My turn to host bunco came and went, and all I have to show for it is a clean house and a refrigerator and freezer full of leftover Greek food. I'm reveling in the clean house because the housekeeping goes to hell when I have a project, and I've had one project or another going for so long that the housekeeping was pretty bad. Which is why I started getting ready for this party last Friday, even though said party wasn't until Tuesday night.
So bunco, if you don't know, is a game of chance played with dice. A bunco party is essentially a hen party with dice, which is probably why it's fun. You start with twelve players at three tables; one of the tables is the head table (table one). The idea is to get to twenty-one points, and that has to occur at the head table to get to the end of the round. You play four sets of six rounds; on the first round you're rolling for ones, on the second round you're rolling for twos, etc., until you roll for sixes after which you start the next set of rounds. You roll three dice and count how many show the number that you're on, so if you're rolling for fours, for instance, and one of the dice shows one side with four up, and the other dice show other sides, that counts as one point and you roll again. You keep rolling until you don't roll with the target number showing (in our example, a four). Once you roll nothing up, play passes to the player on your left. Unless you are at the head table, once you hit twenty-one you keep playing. Only the head table counts the end of the round when they hit twenty-one. As I mentioned before, each side of the die that lands up counts as one point for the number of the round that you're rolling. If you roll all three numbers the same, that's a junco, and that counts as five points; if all three numbers are the same and they're the number for which you're rolling, that's a bunco and it's automatically twenty-one points. If this occurs at the head table, it's the end of that round; if it occurs at one of the other two tables, the players keep playing. When a player rolls a bunco (three of a kind of the number for which you're rolling on the current round) they get to hold the traveling token (in our case, a small doll called the bunco baby); the traveling token is taken from them by the next person who rolls a bunco. You want to be holding the traveling token at the end of the evening (but or heavens sake, don't fight over it!).
Players play as a team in pairs, with your team mate playing opposite. The team that has the most points at the end of a round advances to the next table; the opposite holds for the head table- the team that loses at the head table moves to table three. At all three tables, one of the remaining players moves to a chair adjacent to their team mate, so that when the next pair of people arrive at the table, each of the remaining players now has a new partner.
Why do all this? Well besides the fact that it's fun, different groups play for different things. Some groups play for money, and some groups play for prizes. My group plays for prizes. Playing costs each player five bucks, so there are sixty dollars with which the hostess buys the prizes (for the next party), with each prize being worth a different amount. Everyone tallies up how many wins they had and how many losses. The number of buncos are counted, and the number of juncos are counted. The person with the most wins wins first place; that's worth twenty-two dollars. The person with the next highest number of wins wins second place; that's worth fifteen dollars. The person with the most buncos wins most buncos; that's worth ten dollars. The person holding the traveling token wins traveling; that's worth eight dollars. The person with the most losses wins booby; that's worth five dollars. To play for most juncos, you have to kick in an extra dollar to be eligible in a separate pool. Whoever has the most juncos wins the extra cash, and it varies by how many are playing for it.
So that's bunco.
The party always starts with getting a plate full of food, and then play starts once everyone's settled down at a table. I served chicken souvlaki (chicken marinated with lemon, oregano and garlic, then grilled), my Greek pie (which is something I made based on a great Greek pie I used to get at the Zodiac Cafe in downtown Jacksonville, Florida, that involves spinach, onions, feta, parsley and zatar) with tzatziki sauce, and a Greek salad. Dessert was lemon pie and expensive baklava from the local mediterranean restaurant.
Here's the lemon pie recipe:
Hot Lemon Pie
1 large lemon
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 large eggs
1 stick of butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 9" unbaked pie shell
Preheat the oven to 350F.
Cut up lemon and remove only the seeds.
Put the lemon pieces (rind included) and all the rest of the ingredients (except the pie shell) in the blender and whirl until foamy. Keep whirling until the mixture is smooth with no lumps of butter.
Pour into unbaked pie shell and bake 40 minutes. Serve warm. It's good cold too. Refrigerate any leftovers.
Everybody had a good time, and I had a good time hosting.
I'm just really glad I don't have to do it again for another year.