Bunko, A.K.A., Bunco

Bunco, sometimes spelled Bunko, is a party game using dice. Looking around the Internet, there seems to be no “Official Rules of Bunko,” rather a general consensus of the rules.
You need:
12 people. Alternatively you can have 16, but it probably doesn’t work so well with 20 or 24 and so on.
A bell.
3 tables with 4 people each. Obviously if you are playing with 16 people, you’ll need a fourth table.
At each table you need 3 dice, 2 notepads for each team’s “temporary” scores and a pencil or pen for each notepad to mark the score. Alternatively, you can have one notepad and pencil at each table with one scorekeeper per table.
Each player will get a scorecard, to be talked about in a moment.
There is an optional rule for a large fuzzy dice or other soft object.
There is yet another optional rule for another soft fuzzy item.
Not required, but perhaps helpful is a 3 or 4 place holders to say which table is which. You’ll learn more about that in a bit.
Also not required, but as it is a party game, food and drinks is a good idea.
Read on to learn more.
A table is selected as the Head Table. This table gets the bell.
If there are 4 tables, the next table, counter-clockwise from the Head Table is the High Table, then the Middle Table, then the Low Table. If there are only 3 tables, then the Head Table is also known as the High Table. This is where having a placeholder might be helpful, so people remember which table is which.
Each player gets a score card, which should have the player’s name on the top. Below that you track your wins and losses. Below are a couple examples of the front of the score card.
Bunko scorecard - Front - Option 1 Bunko scorecard - Front - Option 2
I personally like the second one since it allow you to track for each round and each match. (Where the card says Round, it should have said Match… but I didn’t save the project so I am not going to fix it. :))
The back of the card, or separate card, either way, needs to track at least two things. Times at the Head Table and Times you scored a Bunco. Optionally you can track the number of times you get a Monte Carlo, sometimes called a Baby Bunko (don’t worry these terms will be explained in a bit) and there is another option to track Wipeouts, or more traditionally called Wipeouts. An example of the back of a Bunko card is below.
Bunko scorecard - Front - Option 2
I obviously didn’t spend a great deal of time making these cards look super good. They are about 4″x5.5″ so you should be able to get 4 or so per page if you really want to use them. They are here as examples only, but may be used in private games, but not for profit…yada yada type stuff in the event somebody wanted to actually steal them… 🙂 Anyhow, with the example above, if Monte Carlo rules are being used, then you would circle Y, same goes for Wipeout, if not circle N. Of course when making your own cards, if you aren’t using those rules, don’t put them on there. At the game we played, we used a hole punch to mark score, the above example assumes you’ll use a hash mark just like the temporary score sheet.
People sit wherever. It doesn’t really matter who your partner is, since in the next round your partner will change. Your partner is the one across from you. One person on a team keeps the “temporary” score. This is best done with hash marks (you know 4 lines then the 5th crosses them), but you can use whatever you like best. If there is only one scorecard per table, it should have a line down the length of it, with one side saying “Us” the other side saying “Them,” and keeping score that way. This score sheet, as noted is only temporary, it is used to track the team’s points (more on that in a bit). The team with the most points will put a mark in the Win spot on each team member’s individual score card, while the team with the least points puts a mark in their Lost spot.
It may seem complex from the above, but it really is simple.
It is now time to play the game.
Each player at the Head Table marks a spot the spot on their individual score card where it says Head Table (to be covered in a bit).
When everyone is ready the Head Table hits the bell and the round starts.
If there is one score keeper, they start first. If each team has a scorekeeper, the scorekeeper with their back most directly to the head table will start; in the case of the head table the scorekeeper with their back most directly at the next lowest table goes first (that is if the Head Table is the High Table, the scorekeeper with their back most directly to the Middle Table goes first).
Let’s look at the one score card again:
Bunko scorecard - Front - Option 2
For the first round you want to roll 1’s, the second round 2’s, the third 3s and so on to the sixth round where you want to roll 6’s, this is your objective number. A player scores one point (placed on the temporary score sheet) for each objective number they roll. If they roll 3 of kind of the objective number they got Bunko and get 21 points. If they roll 3 of kind of any of the other numbers they get 5 points, this is a Monte Carlo (unless Wipeout rules are in effect, where if it is 3 1’s, it is a Wipeout). The player will keep rolling so long as they score one or more points on the objective number.
So let us pretend it is the first round, so our objective number is 1. The player rolls a 1, 3 and 5. They get 1 point so far. They get to roll again as they scored. Their next roll results in a 1, a 2 and a 1. They get 2 more points and roll again. Their next roll is a 3, 5 and 7. They get no more points and pass the dice to their left. The next player still has the objective of 1. They roll a 4, 4 and 4. They get 5 points, but have to pass the dice since they didn’t score on the objective number. The next player is on the first player’s team and their points count to that temporary score. If a player scores a Bunko they get to mark that on their personal score card when they score it. If Monte Carlo and/or Wipeout rules are in play, those are marked when scored as well. The details of those will be covered later.
Play continues in such a manner until one of the teams at the Head Table score 21 points (if they went over 21 points, that’s fine) where they will ring the bell again. This stops play at all tables. Each team compares their scores. Each player will then make a mark on the Win or Loss spot on their personal score card, or in the case of the above card, you would mark a W or L next to the round number for each match. There are 3 matches (or sets) in a game. Notice that it is until one of the teams at the Head Table score 21. A team or both teams at another table may have more then 21. The tables outside the head table play from bell to bell, only the Head Table stops at 21.
In the event of a tie at a table. There is a roll-off, which is played like a regular round until there is a team with one or more point lead at the end of the round.
Now it is time to shift tables and teams.
Table/Team Shift:
The team that Lost at the Head table goes to the Low table. The team that Won the round at the other tables advance one table up the line. That is the team that Won the Low table moves to the Middle table, the team that Won the Middle table moves to the High Table (even if it is the Head Table). At the same time, you change partners. So player A and B were the winning players at the Head Table, they get to stay, but they won’t be partners during the next round, they will partner with one of the winners from the next table down the line that came over to their table.
When everyone is ready again, the bell rings and the next round begins. We left our example last time at round one. It is now round 2, so 2 is the objective number.
Play continues in such form until all 6 rounds are done. As noted before there are typically 3 matches, sets or whatever you want to call them per game.
Player Scoring:
Each player scores their cards and adds up the total Wins, Losses, Bunkos and Head Table. If Monte Carlo and/or Wipeout are being played then those are added up as well.
How simple was that?
Prizes (Optional):
There are normally prizes involved, but not needed. The typical order goes as follows (from highest to lowest):

  • Most Bunko’s
  • Most Win’s
  • Most Losses
  • Most Wipeouts
  • Middle Ground (equal number of wins and losses)
  • First Bunko (if tracked)
  • Last person to hold the traveling Fuzzy Dice
  • Last person to hold the traveling Wipeout fuzzy item

The Optional Rules:

  • What about those Fuzzy dice? Well the first person to get a Bunko (remember, 3 of a kind in the target number) gets the dice first, then it goes to the next person to get Bunko and so on. If you get a Bunko, you shout “Bunko!” and the Fuzzy Dice is tossed at you. If somebody else then gets a Bunko and shouts it, you toss them the Fuzzy Dice. It just travels around until the game ends. If it is being used, they typically get a prize. Normally this will be the host/hostess prize.
  • The other soft item, or fuzzy item? That, as you can see by the prize listing, follows whomever gets a Wipeout. A Wipeout is 3 1’s, regardless of the target number. Typically if Wipeout Rules are in play, you skip the 1’s round.
  • Wipeout. There is a further extension of the Wipeout rule, which is what typically is meant when it is in play. If a player hit the Wipeout, all their team’s points for that round reset to zero. This is why there may be a fuzzy item tossed with it, so the last person to get a Wipeout can at least get a consolation prize for destroying their team’s points. 🙂
  • Weighted Score. A Win and Loss at the Head table can count for more points. This score is always the same, that is if a Win at the Head table counts for 2, the Loss counts for 2 as well. Generally it is only 2 points.

That is it in a nutshell.
There are a couple Bunko books.
It's Bunco Time! Cookbook and Party IdeasIt’s Bunco Time! Cookbook and Party Ideas
Let's Play Bunco: A Game in a Box (Mini Kits)Let’s Play Bunco: A Game in a Box (Mini Kits)
Then of course lots of games:
BUNCO Party Game TinBUNCO Party Game Tin
It's Bunco TimeIt’s Bunco Time
Box of BuncoBox of Bunco
Deluxe Bunco TinDeluxe Bunco Tin
and of course if you having a Bunco party you need invitations:
Bunco InvitationsBunco Invitations
and then you may need score cards:
Bunco Score Pads 6 PackBunco Score Pads 6 Pack
Then there is the obligatory kids version:
Bunco for JuniorsBunco for Juniors
And finally, an electronic hand held version:
BUNCO Night Handheld GameBUNCO Night Handheld Game

Shh…. While the above boxed games aren’t too expensive, personally, I would just go to Wal-Mart, get a few notepads to track scores on, perhaps index or recipe cards for the player’s score cards, and some dice there…

A few Bunko sites:
Tricia’s Bunco Rules which does a far better job of explaining the rules then I did here. She also has nice graphics to go with it all. You got to figure anyone who has Buncorules.com as their URL probably has the better lowdown on it all… well, normally, and in this case true.
Bunko, also does a better job of explaining the rules then I did.

…And that will do it for tonight. I am going to bed.

One thought on “Bunko, A.K.A., Bunco”

  1. Hi. Thank you for your explanation. It was quite clear and concise, and I am anxious to start playing Bunko with our friends. – Mar

Comments are closed.