So, I was at Bunco on Sunday, my once-a-month dose of social activity and one of my favorite days of the month because I get to spend time with my mom, mom-in-law and the best bunco bunch around. There’s lots of laughter, dice rolling, and quite a bit of teasing the local rooomance writer and much-appreciated prodding about the new series I’m working on. The question came up of whether I’d have bunco in the new series and that got us to talking about how long bunco has been around. Some gals remember their mom’s moms’ being bunco players. Of course, I had to do some digging—was there bunco in the old west?
Indeed, Bunco was played in the old west! In fact, the dice game was introduced in the United States during the Gold Rush! Seems a shady fellow making his way from the east to west coast in 1855 brought a dice game from England he called “Banco” into gambling parlors as he made his way to California gold fields. The game originating in England was called 8-dice cloth, though our English traveler, also known as a crooked gambler, had made several changes to the game. As its popularity spread across San Francisco, Banco became known as Bunco. According to the World Bunco Association (that was news to me too!), bunco was also played by groups of women, school children and couples throughout the 1800’s.
The game was repopularized in the 1920’s during Prohibition, Bunco often being associated with those notorious speakeasies–so much so that the law enforcement squads sent to raid these clubs became known as “Bunco Squads”. This movie poster on the right is from a 1950’s film.
Quite the rip-roaring start for what I always thought of as a rather innocuous ladies game–though I will admit we might tend to spike the punch 😉
These days bunco isn’t limited to living-rooms and club rooms, there are Bunco Cruises! There’s even a bunco app for iPhones. I think I’ll be sticking with my monthly gathering of friends.
How about the rest of y’all? Ever been part of a bunco bunch? Any bunco cruises in your past or future?