How might an owner pack the house every Thursday night, off-season and on, rain or shine? How could that owner keep people coming back for a good time week after week? xTreme Bar Bingo, of course!

How might an owner pack the house every Thursday night, off-season and on, rain or shine? How could that owner keep people coming back for a good time week after week? xTreme Bar Bingo, of course!

Marty Byrde’s Bar and Grill on the Bagnell Dam Strip recruited Pat Collins and Kathleen Marco to run weekly games of xTreme Bar Bingo. It is, as Collins says, “not your grandma’s bingo.” 

Tables seating two to eight in the bar and dining area quickly fill. Arriving well ahead of 7 p.m. is essential. Even on a night in May when graduation ceremonies were taking place and bike night was center-stage along the Strip, there were very few seats remaining.

Collins says Marty Bryde’s is her “happy place,” and she shares that joy with long-time friend and outstanding musician, Kathleen Marco. Both women utalize their meet-and-greet talents weekly with strangers who quickly become friends. Collins calls many of them by name as they find tables, and throughout the night as they stand, only one number away from claiming a prize. All cheer and applaud when one of them gets that lucky matching number and cries, “Bingo!” At the end of the evening, winners join arms with Pat and Kathleen to sing, “We Are the Champions!” by Queen.

By day, Pat Collins makes toes pretty at Bella Donna Salon in The Landing on Osage Beach Parkway. She counts down the days until Thursday when she can call numbers and gin up fun for bingo players at Marty Byrde’s.

Kathleen Marco also has a day job —  or rather, many. She’s a classical pianist and vocalist, and a choir director at the Harper Chapel and Lake Ozark Christian churches. She has a private music studio with 35 piano and 65 vocal students. She performs at Shawnee Bluff, the Osage Beach Senior Center, Elks lodges, and at private events. She’s one busy woman who knows what makes people get on their feet to dance and which tunes will make people sing along. She keeps Marty Byrde’s rocking on Thursdays. 

xTreme Bar Bingo is a nine-game series with two intermissions, giving fans of Marty Byrde’s plenty of time to re-up and order off the menu in between games. Every bingo game card is free, yet each one tempts with great, big prizes. In recent weeks, several people have won 50-inch TVs. One night a man claimed an Amazon Fire Stick.

Most grand prizes require a player to win in a specified number of digital “balls,” but if no one shouts “Bingo” after 5-9 balls have been drawn electrically, the game continues until someone wins. Then the prize may be a T-shirt, a water bottle, or a $10 gift certificate to Marty Byrde’s or Michael’s Steak Chalet —  less valuable than a $200 TV or the grand-prize pot that can reach into thousands of dollars — but winners still claim bragging rights and have something to show for it. 

The first three games also end in a drawing of all bingo cards with players’ names voluntarily written on the back. The lucky name matching that handwritten one wins something, and in the interest of full disclosure, this writer was asked to draw the card, turned her head away, reached to the bottom of the bucket, and withdrew one card folded in quarters, name invisible. As luck would have it, this writer drew her own name and carried home a Chop Champ. So even if the numbers don’t match the cards given, players can still be winners. That’s a great deal! And to think, a chance to win costs nothing.

While Hollywood portraits of bingo parlors conjure images of smoke-filled rooms, seniors pushing walkers, and small groups ignoring other small groups, xTreme Bar Bingo taking place at Marty Byrde’s every Thursday at 7 p.m. is nothing like that. It is alive with fun, laughter, and good feelings. 

Collins recommends getting there early to get a seat. She’s right! Go early and play for free. You’ll leave with a prize — if only a memory of great times.

About Bar Bingo

Todd Korves, president of Xtreme Bar Bingo, says more than $75,000 in cash and prizes have been given out since February 2018. There are more than 80 bars throughout Missouri and Illinois, four at Lake of the Ozarks, that play each week. 

Korves works for the family business, a party, bingo and carnival supply store called Tribout Distributors in Belleville, Ill. Along with his uncle Denny Tribout, they came up with the idea of Xtreme Bar Bingo and started implementing it at locations all over. The cash jackpot starts out at $2,000 but has gone up as much as $6,000. 

There is always no cost to play but they encourage you to support the local establishments. Like them on Facebook at XtremeBarBingo or online at www.xtremebarbingo.com to find other locations.