As a game that has evolved from it's origins in England, through generations of players and enthusiasts, there is no one "official" set of Bunco rules. However, the following appears to be some of the most common rules used today:
Bunco can be played with standard six-sided dice dice, and tally and score sheets that you create yourself (or print templates off the web). But if you're just getting started, it's easiest to simply purchase a commercial Bunco kit, which will contain everything you need to get your Bunco party off and running quickly and efficiently.
Bunco is best when played with 12 people, arranged among three tables with four players each. The four players at each table play as two partnerships, with the partners sitting across the table from each other. Players use tally sheets to keep track of their progress during a round, and a score sheet to mark down their results after a round is complete. One table, designated the "head table" or "table #1", receives a bell.
When the bell at the head table is rung, it signals the start of a round. Players at each table then take turns rolling the dice and scoring points until the head table scores a Bunco or reaches 21 points.
Each round has a "target number", starting at "1" and incrementing to "6".
Points are scored for the following combinations:
- One point for each time a target number comes up.
- 5 points for each time a three-of-a-kind on an off-target number is rolled.
- 21 points for a three-of-a-kind on the target number.
Each player in a partnership records the same score, no matter which of them scores. Turn passes from player to player around the table, with each player continuing to roll as they score points. As soon as they roll a non-scoring throw, the turn passes to the next player.
At the end of the round (when the head table rings their bell), the partnership with the highest score at each table adds their round score to their total score; the losing partnership scores zero.
At the end of the round, one member of each winning team shifts over one seat, and the two losing players move to a different table. In this way, the partnerships change fluidly during a game.
Play continues for rounds 1 through six. The winner is the player with the overall highest score.
As you can see, Bunco is a fast-paced game that requires very little skill, but is loads of fun, and gets people mingling and playing together!
There are innumerable variations and house rules for the game of Bunco. The following are some of the most common:
- Some groups play four games to establish a winner. Each 6-round session is called a "set". Four sets make a game.
- Some groups play the rounds in opposite order: 6-5-4-3-2-1
- Some groups score a "Low Bunco" for a three-of-a-kind lower than the target number as 7 points, and a "High Bunco" for a three-of-a-kind higher than the target number as 5 points.
- Some groups play for small monetary stakes, using an ante system (refer to one of the links below for details).
- Some groups award prizes for achievements during a game – most Bunco's most wins, most losses, etc.
There's a lot of room for creativity and individuality in the game of Bunco, so no matter the rules you all agree on, have fun with it!
Bunco Rule Links
To learn more about the game of Bunco, consult one of the many fine web sites below, which provide additional rules and party ideas.
Bunco rules and variations, plus party ideas and ante/prize suggestions.
- The Bunko Book
The Bunko Book is the definitive reference on the game of Bunko, with rules and dozens of variations gathered from more than 30,000 respondents. We've helped thousands learn to play the game and create their own groups. What's stopping you?
- Tricia's Bunco Rules
Illustrated rules of the game, plus other fun Bunco miscellanea.
- World Bunco Association Rules
The "official" rules from the World Bunco Association, as used in sanctioned games and tournaments.