Bunco regaining popularity with seniors
JANESVILLE At the ding of the bell, the dice began to roll.
"We're going for ones, but if you get three of a kind, you get five points. Only one person keeps score at the table," Bunco Club organizer and instructor Joyce Florin explained to newcomer Shirley Collins at her table in the Community Room of the Janesville Senior Center.
As the three dice rotated among the four players, Florin between tosses struck up a conversation with her partner across the table.
"So, have you had a good month since I saw you last?"
Florin said bunco is a dice game started by a gambler. It's been around since the 1850s but has been revived and has grown into an area fad.
Florin's older sister taught her how to play bunco when they were young, she said.
Florin, an Edgerton resident, formed Bunco Buddies in 2003. Members played the game in their homes, but Florin has introduced the game at the Milton, Janesville and Whitewater senior centers.
Janesville had its first get-acquainted session in July. Twelve women showed up to learn the game, and the Janesville Senior Center now is hosting the Bunco Club once a month.
The club's 12 members and 10 substitute players play monthly at The Gathering Place in Milton.
Lucy Willegal of Janesville was at the Janesville Senior Center on Wednesday to learn about the game. She'd heard about many years ago but never learned played.
"It's a fast game and keeps you on your toes," she said.
Joan Pastula, Janesville, agreed: "It's fast moving and keeps you moving, so you don' get "sitinitis,'" she said.
Charlene Brandsey, Janesville, also a member of Bunco Buddies, was a fill-in player Wednesday and helped Florin with game instruction.
"You can have fun and visit. It's definitely not a high-concentration game," she said.
And that's the appeal of the game, Florin said.
"It's not bridge. It's not pinochle," she said.
People of any age can play, she said.
"The main thing is socializing. It's changing tables and changing partners each round so you're talking to everyone, and that's the fun part of the game when it gets going because it's so simple."
Bunco commonly is played by 12 people at three tables (high table, middle table and low table) for six rounds. The number of the round serves as the target for that round's dice rolls.
Within a round, players take turns rolling three dice, aiming to obtain the target number. Players gain one point for each die matching the target. If the player gets three of a kind of the target number (a bunco), they get 21 points.
The round stops when a player at a head table obtains 21 points. Whoever wins the most rounds is the overall winner.