Bunco: A Dice Party Game for Socializing and Having Fun

Playing the dice game of Bunco is a way for friends and family to gather together and have a great time with a bell, some dice, and a score pad.

Not all games are made to be played by completing complex and strategic maneuvers or carefully plotting clever attacks.  Sometimes, a game is just a roll of the dice.  Sometimes, players only want a reason to gather around and have a great time.  Bunco provides the basis for both of these.  With a simple roll of three dice, players can relax and enjoy the fun and games.  The time can be spent around friends, food, and conversation.  Prizes can even be offered!

Bunco is commonly played with 12 people.  Larger or smaller groups of 4 are able to play, though.  The set-up and play is adjusted accordingly.  For a group of 12, the set-up is as follows:

  • Players are divided into three groups of 4 players.  
  • Each group has their own table (or area) and is provided with three dice. 
  • Each player is given a pencil and score pad.  The scorekeeper of each table has a separate scratch pad.
  • Each player is the teammate of the person sitting across from her or him.  (After each round, teams change)
  • Designate a ‘head’ table.  It is at this table the ‘bell’ will ring which signals the start and end of the rounds.  There are six rounds in a set.  At least 2-4 sets to a game.

Now, the fun begins.  Ring the bell!  Scorekeepers of each table go first and roll the three dice.  Based on the rolls, scoring is calculated. The object of the game is to accumulate the most points or the most Bunco’s within the sets as an individual player.

 Game play and scoring is as follows:

The ‘head’ table determines the playing time.  The scorekeeper of the head table will ring the bell to signal the start and end of each round.   Only after either team of the head table accumulates 21 points or rolls a ‘Bunco” does the round end for all players.

  • At the ring of the starting bell, a player from each table rolls the three dice.  They continue to roll the dice until they do not score any points during their roll. Play would then move to the next player.
  • Points are given for each die matching the current round number.  For example, if it is ‘round 1’ and a player rolls a 3,1,and 1.  The player would receive 2 points (1 point for each die matching the round) and roll again.
  • Five points are given for a roll of triples, no matter what the round number is.  For example, if a player rolls three 5’s in round 1, he receives 5 points.
  • A Bunco is called if three rolled die match the round number.  For example, if it is round 4, and the player rolls three 4’s.  They have rolled a ‘Bunco!’  They receive 21 points.  If this player was at the head table, the round would end.  However, if this is at any other table, play continues.
  • Once the ‘head’ table has accumulated 21 points (either by numerous rolls or Bunco), the round ends for all tables and points are total. 

Team points are tallied as follows:

  • The two players of a team at a table are added together.  High team score wins.  Each player of the team marks W or L on score pad.

Individual points are tallied as follows:

  • If part of a ‘loser team’, an individual player receives 0 points.
  • If part of a ‘winning team’, an individual player receives 10 points
  • If an individual player rolled a Bunco, he receives 25 points.


An individual marks 1 point for each Bunco rolled during the rounds. And 1 point for W or L.

Losers of the ‘head’ table then move to the middle table.  Losers of the other two tables stay put, moving over a chair to change partners. (The winners of the end table moves to the ‘head’, the middle winners move to end)

That’s it.

Since that is all to the game, players are able to joke, laugh, tell stories, and enjoy the rolling good time.  Oh, and eat and drink!  They are probably the most important things to do at a party.  To keep with the theme of dice rolling, the Cake to Die For can be baked and delighted in.

Once the games are over, the option of prizes can be handed out.

Some parties give a prize for the first Bunco rolled in the night.  Others offer prizes to the player with the most wins, or most rolled Buncos, or even the most Losses.  Whether prizes are provided or not will not determine the fun of the game night.  That is determined by the assembly of friends and family.


A little history:
Bunco started out in America in 1855 as mainly a gambling game.  It was originally known as 8 Dice Cloth and played in the 18th century in England.  In the late 1800’s to early 1900’s it became a popular parlor game for families.  Sitting around the table playing a game, instead of watching TV, was a common activity for the time.  However, through the wars and the development of ‘newer’ kinds of entertainment, Bunco lost its draw and became a forgotten pastime.  Bunco would re-appear in the 1980’s and today can be found being played by children and adults of all ages.  The amusing dice game of Bunco has returned and even more vibrantly.

Jenny Kile

Admin. of All About Fun and Games. Along with being an avid collector and player of table top games, I am a writer, researcher, treasure hunter, and Founder of Kardtects ( kardtects.com. ) I believe fun is everywhere and you are welcome to visit my other sites: mysteriouswritings.com (which explores mystery, adventure and the search for treasures) and kardtects.com (which takes building card houses to completely new levels. Kardtects is the next generation of card house building!) Email: Jennykile@outlook.com

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