Bunco brings new neighbors together
By Hollen Wheeler; photo courtesy of Dana Jevarjian
A group of ladies came together for the first time to play bunco and enjoy some fellowship with new neighbors. Spearheaded by Merica Sloan, Tricia Metcalf and Dana Jevarjian, 23 ladies met to play the popular dice game at The Exchange Coffee House.
“Since our [Canyons] community pool is not open yet,” said Sloan, “it’s been more challenging meeting other neighbors in this big development. We thought it would be a great opportunity to bring folks together.”
A parlor game of chance, bunco is usually played with 12 or more people, divided into tables of four. Each player takes turns rolling three dice with the goal to score points in a series of six rounds. Rolling matching numbers is the way to score points. A bunco win (worth 21 points) is achieved when a person rolls three-of-a-kind. Hosts usually provide small gifts for the winners.
The history of bunco dates back to 19th century England. It was originally a “confidence game,” a ruse to trick a naive participant out of money. The game made its way to San Francisco in the mid-1800s as a gambling activity at bunco parlors during the Gold Rush. Its popularity has ebbed and flowed throughout the decades, making a big comeback in speakeasies during the Prohibition years. Police teams, especially in Chicago, became known as “bunco squads” when performing raids. In 2006, the Oxygen television network hosted a Bunco World Championship and many speculate that this led to a resurgence of the game in this century.
Bunco is easy to learn and can be played at almost any age, lending itself to a jovial and social setting for large groups. Many bunco parties gather just for fun, and some chip in a dollar amount per player and designate a philanthropic recipient or donate to a cause, especially during the holidays.
According to Sloan, their initial event was a success, prizes were provided, and community connections were made. “We met lots of new friends that we may not have met otherwise from many of the other developments in the area,” she stated.