At one time or another, most bingo players have wondered whether there’s any way to shorten odds and increase their chances success during a game. Because, while we’re well aware that there are plenty of benefits to bingo besides winning, it’s still an especially nice feeling when you earn some extra cash or bag a big prize.
The question is so debated that it’s even caught the attention of some pretty big names (at least in the world of statistics). So, to settle the argument once and for all, we’re going to take an in-depth look at some of the different strategies people use when playing bingo, and see whether they can really help us win.
What we’re ultimately going to find out is whether there’s a knack to choosing bingo numbers, or if any old bingo ticket will do.
This week, we’re focussing on the game plan put forward by Joseph E. Granville, an American financial writer with some pretty out-there theories.
Granville based his strategy on 75 ball bingo, and worked on the premise that balls are drawn (or, online, generated) at random. Each number therefore has an equal chance of appearing. So far, so good. After, all, we’ve already seen that legal, regulated bingo must prove itself to be fair.
He then suggested that to increase your probability of winning, you should opt for a bingo ticket with numbers that are as different to each other as possible. Following this advice, your card should have an equal spread of high, low, even and odd numbers—and, even more difficult, it should feature numbers with as many different last digits as possible. For instance, if your ticket includes the number 16, you should try to make sure that the other numbers end in digits other than 6. As much as possible, this would mean avoiding the numbers 6, 26, 36, 46 etc.
Granville was so sure that his theory worked, that he even wrote a book about it back in the ‘70s, called How To Win At Bingo. So what are the pros and cons of using it as a strategy in our own bingo sessions?
Granville was quite right when he said that all numbers have an equal chance of being chosen. If you made a tally of all the numbers that are picked over a long period of time, each number would appear roughly the same amount of times—just like if you kept on rolling a dice.
This next part is easier to think about if you image a physical bingo cage and balls, rather than the electronic Random Number Generators (RNGs) used online today.
If you start with 75 bingo balls, and the first number to be taken out of the cage is 26, this will reduce the amount of even-numbered balls left by 1. Therefore the probability that an odd number will get picked next time is every so slightly increased.
Likewise, if 26 gets chosen, there will also be fewer remaining balls that end in a ‘6’; it is more likely that a number ending in a different digit will be pulled from the cage.
The theory uses rational principles like probability, and appears to make logical sense.
If the theory’s so great, why is it not used by everyone?
The trouble with Granville’s system is that even though it makes sense over a long period of time, it doesn’t really help too much when actually choosing a bingo ticket. The strategy is just not specific enough for us to accurately predict which numbers will come up.
The probabilities change constantly throughout a game, and tend to refer to groups of digits, rather than individual numbers. That means that there are still far too many possibilities with equal likelihood of being chosen to make it a really useful strategy. In other words, although Granville’s ideas may help you to pick winning bingo numbers, they equally (but perhaps unfairly) may not.
So, sadly, it would seem that this strategy isn’t going to provide us any magic answers.
Check out the rest of the series. Next we take a look at Leonard Tippet’s theory for winning at bingo. Perhaps that one will work for us?
Fancy giving Granville’s game plan a go? Let us know how you get on in the comments below.