While 2 letter words might be sufficient to provide a good starting point for a solid Scrabble game, rattling off bingos makes you a living room legend over the holidays. A bingo occurs when a Scrabble player uses all seven tiles at once. This can result in the formation of a 7-, 8-, 9- or even 10-letter word. In addition the normal points scored, the player receives a bingo bonus of 50-points. In Lexulous, a popular Facebook application that is similar to Scrabble, players have an 8-tile rack. Playing 7 letters results in a 40 point bonus and playing all 8 tiles results in a 50 point bonus.
The challenge with bingos is that they are often hard to play. Even if you have a 7-letter word on your rack, you might not be able to find a suitable place for it on the Scrabble board. I can personally attest that this is perhaps the most frustrating situation imaginable. A bingo could quite possible propel you to victory, except that Aunt Edna has blocked off the only possible place with the word CAT. Unfortunately, you can’t do much about the Scrabble board except to learn hooks and other techniques.
So how do you become better at finding and playing bingos? The first and most obvious answer is that you should learn the common bingos. This can be done with two approaches. The first is learning the most likely bingos that can be pulled from the bag of tiles. The easiest time is to play the bingo right on the first turn (if you have it). Not only is there no worry about tile placement, but you also get the double word score bonus. Note that the double and triple word score squares do not apply to the 50 point bingo bonus. So here is the first word you should learn: ANEROID, which means “not using liquid.” ANEROID is also the most likely bingo to be drawn out of the tile bag at the start of the game.
Note that number 9’s letter combinations actually produces two words. Number 12 is RATLINE which can product 5 possible words: RATLINE, TRENAIL, RETINAL, LATRINE and RELIANT. Afterwards comes another powerful word: RETAINS which can provide 9 words: ANESTRI, ANTSIER, NASTIER, RATINES, RETAINS, RETINAS, RETSINA, STAINER, and STEARIN.
Further down the list is another common set of words: SENATOR, TREASON (no political undertones here though), SANTERO, and ATONERS.
As mentioned before, RETAINS is a great set of letters since it provides so many possible bingos, hopefully one will fit. RETAINS is part of the TISANE stem. The word TISANE is quite important in Scrabble. Almost any letter added to TISANE will result in a bingo. The exceptions are J, Q, and Y. In fact, TISANE and a blank provides almost 70 possible bingos which are listed below:
Another great way to increase your bingo capacity is to look for these high probability combinations. A few good days of study and you can have them committed to memory pretty easily. So now how else can you look for bingos? If you have an S you can look for a 6 letter noun and then possibly use the plural. The S is also easy to use as a hook to make two words. Other endings that can be helpful are -ING as in CAMPING, RAFTING and -ER as in SMALLER. Another trick is to learn ANTI- words. ANTIDOTE, ANTIRED.
However, life is not fun without some interesting words. MUZJIKS is the highest scoring lead off bingo at 128 points. It is played by placing the Z on the double letter score box. However, the odds of drawing this bingo are extremely slim. It is like 1 in a billion, but if you are lucky enough to draw it, it is a great play.