Behind the Scenes: The Life of a Bingo Caller

bingoThe bingo caller is the focal point of a bingo hall. This person is the most visible, the most prominent, and the most important persona in all bingo games. For most players, the caller is merely the mouthman who announces the numbers; for a few fortunate players, the caller is Luck personified, especially if he or she will call out that one number to complete a player’s bingo.

On Reddit, there are a few AmA (Ask Me Anything) sessions from bingo hall workers and callers that provide a personal and intimate look into how these establishments are run. Let’s take a look at some of the most interesting revelations:

(From bingo caller elephantgun42)

Having multiple players call out bingo at the same time is possible, and often happens when there is a large crowd of people playing. Fights are rare during these situations, since those with valid bingo get to split up the prize money among themselves. Bingo caller elephantgun42 experienced having 30 people call out bingo all at the same time.
Though calling out puns and funny names for numbers (e.g. “clickety-click” for 66, “two ducks swimming” for 22, and so on) seem fun, they are rarely practiced, and even avoided by serious callers. The best single trait that a caller can have is perfect diction and these puns are often confusing and unnecessary. Some callers often make themselves to be as personality-less as possible, since players are more likely to get annoyed if you’re bubbly and cheery while they are on a losing streak.

It’s very common for players to give out their false alarms; it happens several times in a single shift. Another problem is that there are players, having already been given a lot of time to check their cards, still insist on calling out a bingo even after the game is closed. This kind of late bingo is not valid, and no self-respecting caller will honor it.
Bingo callers are paid relatively well. Their salary is often a few dollars above the minimum wage, plus they get most of the tips they earn. They are paid anywhere from $40 to $60 per session.

Most bingo hall patrons are old people, especially grandmothers. If you’re charming enough, grandmothers will try to flirt with you.

(From bingo cage worker somestonedguy)

Bingo halls, unlike shady casinos, rarely engage in illegal or corrupt practices, especially if they are operating on a lottery commission-certified charity bingo license. Their operations are heavily monitored, regulated and taxed down to the very last dollar. Still there are workers and staff who try to cheat the system by stealing money or not splitting a tip correctly. They are almost always discovered instantly and promptly fired out from the establishment. Somestonedguy’s bingo hall fires at least three employees per year due to stealing.

Most people can handle about six cards per round. There are stubborn people who insist on playing more, and they are often the same players who complain that the caller is going too fast.

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