How to Plan a Bunco Tournament

Updated June 28, 2021
Rolling red dices on a green casino felt

If you want to learn how to plan a Bunco tournament, you are not alone. The game, which began in 18th century England as a game called Eight-Dice Cloth, is enjoying a surge of popularity. According to the World Bunco Association, this new interest stems from "a return to traditional family values, a sense of neighborhood and community, and the desire and need for social interaction."

Bunco Rules

Bunco is usually played with 12 people at three tables, but you can easily have more players, especially if you are having a tournament. Each table has three dice, two pencils and two notepads to tally the scores. At the Head Table, there is also a bell and a fuzzy die. The object of Bunco is to accumulate the most wins or Buncos during four rounds of play. Before play, score sheets are taken and a star is drawn on four of them. These are shuffled and the players each pick a sheet. Those drawing a star begin at the Head Table. The remaining players sit where they like at the other tables, each dividing into two teams with teammates seated opposite each other.

The Ghost

If you have a threesome at one table, you may play with a ghost player. The partner of the ghost makes the ghost's rolls. The bookkeeping is the same, with the ghost's score being recorded just like everyone else's.


Players want their die rolls to match the number of the round being played. If it is Round One and the dice come up 1-3-1, that is two points, because two of the dice came up "1". If, however, the same roll was made in Round Three, it would only be worth one point because only a single three came up. Rolling the same number on each die, 6-6-6 for example, when it does not match the round number, is worth five points. Rolling three of a kind in the correct round, gives you Bunco, which is worth 21 points. For example, rolling 3-3-3 in Round Three is Bunco.

Shifting Places and the Next Round

Play continues until one of the teams at the Head Table reach a score of 21, either through regular play or by rolling Bunco. The bell is rung, scores are tallied, and wins and losses recorded. The winners at the Head Table stay, one player changing seats to create a new team pairing. The losing team changes places with the winning team from Table Two. The losing team from Table Two switches places with the winning team from Table Three. The losing team from Table Three stays put, but one player changes seats to create a new team pairing.

The bell is rung to start Round Two, where the goal is to roll twos. This continues through two complete sets of play. There is a break and then two more complete sets. At the end, wins and losses are tallied up and rankings declared.

How to Plan a Bunco Tournament

A Bunco tournament is fun, and a great way for people to get to know each other. They are popular with church and civic organizations, schools and neighborhood groups. As you plan your tournament, there are several things to consider.


Are you planning this as a social event, or will it benefit a worthy cause? You should have a clear-cut purpose before you begin planning, as your intent will drive all other aspects, including advertising, admission, and prizes.


Depending on the purpose, this may be a notice in the church bulletin, a blurb on a website, a newspaper ad or fliers distributed throughout the neighborhood. Try to reach the greatest number of people at the lowest cost in money and time.


You will need space for tables. Take the total number of people you expect and divide it by four. That is the number of tables you will need, each with four chairs. The venue will need to accommodate at least this number of tables. It is a good idea to have some extra tables ready in case additional players show up. It is better to err on the side of having too many than too few. Take the rent and operating costs of the venue (if any) into account when you plan the number of players and the entry fee you will charge.


Events cost money, and Bunco prizes are generally monetary. So, unless you want to foot the bill entirely, you should charge a reasonable entry fee. This should be based on the number of players you expect and the costs of putting the event together.


In theory, the prizes could be anything, and you should make them appropriate to the amount you are charging for admission. In fact, it is a good idea to figure out how players can win silly prizes while they play. By way of example, according to the World Bunco Association, the prizes for a typical twelve player Bunco party with a $5 admission price are as follows:

  • $20 Prize = The Most Buncos
  • $15 Prize = The Most Wins
  • $10 Prize = Traveling (The player who rolled the last Bunco and is holding the fuzzy die at the end).
  • $8 Prize = 50/50 (The player with equal wins and losses).
  • $5 Prize = The Most Losses
  • $2 Prize = The "At Least I'm Taking Something Home" Prize (The remaining score sheets are used to draw for this prize from the remaining players).


It is traditional to serve dessert and drinks at half-time, the break between the second and third sets. In some cases, it is appropriate to offer something to eat just before the game begins. This can be simple snacks or hors d'oeuvres, or it can be a full meal as the occasion demands.

Get Together and Have Fun

When you learn how to plan a Bunco tournament, you are ensuring a good time for players of all ages. As it gains in popularity, Bunco is sure to take its place among the country's most loved board games. Bunco is easy to learn, fun to play for people young and old alike, and it is a great fundraising tool. Consider it for your next event!

How to Plan a Bunco Tournament