an empty seat if you want a twist. Their teammate takes turns rolling for them, just like a real player, following the regular rotation.

Q: How To Play Bunco With 8 Players?

A: Playing Bunco with 8 participants is a great choice since it’s a multiple of 4. Approach it like a typical 12-player bunco game, but you only need a “head” and “end” table this time. It’s a straightforward adjustment.

Q: How To Play Bunco With 9 Players?

A: Playing Bunco with nine people is possible, but you’ll need to make some adjustments since it’s one more player than a multiple of 4. Here’s a simple way: use three tables. At the main table, form 4-player teams, have three individuals at the middle table and two individuals at the end table. After each round, winners stay at the main table, losers move to the end table, and the highest scorers at the middle table move up. Everyone gets a fair chance to play.

Alternatively, let one player take a break each round and play nine rounds to keep it fair for everyone. If you’re playing different round numbers, use the percentage of wins to determine the overall winners.

Q: How To Play Bunco With 10 Players?

A: Use three tables for a fun bunco game with ten players. Winners stay at the main table, losers move to the end table, and winners from the middle table move up. Alternatively, use two tables of 4 players, with 2 sitting out each round for five rounds. Keep in mind that it involves quite a bit of sitting. Avoid playing with multiple ghosts for clarity.

Q: How To Play Bunco With 11 Players?

A: Use three tables for an enjoyable bunco game with 11 players. Seat 4 players at the head table, four at the middle, and three at the end. The head and middle tables play as teams, while the end table is for individual players. After each round, the losing team at the head table moves to the end, keeping two winners. Winners from the middle table move up, and losers stay put. The two highest-scoring individuals at the end table move up, and the lowest-scoring player stays.

Consider playing with a ghost—a pretend player in an empty seat for added fun. The ghost’s teammate takes turns rolling for it, mimicking a real player. The ghost moves around tables and changes teammates as if it were a regular player in a 12-player game.

Q: How To Play Bunco With 12 Players?

A: This article is designed for 12 players enjoying a bunco game. So, read this whole article carefully to learn how to play Bunco. It provides detailed instructions for a fun experience.

Q: Can You Play Bunco With More than 12 Players?

A: Sure, Bunco is fantastic for big groups, especially when you have a number of players that’s a multiple of 4, like 4, 8, 12, and so on. Just add more tables, numbering them for clarity. For example, if you have four tables, name them Head Table (1), Table 2, Table 3, and End Table (4). If your group size doesn’t fit multiples of 4, like 9, 10, or 11 players, follow our tips for nine players if you’re short by 3, 10 if you’re short by 2, or 11 if you’re short by 3. That way, everyone can enjoy playing Bunco.