The only thing I remember about Bingo from the States is that it was generally associated with an older crowd, and one night when my family was staying at a condo, the condo hosted a Bingo night and I won the blackout round. I must have been around 10 years old and I was super excited. Bingo in Samoa is a whole different ballgame.
Bingo is pretty much the only form of gambling allowed in Samoa, but I don’t really consider it gambling because I never go in with the intent of winning. I go in planning to pay for my Bingo sheets and flail around trying to keep up with the numbers while my support crew keeps track of what’s really going on. The standard night of Bingo lasts around two and a half or three hours, and usually ends just past midnight – well after my normal curfew. It starts with a round of specials, then you have three regular games, then a round of specials, then three regular games, another round of specials, three more regular games, the jackpot round, and the last regular game. A regular game of Bingo includes the entire Bingo sheet, which has 18 Bingo boards on it. Yes, in one regular game you are keeping track of 18 separate squares. You can understand why I always go with a support crew. Specials are when they cut the full size sheet into smaller squares or strips of paper that have 2, 3, or 4 games on each of them. They cost extra, but if you win, you get more money in your winnings. They usually accept 5 or 6 Bingos before calling it done and moving on to the next game, so there is plenty opportunity to win money – if gambling is your thing.
As I have said before, I recognize that my Bingo skills are fairly limited. I require a support crew because I’m not always fast enough (meaning, never) to catch every single number in every single square. I also suffer mild dyslexia and get my numbers mixed up a lot. It doesn’t help that 5 is lima, and 9 is iva, and when they are calling the numbers, those two sound basically the same. So then I also have to remember which numbers have been correctly and incorrectly marked. Bingo is played with a fagu bingo – a bingo stamp – so you basically wave your arm over the board and make a mark whenever you see the number that has been called. Or, if you’re me, you mark the number that hasn’t been called. I also require a support crew because I never know what I’m looking for. If I’m lucky enough to be able to keep track of the numbers, I can never remember if I’m looking for three hard lines (no free space), a kite (a diagonal with a box in one corner), or blocks of 4, 6, and 9. And I can never look at my whole board to see if I’ve achieved the formations necessary for a bingo or not. I was super lucky one night. I was at Bingo with one of my teachers and she was watching my board for me. I got two Bingos (which she had pointed out to me) and on the third one, I actually saw the pattern myself! It was amazing.
I can usually get into a groove about two or three games into the night, but I lose my ability to concentrate by the 8th or 9th game. I don’t like to play specials because it throws off my groove. The boards are smaller and they call the numbers faster and I can’t quite get used to looking at the full 18 square sheet again after that. I played specials on the night I went to Bingo with my teacher, and my brain was completely fried by the end. So now I only use the specials as a little rest break, buy a bag of popcorn, and sit back and rest while mentally preparing for the next round. I’m pretty sure Samoan Bingo is the best thing since sliced bread.