How To Play Bunco

How to Play Bunco

Looking for a simple no-nonsense dice game where you can make new friends, eat, share recipes, and get away from your daily worries and cares? Look no further than the incredibly popular Bunco®! This well-liked dice game has been slowly gaining momentum over the past 20 years to become one of the most popular at-home games to date.

What is Bunco?

Bunco is a dice game which started over 200 years ago in England, but has been gaining popularity since the 1980’s. The rules are simple, and the game only requires basic gaming skills and some good old fashioned luck.

Bunco usually includes a group of 12 people who meet whenever they want to play together with one person hosting the event. Some parties may have a theme such as, wine tasting, Las Vegas night, etc., which can add more fun, but that is totally up to the host or hostess.

What Makes Bunco So Fun?

Bunco can be played by anyone and there are some great reasons to play:

  • Make new friends, meet new people
  • Any age group can play
  • During play you can snack, have conversations, it’s all very relaxed
  • Get away from your daily worries and cares
  • Easy to learn and can be picked up quickly

As I said before, you don’t have to strategize too heavily with Bunco, which gives you have the opportunity to relax and let loose. Ask anyone who has played and they will tell you they are hooked from the first game, but mostly, “it’s just fun!”

How to Play Bunco

Bunco (sometimes spelled Bunko) is played with dice, score sheets and prizes for winners. You can find the official rules and official playing instructions at

Object of the game

The object of Bunco is to roll your dice and gain the most “Wins” or “Buncos” as possible during four sets of play.

What You’ll Need

  • 12 people, 1 of which is the host/hostess for that game
  • 3 Tables
  • 12 Chairs
  • 1 Big fuzzy die
  • 9 Small gaming dice
  • 6 Tally pads and 6 pencils
  • 12 Score Sheets
  • 1 Bell
  • Prizes (more on this later)


How to Play Bunco, Game Setup

Game setup

  1. Assemble 3 tables with 4 chairs each (one table will be the “head” table, another table 2, and table 3)
  2. At each table place 3 dice, 2 pencils and 2 tally pads
  3. Place a bell and a fuzzy die at the head table
  4. Take 12 score sheets and secretly draw a star on the back of 4 of them
  5. Then have each person pick a score sheet, whoever has the star will sit at the head table
  6. The remaining 8 players without a start can sit at table 2 or 3
  7. Each table is randomly divided into two teams, and team couples sit across from each other (Find a fun way to pick teams!)
  8. Pick one person on each team to tally points during each round using the tally pads (Find a fun way to pick your team’s scorekeeper!)

Playing Bunco

  • The game begins once the head table rings the bell (the head table basically keep the pace of the game).
  • Then, a player from each table takes a turn trying to roll ones with the 3 small dice in turn (always take your roll using all 3 dice).
  • If one of the dice shows a one – number that is currently “up” – tally 1 point, if two of the dice show a one, tally 2 points, and so on.
  • A player will continue to keep rolling and not pass the dice as long as they keep getting points, but if no points are gained they pass the dice to the next player
  • When one team at the head table scores 21 points, or gets a Bunco (Rolling 3 of a kind of the same number of the round you’re in) the scorekeeper of that team at the head table rings the bell, which signals the the end of the round for all tables.
  • Players at the secondary tables, that are in the middle of their turn can finish add those points to their score
  • Here’s where it gets interesting. The team with the highest score at each table wins the round, however all players at the secondary tables can continue to roll and score until the bell is rung, even if their team has already reached 21.

Other Ways to Get Points

  • If a player rolls three of a kind of the same number of the round they are in (Example: roll 3 fives in round five), that’s a Bunco!
  • A player must then call out “Bunco” to receive 21 points in that round on the tally pad, and then gets 1 Bunco point added to their individual score sheet
  • Rolling three of a kind of any number other than the round you’re in is worth 5 points on the tally pad.

At the End of Each Round

  • When a team at the head table gets a Bunco, or reaches 21 points they ring the bell to signify the end of that round
  • Each player then marks either a “W” for win, or a “L” for loss in the space provided on their individual score sheet, which is determined by the team at each table with the most points (Wins and Losses are awarded to the team, and Bunco’s are awarded to the individual)
  • If there is a tie, the teams will then “Roll-Off” to find a winner (highest roll wins)
  • The winning team at the head table stays there, but will have a member move over a chair to swap teammates for the next round
  • The losing team at the head table moves to table 2, and the winning team from table 2 moves to the head table
  • Similarly the winning team from table 3 moves to table 2, and the losing team from table 2 moves to table 3, each swapping partners for the next round

Continuing the Game

  • Once again the head table rings the bell to start round 2, and each player tries to roll for twos (two is now the number that’s “up”).
  • Play will continue for 2 complete sets, meaning 6 rounds per set, so 12 total rounds.
  • Usually after 2 sets Bunco players like to take a break, have some dessert, and then continue for 2 more sets
  • The game ends when 4 sets have been completed. Then each person adds up their total Bunco’s Wins and Losses (Yes, losses too)

Bunco Prizes

Similar to poker games, each player has a suggested contribution of $5. Prizes are selected by the host/hostess prior to the game with the contribution from each player. Once again, winners are determined by the total numbers of wins or losses after all 4 sets of Bunco play. If there is a tie score, then a Roll-Off for the highest roll wins the prize.

Bunco Prize Tiers

$20 Prize – Most Buncos: Awarded to the player with the most Buncos
$15 Prize – Most Wins: Awarded to the player with the most overall wins
$10 Prize – Traveling: Awarded to the player holding the Fuzzy Die (last person to roll a Bunco)
$8 Prize – 50/50: Awarded to the player with equal wins and losses
$5 Prize – Most Losses: Awarded to the player with the most overall losses
$2 Prize – “At Least I’m Taking Something Home”: The host collects the remaining score sheets from players without prizes and draws a winner

Frequently Asked Questions About Bunco

Can We Play Bunco with More or Less Than 12 People?

Yes! All you have to do is either increase or decrease the number of tables and dice, but remember that every table must have at least 4 players.

What If We Have an Odd Number of Players for Bunco?

Simple, just substitute a ghost player. Ghost players are invisible players that travel from table to table just like a regular player, but their partner rolls for their turn.

What About The Traveling Fuzzy Die?

This dice moves around as players get Buncos (or roll 3 of a kind of the same number of the round they’re in). So if you get a Bunco, then the last person to get the Bunco tosses over the Fuzzy die. A special prize is awarded at the end of the game to whoever is holding the fuzzie die.

What About Rolling A Bunco When You’re Not at the Head Table?

If you’re not at the head table and you roll a Bunco, tally 21 points for your team and keep playing. Remember the round only ends when someone at the head table rolls a Bunco or get 21 points.

How Do I organize a Bunco Party?

Get creative! Some Bunco Hosts/Hostesses like to server dinner and drinks before the game and hand out each player’s score cards, then serve dessert after 2 sets. Other’s base the game around a theme such as “Hawaiian Luau,” or “Girl’s Night Out” and hand out invitations.

Bunco players say that the best thing about Bunco is that it’s a “girl’s night out” and compare it to “Poker night” for gals. The best part about Bunco is how relaxed and fun it can be. As we’ve heard it, “Bunco Players have talent, they can roll dice and talk at the same time!”

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