Cow-A-Bunco Rules & Guidelines

Click here for PDF copy of the Rules & Guidelines

Below you will find the basic rules for Bunco, along with several variations. There are likely as many different rules as there are Bunco groups. As you read through the rules, choose the ones that are best for your group and sound like the most fun!


12 players (more or less in multiples of 4)

3 tables, 1 table per four people. The tables are designated at “Head Table,” “Table One,” and “Table Three.”

9 dice (three dice per table)

12 Cow-A-Bunco Score Sheets (one per person)

3 Cow-A-Bunco Tally Sheets (one per table)

12 pencils (one per person)

1 Cow Bell-placed at Head Table

1 Traveling Cow

Traveler Prize (for the person holding the squeezable cow at the end of the game)

Cow-A-Bunco Bag (to store your Bunco supplies)

Prizes or Cash Prizes (as decided by the hostess)

Food & Beverages (as decided by the hostess)

Setup Directions:

Each table should have 1 Cow-A-Bunco Tally Sheet, 4 Cow-A-Bunco Score Cards, 4 pencils and 3 dice. The head table should include all of those items PLUS the cowbell and the Traveling Cow. You can add table snacks if desired.

Basic Play & Scorekeeping:

Bunco is played by rolling dice, keeping score and moving from table-to-table. There are six rounds per set of play. Each set is made up of a round of 1-6.

The bell is located at the Head Table (determined by the hostess). When everyone is ready to play, the bell is rung to signal the beginning of the round. All tables roll at the same time. You are always partners with the person sitting kitty-corner across from you. For example, Player 1 and Player 3 are partners and Player 2 and Player 4 are partners. There are two teams per table.

Play is accomplished by rolling three dice at a time. During Round One, the goal is to roll as many Ones as you can, then during Round Two, to roll as many twos as you can, etc., ending with as many sixes as you can roll in Round Six.


One person is assigned as Scorekeeper at each table. On the Tally Sheet, the scorekeeper and her Teammate are “Us” and the other team is “Them.” Each time a player rolls the correct number for the round, they receive one point. When a player stops rolling the number designated by the round, the dice go clockwise to the next player.

Bunco: A BUNCO is when any player rolls all three dice in the number of that round (for example three ones in Round One, etc.) Each time a player rolls BUNCO, they call out “Bunco,” and they receive the Traveling Cow until someone else calls out “Bunco.” A player who rolls BUNCO marks it on their scorecard (as a Bunco) and their team receives 21 points. Each player must keep track of their own BUNCOS. The person holding the Traveling Cow at the end of the game wins the Travelers prize.

Baby Bunco: Each time a player rolls three of a number that’s not designated by the round, they receive 5 points. A “BABY BUNCO” does not qualify to receive the Traveling Cow.

End of Round: The first team at the head table to reach 21 points wins the round and the cowbell is rung to signal the end of the round for ALL TABLES. The other two tables might have scores higher than 21. The winning teams at each table place a “W” on their scorecards and the losing teams place an “L” on their scorecards (next to the appropriate round). BUNCO is played by individuals, not teams, so partners change after each round. The winning team moves to a new table, rotating in one direction. For example, the Head Table winners move to Table 2, Table 2 winners move to Table 3, and Table 3 winners move to the Head Table. The losing team stays at their original table. One player on the losing team switches to a new seat to team up with a new player arriving at the table.

Ghost: A ghost is used if an individual cannot find a substitute player. (It’s up to each player to find a substitute if they are unable to attend BUNCO). The player with the ghost for the partner rolls for the ghost. The ghost only collects points, NOT BUNCOS. The ghost does not have a scorecard.


There is a ton of flexibility with prizes. Our preference is to allow each hostess to decide whether they prefer to give themed gifts, regular gifts, gift cards or cash.

Suggested Prize Categories & Values:

Most Wins: prize or cash valued at $30

Most Buncos: Prize or cash valued at $15

Traveling Cow: Prize or cash valued at $10

Biggest Loser: Prize or cash valued at $5