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How to Play Tambola!

Tambola is played on a basic principle. The organizer/caller calls the Number/CUE one at a time and players need to strike Numbers on their tickets. Tambola (also called Houzee) can be played in many different ways depending on the competency level of the target audience.

American version of Tambola is called ‘Bingo’ and it is slightly different from Tambola.

Generally, Tambola is played with Numbers (1-90) being called out by 1 person/caller and players striking out those Numbers on their Tickets.

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Prepare to play Tambola

  • Sell Tambola Tickets at a fixed or mutually-agreed-upon price to everyone who wants to play.
  • With the ticket(s), hand out a pen/pencil/toothpick to the players to strike the called Numbers/CUEs in their tickets.
  • Decide the cash-prizes for the decided winning points. Winning points can be like:
    • Early 5: the ticket with first five struck numbers
    • First Row/Top Row: the ticket with all numbers struck in a top row first
    • Second Row/Middle Row: the ticket with all numbers struck in a middle row first
    • Third Row/Bottom Row: the ticket with all numbers struck in a bottom row first
    • Corners: the ticket with all 4 corner numbers struck first (1st and last numbers of top and bottom rows)
    • Corner with Star: the ticket with all 4 corner & centre-most numbers struck first (1st and last numbers of top and bottom rows along with a centre-most number of the middle row)
    • Full House/First House: the ticket with all its numbers struck first
    • Second House: the ticket with all its numbers struck second
      and so on…

For a new Tambola game variant, take a look at Play Tambola with Playing Cards

Facts to know about Tambola

Almost all of us are aware that how interesting is Tambola Game but let us make you aware of some interesting facts about Tambola also.

While playing Tambola have you ever wondered why there are 6 tickets on a page/pad in Hard Copies of Tambola?

  • As we know by now that there are 90 numbers in Tambola Game and each ticket has 15 numbers. So, 6 tickets has 15*6 = 90 numbers. In all these 6 tickets, each number from 1-90 occurs once only so covering all 90 numbers. Therefore, when a CUE is called, it will be present in one and only one ticket from the set of 6 tickets.
  • There are 3 rows and 9 columns in every Tambola Ticket
  • There are a total of 90 (1-90) numbers in Tambola
  • There are 3 rows and 9 columns in every Tambola Ticket
  • Every ticket has exactly 15 numbers
  • Every row contains 5 numbers
  • A column may have 1, 2 or 3 numbers. There should be at least 1 number in every column
  • A Ticket cannot have the same number more than once
  • Column 1 on any ticket has numbers between 1-9
  • Column 2 on any ticket has numbers between 10-19
  • Column 3 on any ticket has numbers between 20-29
  • Column 4 on any ticket has numbers between 30-39
  • Column 5 on any ticket has numbers between 40-49
  • Column 6 on any ticket has numbers between 50-59
  • Column 7 on any ticket has numbers between 60-69
  • Column 8 on any ticket has numbers between 70-79
  • Column 9 on any ticket has numbers between 80-90

Start Playing Tambola

  • The CALLER needs to pick a Number/CUE without seeing the box/container containing CUEs. The caller generally shakes the box/container containing CUEs before calling the next CUE.
  • If a number called by CALLER exists on a player’s ticket, then the player has to strike it.
  • Once a particular Winning point is achieved by a player, he has to claim for it immediately.
  • CALLER has to verify the winning by matching the struck numbers on the ticket with the called out numbers. CALLER then declares if the winning has been successfully claimed. If not, the winning point is still available to be claimed.
  • The game ends when all the FULL HOUSEs are successfully CLAIMED.

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Award the winners at the end of Tambola

The pre-declared cash prizes are awarded to the respective winners from the amount collected by the sale of the tickets. If it is an “on-the-house” game, let the host award the winners with prizes.

The easiest way to gift and avoid handling cash is to get winners’ email-ids and gift them an e-gift voucher for Amazon instantly.

Some popular phrases to use while calling out Numbers

1 – First on the board, no. 1; lone ranger no. 1; Buttered scone; Top of the house no. 1
2 – Kaala dhan (number “do”); one little duck no. 2
3 – Happy family; goodness me no. 3
4 – Hum doh humare “do”; 2+2=4; Murgi chor
5 – Punjab mail no. 5, Come for a drive at no. 5
6 – Bottom heavy, In a fix no. 6; supper sixer
7 – Lucky no. seven, Colours of the rainbow, days in a week; saat sur
8 – Big fat lady/major no. 8
9 – Doctor’s time no. 9
10 – A big fat hen no. 10; uncle Ben
11 – Beautiful legs; sexy legs
12 – One dozen
13 – Unlucky for some no. 13, Baker’s Dozen no. 13
14 – Valentine’s Day; Tender chick, age is 14
15 – Yet to be kissed, age is 15
16 – Never been kissed, Sweet sixteen
17 – Not so sweet, often been kissed, Dancing Queen
18 – Now you can vote, marriageable age no. 18
19 – Goodbye teens at no. 19

20_  Blind 20; one score
21 – Watch your son at 21, Women’s age never crosses 21; President’s salute
22 – Two little ducks; All twos no. 22
23 – You and me is 23
24 – Two dozen
25 – Wish to have a wife at 25, Silver Jubilee (25)
26 – Republic Day
27 – Gateway to heaven no. 27
28 – Not so late at 28; Duck and its mate
29 – In your prime, Gin and lime 29
30 – Women get flirty at 30; Flirty thirty
31 – Flavours at Baskin Robins
32 – 32, Mouth’s Full
33 – Lovely lips, All the 3s, Knocking knees 33
34 – Dil mange more at 34
35 – Flirty wife 35
36 – Perfect vital stats 36, standard size 36, three dozen
37 – Mixed luck
38 – Oversize
39 – Watch your waistline
40 – Naughty 40
41 – Life begins at 41
43 – Down on your knees 43
44 – Chor & chor, All the fours
45 – Halfway there
46 – Up to tricks at 46
47 – Year of Independence
49 – Rise and shine at 49
50 – Half a century, Golden Jubilee (50)
51 – Charity begins at 51
52 – Weeks in a year; Pack of cards
53 – Pack with a joker
54 – Time for more
55 – Nagging wife, All the fives
56 – Pick up sticks
60 – Diamond Jubilee (60)
66 – Clickety Click
69 – Ulta Pulta, Any way round
72 – Lucky couple, lucky two
74 – Lucky chor 74
77 – Hum “saat” “saat” (Hindi) hain, luck-a-luck, double hockey sticks, two little crutches
78 – Lucky “seth” (Hindi) 78
79 – One more time, lucky nine
82 – Last of the two 82; Fat lady with a duck
83 – India won Cricket World Cup
84 – Last of the chors
87 – Last of luck, fat lady with a crutch
88 – Two fat ladies
89 – Nearly there; All but one
90 – Top of the house, no. 90!

Play Tambola Online Through Whatsapp

While we all are stuck in our homes due to the pandemic we can still come together with our friends and family members through online games. Due to the lockdown, we cannot come together and play games but still can connect through online games such as playing Tambola through Whatsapp.

Below are the rules for the game that everyone should reflect for the smooth functioning of the game:

  1. Ask the players to not spam on the WhatsApp group for unending fun.
  2. To claim any prize, please type STOP and mention the claim. Send the photo of the ticket along with the ticket number.
  3. As there will be many players who will be claiming the prize for each variation. So, divide the prize amount equally amongst the first three players who came first to claim the variation.
  4. Everyone should be alert enough to claim their prize before the next number is called out if they hesitate and the next number is called the prize will be considered as a bogey.
  5. Be sure to follow the rules and decision of the organiser as final.

Directions to Organise the game:

  1. You can create and call out random numbers for the game using the tambola board. ( It is better to use a mobile app to play tambola as now many are available for free).
  2. You can ask all your friends to create a ticket by drawing or can get a printout.
  3. Be sure to describe each and every rule carefully to all the layers, so there is no confusion amongst the players.
  4. While claiming the prize ask all the winners to share their tickets.
  5. Once the winner has claimed the prize, share a screenshot on the Whatsapp group so there is no confusion among the players.

Hope you’ve found this article useful. From your experience, if you can add to it in some way please do so via your comments below. You’ll help us delight the readers who visit after you. Thanks 🙂

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About Sophia

a believer in work hard, party harder! :)


  1. Happy to see some quirky ones there. But there’s still a few left out. Do you have them with you to complete the list? Also, do you have some more quirkier ones in hindI?

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