Published by Jeremy. Last Updated on October 5, 2023.
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Every so often we find ourselves up for a rigorous night of bingo. Thankfully, Pittsburgh has a number of great bingo nights you may want to consider.
For this outing, we joined our good friend Marta on the Move for a night out at Castle Shannon's Volunteer Fire Department for their Tuesday bingo, and let's just say, this one was intense!
Castle Shannon VFD's Bingo Night is Wild
Bingo at Castle Shannon's volunteer fire department is serious business. Over approximately three hours, 25 games of bingo are played- plus special early-bird games, side games of chance outside of bingo, and more.
Each round pays out various amounts for a bingo (attendance minimums may change this), with 20 regular games paying out about $100 each and five special games (unique shapes like four corners, double bingo, etc.) paying out anywhere from $50 to over $1,000 for the end of the night coverall match- the latter paid out to about four separate winners during our visit.
This means that the prize payouts hit $4,000 on a fully attended night! With money like that at stake, this game becomes serious business.
Players buy in for packets of bingo cards that come in six, 12, 18, 24, or 30 card packs (with additional cards available in six-card increments). Fees vary from $12 for six, $20 for 12, and up as of our late 2023 visit at least, and with well over 100 attendees meant that there were likely well over 2,000 individual bingo cards at play during any given game.
We each bought six cards and had enough of a challenge managing them for how fast the play was here, and we can't imagine how focused some of the regulars had to be to field 30+ cards. Between the rapid calls of the numbers, many volunteer firefighters shouting out random words for side games we couldn't even focus on, and dealing with the hush over the crowd at the start of play before subsequent rustling as folks got close to a bingo, there really is a lot to consider for what should otherwise be a simple game of bingo!
- Pro tip – Watch the TVs spread throughout the hall. A camera live streams the next number before it is called, which most people use to get ahead of the game. That said, you can't call a bingo until your number is verbally called (even if the next one is visible), and you must have the current number called in your bingo to win. So if someone shouts bingo on B7 after it is verbally called and you see the next ball up will get you a bingo, well, you're out of luck!
We Didn't Win, But We Still Had Fun
Although we went with a group of ten, with an estimated 120 bingo cards between us for any given game, as bingo night here is just that popular it is no surprise that we didn't win at all. If my math of about 2,000 unique cards held out, we had just a 6% chance during any given game for someone at our table to hit- lower if the average buy-in is higher than my estimate (and it very well could be).
Still, three hours of entertainment for about $24 plus the cost of snacks (because of course we're eating cheap pizza and popcorn with bingo), and we had a pretty fun night out with our friends all the same.
But I have to admit that by the end of three hours, paying attention to hundreds of numbers being called out and daubing our cards well over 1,000 times, we reached a limit where letters and numbers no longer made rational sense. We, thankfully, did not dream of bingo that night, so the cheap entertainment cost ended up being a worthy one, especially when considering the profits went to the volunteer fire department, too.
So if you are in the mood for some intense bingo, gather a group of friends, take your lucky charms, and be prepared for the intensity that is Castle Shannon's VFD bingo on Tuesdays.
Castle Shannon Volunteer Fire Department hosts bingo on Tuesdays starting at 7pm at 3600 Library Road in Castle Shannon. For first-timers, we highly recommend reading the rules and game structure before attending as there really is a lot to take in here. Likewise, although it is published that games are on Tuesday, you may want to reconfirm that the game is taking place on any given week just to be safe as well!
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