Bunco Rules

  1. Easy Party Ideas
  2. Bunco Rules

This post may contain affiliate links. Read our full disclosure policy. 

Bunco rules are varied! That is one of the fun things of the game - no two bunco groups play alike.


I've been on a quest to find as many of the bunco variations as possible

Bunco Rules and FAQ

And there are a lot of bunco game rules variations!

After reading these, you can pick which bunco game rules you'd like to follow.

If you are joining a bunco group, they will already have rules that are established, so check with that particular group.

If you are starting your own bunco group, you'll find these bunko (bunco) rules to be helpful.

First, the basics...

How to Play Bunco: Some Basic Bunco Rules

To start with, some people spell it bunko, so this section is "How to Play Bunko" for those folks...but bunco and bunko are the same game.

Basic bunco rules are as follows:

Game Set up

  • Players divide into groups of four
  • Each group of four should have a set of three dice.
  • Each player should have a pencil and a scoresheet (free printable bunco score sheets)
  • Each table of four players is numbered: Number One (head table), Two, Three, etc.
  • Play Begins

    In the first round, the Head Table begins to play, which signals other tables to begin as well.

    Each round has a "target number." The target number of the first round is "ones", so you try to roll "ones" with the dice.

    As your roll, record your target numbers as your roll them. For example, if you are playing "ones," record each "one" that you roll.

    If you don't roll a "one," it is the next players turn.

    Record your score, and combine it with the player across from you, who is considered your "partner" for that round.

    Play Ends

    When one of the teams at the table reaches 21 points, play ends.

    Players then switch to another table. The winning team moves up a table, and the losing team stays where they are. The only exception is at the head table. The winners stay, and the losers move to the "lowest" table.

    Play Begins Again

    Begin a new round, where players try to roll a new "target number". In our example, next try to roll "twos".

    More bunco rules

  • Don't partner with the same person two rounds in a row
  • If someone rolls 3 of kind, it is 5 points
  • Keep track of how many rounds you have won or lost
  • If you roll 3 of a kind of the target number, that is "bunco!" and an instant 21 points
  • Bunco Game

    Bunco Rules Variations

    Since there really aren't any official rules of bunco, there are lots of variations.

    Here are some common bunco/bunko rules variations:

    Q: When do the tables start playing a round?

    A:Everyone begins at the same time. The players at the head table may use a bell to ring to signal that it is time for play to begin.

    Q: When does the round end?

    A:Some groups use bunco rules that let each table play until a team earns 21 points.

    However, the head table can control the end of the game as well. In this case, the game ends whenever the head table reaches 21 points and they ring a bell to signal the end of the round. Other tables will play to whatever number they reach - whether it be 1 or 21, or 100. They stop playing only when the head table stops.

    Q: What happens if the head table rings a bell to stop the game, but someone is in the middle of their turn?

    A:There are several possibilities, and this is a rule that should be established before you begin playing.

    One option is, if a bell rings to end the game everything stops. Period.

    Another option, if the bell rings while a player is rolling the dice, the points count. If the player is about to roll, but the dice haven't left her hand, then no roll is allowed.

    A third option is to allow a player to completely finish their turn by continuing to roll until they no longer get their target number.

    Q: What if someone rolls a bunco (3 of a kind) on their first try?

    A:Congratulations! The dice must move all the way around the table at least one time. After all, one of the other players may roll bunco too!


    Q: Do I play with the same partner all night?

    A:No. One of the great things about bunco is the ability to play with different people and continually switch partners. After each round, play with a new partner. However, it is OK (and inevitable) to play with someone more than once over the course of the night.

    Keeping true to the fact that there many ways to play bunco and many different bunco rules, some groups let the players at the head table keep their partners.

    Q: Do I have to have 12 people? I have 15 who are interested in playing.

    A:It is best to play with multiples of 4. If you don't have enough people to play, you can always play with a "ghost". The person who is partners will the ghost will roll for herself and the ghost.

    Q: How can we keep track of which table is which? I will have more than three tables.

    A:Make a sign to go on each table, along with instructions on what to do at the end of the round. For example "Table 2. Winners move to the Head Table. Losers stay."

    Q: What is "traveling" bunco item?

    A: Many groups use a traveling item of some sort to show who has most recently rolled three of a kind of the target number. Our group uses a boa. Some use a tiara, a stuffed animal, or if you are having a bunco night with a theme, an item that goes along with the theme.

    Sometimes a bunco prize is given to the player who has possession of the traveling item at the end of the night.

    Q: I rolled three of a kind, but not of the target number. Can I get anything for this?

    A:That is what our group calls a "mini-bunco". Many groups will make this roll worth 5 points.

    Q: I have heard about players diving for dice. What's up?

    A:Some groups add this to their bunco rules for their game, and it is sometimes called "scramble". Usually, if someone rolls three of kind of the target number (a bunco) everyone tries to grab the dice.

    Q: What happens if one of the dice falls on the floor?

    A: Pick up the one dice that hit the floor and roll it. Do not re-roll the ones that stayed on the table.

    Q: What should we use as bunco prizes?

    A: Check out our page of bunco prizes for ideas. You'll want to set up your prizes, what they are and how they are determined, before you ever play your first game with your bunco group.


    Have a Bunco Question? Or...

    Have any great bunco ideas to share?

    If you've played this fun and easy game - share with our visitors your bunco themes, rules, recipes, prizes and photos!

    What Other Visitors Have Said

    Click below to see contributions from other visitors to this page...

    Table Rotation Question 
    If you have three tables how do you rotate?

    Head Table Rules 
    Question: At the head table, one team got to 21 and called it, but the other team had 25 and was too busy talking and got distracted. Who is the winner? …

    Non-Head Table Question 
    If you're playing the variation that the head table has to reach 21 to stop the game, what happens to the other tables when they reach 21 or get a bunco? …

    Bunco Wedding Shower  
    We are having a wedding shower and wanted to play bunko there are 48 people coming. I understand the rules but not sure how to deal with that many people. …

    Leaving Bunco Table 
    What happens when someone leaves the table during the round and asks partner to 'play for me'? (Example: have phone call, bathroom need, etc) Who gets …

    Allocating Bunco Prizes 
    I have a question. We have 5 cash prize payouts. Tonight I began with the lowest cash prize. There were arguments because the person that won the lowest …

    Bunco Ghost Question 
    I have a question on using a ghost in bunko. I plan to use a teddy bear as the ghost. Do you rotate it the way players rotate from table to table at the …

    Bunco Score Card Ties 
    Handling bunco score card ties is easy. And for sure it's going to happen, sooner or later! Either the teams at a table will tie, or at the end of …

    My Bunco Group 
    Miss my bunco group... we used a rubber aligator instead of a boa... not sure how it started.. being we were a monthly group.. we each hosted once a year. …

    How to Play a Big Bunco Game  
    Tonight I got to play a big bunco game with a great group of friends. Lots of them, as a matter of fact! We had 4 tables going (16 people). So, we had …

    Huge Bunco Game Question Not rated yet
    I have a question. Our church would like to plan a fellowship bunco night for women and men, but we are not sure of the best way to arrange and play with …

    Pokeeno Not rated yet
    This is an alternative game to bunco that your group might want to play one month. We have what looks like a bingo card only it is with pictures of …

    How to Play Bunco Not rated yet
    Do you need to know how to play bunco with an odd number of players? Our monthly game is a rather loose affair. We have a list of people who want to …

    Weighted Bunco Scores Not rated yet
    We weight our scores. To do that, the each table uses a different colored pin to mark down the wins and losses for each player. The high table uses …

    Bunco Wipeout and Scramble Not rated yet
    We play a way we call "bunco wipeout". With this only rounds 2 - 6 are played (the "ones" round is skipped.) Then, if someone rolls three "ones" it is …

    Bunco the Game of Dice Not rated yet
    Bunco is a game of dice played in rounds but when we play it we play with two tables (two teams at each table). In our game the players score points by …

    Bunko Dice Not rated yet
    Instead of using a boa, our bunco group has a pair of fuzzy bunko dice. Whoever has just rolled a bunko has possession of the fuzzy dice. Whoever has them …

    Click here to write your own.

    Airplane Variation
    By: Greg in Chicago, IL
    If any player rolls a bunco while having points, player loses all points starting back at zero.

    Bunco Invitation
    By: Shelly in San Angelo, TX
    If you and your friends are internet friendly/saavy, you can use evite.com for free invites that go to email! I love using this site.

    Baby Buncos
    By: Anonymous
    If you roll 3 of a kind (bunco) when it is not the right number we call them a baby bunco and keep track for an end of the night prize.

    By: Jan in CA
    Whatever number is chosen at the beginning of the night, let's say 1's, whenever three 1's is rolled, both groups of partners at that table switch scores. If my partner and I had 10 Pts and the others had 1, we switch scores and I would now have 1 instead of 10. 

    How we settle disputes
    By: Sue in GA
    WorldBunco.com helps settle disputes that do arrive.

    Click here to add your bunco ideas or questions.

    This site is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

    Let's Connect!

    Share this page:

    Other Bunco Links

    Free Bunco Score Sheets to use with these Bunco Rules

    Bunco Party Theme Ideas

    How to Find or Start a Bunco Group

    Bunco Supplies