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Things you only know if you’re a bingo caller

James FitzGerald

…according to Altex Gibson, 37.

Age is just a number

‘I used to think bingo was only for retired people, but at Mecca in Croydon, we’re getting younger and younger customers coming in on a Friday night. However old they are, everyone wants to win money and have a good night out. There are now bingo schools in other parts of London training new, young players in how to win at the game.’

Good calling is all about timing

‘As well as my Jamaican accent, which I don’t think anyone else has got in this job, people appreciate my skills as a showman. A caller’s got to know when to joke and when to not joke, and they have to keep players hooked by building a rhythm. Some numbers I read high, some numbers I read low. Some fast, some slow. It’s more musical than just shouting them out, you know?’

Bingo doesn’t have to be scary

‘Yes, it’s a game of luck, but bingo can still be intimidating for a new player. Some bingo halls are very big and competitive, or they use a lot of the old-school rhyming slang: “knock at the door?” That means four. My top tip for Londoners starting out is to take advantage of the electronic terminals you get in modern halls. They cross off your numbers so you don’t have to.’

A full house can be life-changing

‘Most people don’t know you can win some serious money playing bingo. I saw a woman get £200,000 here one night. Others take home 20 grand at a time. Let me tell you, it feels good when you’re the person who’s called out those winning numbers! You get a lot of kisses when it happens – and Croydon is a safe place for the ladies, so I’m always happy about that.’

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