Two friends with a love for the game of Bunco create the first and only scorekeeping app for the popular game


Lindsay Forlines and Catherine Shaw

Ever tried to keep score during a fast-moving game of Bunco? Well, now there’s an app for that.

“Buncolator” creators Catherine Shaw (AB ’03) and Lindsay Forlines (ABJ ’03, JD ’08) got the idea for the app after participating in a group that met once a month to play the dice game.

“Keeping score kind of stunk,” Forlines says.

Their first idea for a Bunco scorekeeping device was similar to a stopwatch, which they pictured as pink. But after talking to a friend’s dad, they realized it would cost $20,000 to $30,000 to make the device. (In comparison, the Complete Box of Bunco, by Winning Moves, costs less than $15 on Amazon.)

“We liked the idea but not the costs,” Forlines says. “We decided on a different route: an app.”

Shaw contacted a friend of hers from high school who is in the app creation business. The development cost was $5,000. It’s now available from the iTunes app store for 99 cents.

Bunco, which began in England in the 18th century, came to the U.S. in 1855 as a gambling parlor game. It requires three tables of four people each, two to a team. Players take turns rolling three dice, in the first round trying to roll all ones, in the second round all twos and so on until they have completed round six. Teams score points based on how many times in a round they roll the select number, with a round ending once a team has reached 21 points.

“Bunco is a simple game to socialize with, but it’s hard to socialize when you’re having to keep score,” says Shaw.

The simple app has a blue side and pink side for the different teams. Team names include Bettys versus the Veronicas and the Marilyns versus the Jackies. The app keeps score throughout the game and has an “oops” button for any mistakes made. When a team reaches 21 points and wins the game, the app shouts “Bunco!”

There are other Bunco apps, Shaw says, but those don’t keep score. “They just play the game on the app. There was nothing out there to help alleviate the stress of scorekeeping.”

“What is unique about our story is that people have ideas like this all the time, but they don’t go for it,” Forlines says. “We’re two friends who got together and decided to go through with it even though it was not in our field.”