fun & games: Bunco girls gather for good times

Good friends. Good laughs. Good times. Bunco.

It’s printed on their black T-shirts with hot pink lettering.

But it’s more than just a catchy saying.

After 10 years, the expression rings true for this group of local women. Good friends gathering for a good time with a lot of good laughs playing a game called Bunco.

Playing together

Dice roll across wooden tabletops and echo throughout the room. The occasional bell rings. There’s talking. And laughter. Loads of laughter.

A group of local women began playing Bunco a little over 10 years ago. They live in several Nodaway County communities and include Julie Acklin, Rita Carroll, Keitha Clapp, Amy Derr, Nichole Dew, Pat Giesken, Melissa Grace, Diana Heitman, Shannon Heitman, Deb Henggeler, Becky Jones, Patty Neal, Marsha Price, Liz Schieber, Lori Snead and Barb Walk.

The idea for the Bunco group started with Price, who had a friend in college who played the game. She thought it would be fun to start a group here.

“Several years later, we finally had enough friends to play,” she said.

With most of the original members still, they get together the second Friday of each month and rotate hostesses and homes.

Outside of Bunco, some of the women work together, some play sports together and some of their children are friends, too.

The game’s history

According to the World Bunco Association, the game was originally called 8-Dice Cloth in the 1700s in England. It first came to the US in 1855 by a crooked gambler in San Francisco who called it Banco. A few years later, the name was changed to Bunco or Bunko.

From the 1880s until the 1920s, the game changed from one of gambling and swindling to a traditional family or parlor game with Bunco groups consisting of 8-12 people and even up to 20 who enjoyed an evening of fun, friendly competition and conversation. During the roaring ‘20s, Bunco gambling parlors became popular once again, but after prohibition, interest in the game declined.

Bunco made a resurgence in the 1980s and its following has increased steadily ever since.

Traditionally, most Bunco gatherings include 12 players with three tables of four players each. The game is one of luck, not skill, and is played with three dice. The object is to accumulate points by rolling certain combinations.

Creating memories

Cheers erupt from the girls who have gathered on June 8 at Grace’s home in Burlington Jct. “Bunco!” Clapping, high fives and more laughing.

In the last 10 years of playing, group members have created a lot of memories through their laughing and socializing.

The most unforgettable one came when they were playing at Jones’ house once and her neighbor’s home caught on fire. They donated the winnings that night to the victims of the fire.

In addition to the memories, they’ve also gotten to know each other better.

“When we get together, we tend to sometimes talk more than we play,” Melissa Grace said.

For most – if not all – the conversation takes precedence over the game, asking questions about one another’s families, children, jobs and lives.

“I come just to see these people,” Jones said. “Because I’m not very good at the game.”

And, of course, more laughter ensued.

For more information on Bunco, visit

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: