The popularity of bunco is already well-known. The key to the success of the game may lie right in its simplicity- you do not have to be a mastermind in order to play. The rules are fairly simple, and you will not end the round with a headache. If you look for a couple of hours of pure entertainment, bunco is a game for you. And this is how it is played. Though certain rules of bunco may vary from player to player, these usually refer to the organization of the game. Some people like more formal and competitive atmosphere, whereas the others tend towards more laid-back gaming experience. Moreover, some people prefer shorter rounds, while some indulge in bunco marathons. Nevertheless, there are fundamental rules which are more or less the same wherever you play bunco.
First of all, let's see what you actually need to play bunco. Since the game is played at three tables (more on that a bit later), you need nine dice, or three per table. Players need to keep scores actively, so it is necessary for them to have a pen and two pieces of paper. One piece of paper will serve as an individual record of a player, whereas the other will be used as a tally paper for tables. It is usual that there is a bell at the head table which denotes the end of the round, but players can invent their own way of signalisation. And that is essentially it when the equipment is concerned.
As far as the gaming arrangement is regarded, it is customary that bunco is played at three tables- the head one, the middle one, and the third table or the so-called "Losing table". Players change their positions between the tables according to their results. Those who win move from the third table to the head table and those who lose take the reverse path. Initial positions are usually defined by draw, and it is possible that you spend the whole night at one table, if you are good (or bad) enough. Each table has two pairs of competitors with those who sit across each other being on the same team. Hence, it is best if there are 12 players (or any number divisible by four), but it is not a big deal if there is an odd number of players. In that case, "ghosts" are introduced. This means that the player who can not find a pair, rolls dice two times, once for himself and the other time for his "ghost" partner.
Last, but not least, we come to the rules of the actual game. Banco is divided into smaller parts called hands. Usually, four hands are played, but it can be any number, really. Each hand consists of six rounds. The goal of the each team is to win the round by winning 21 points. How is this accomplished? Well, it depends from round to round. In the first round, teams are awarded if they roll "ones". The game starts with the scorekeeper rolling the dice. If he gets "one", he receives a point and keeps rolling. If he gets three "ones", he has to say "Bunco!", thus winning 21 points and securing his team the victory in that round. If he gets three of a kind which is not awarded in that particular round (e.g if he gets three "fours" in the first round), he gets five points. Once a player stops receiving the wanted number, he passes the dice to the player left to himself (so, his opponent), who repeats the process. Once somebody at the head table wins the round, the game stops at the second and the third table, and whatever result is accomplished there is written as the final for that round. If the score is tied, additional round is played until one of the teams gain the advantage. This is how the game is played in all the other rounds with only the wanted number that brings points changing (in the second round, players go after "twos", in the third round they go after "threes" and so on).
In the end of the night, individual score papers are examined and the player with most wins (or buncos, if that is the agreement) wins and takes the prize.That is the story of bunco for you. It may seem complicated at first, but once the dice get rolling, one will see that this game is very easy and very fun to play. No wonder it is tremendously popular.