Keno is one of those games that you’ll find in every casino and in a variety of forms. It offers the player the highest payouts for the lowest amount wagered of any game around. It’s no coincidence that it also has the highest house edge of any game around. Does this mean that you should never play Keno? Hell no! Keno has its place in your overall gaming strategy. Maybe you’ve had an off night and you’re down to your last few dollars.
What better way to stay in the game with a small risk with an incredible upside if you get very lucky. On the other hand, it could be one of those days where everything you touch turns to gold, so why not parlay some of that luck into a shot at the Big Times. Then again, maybe your partners in crime are hot and heavy into the action, but you need a little break, so a few nickels in the Keno machine will help pass the time and potentially generate some windfall profits.
For whatever reason you decide to play Keno, rule #1 is to have fun! If it’s not fun then why bother.
Now that that is out of the way, let’s talk about your Keno choices and how you can be smarter than the average Joe about how you play the game.
The first thing to know is that the rules for Keno are the same from casino to casino and platform to platform.
You have a field of 80 numbers to choose from and the game is complete when 20 balls are drawn from the pool.
The player has a choice of how much to wager and how many numbers to select, typically between 1 and 20. The more you bet, the more you stand to win. The more numbers you select, the more you stand to win if they hit.
The more numbers you select, the more numbers that need to hit in order for you to win. There it is, that’s the game in a nutshell.
What is different from casino to casino and platform to platform is THE PAYTABLE. Here’s where a little bit of due diligence can make the difference between playing for 5 minutes or playing for an hour. It can also make the difference in THOUSANDS of $$$ for the top prizes.
Up above is a Multi-Card Keno video slot machine. The paytable shown is per-card played so, YES we are comparing apples-to-apples with any other Keno game or platform. This particular machine is a 25 cent denomination which allows the player to wager a maximum of 4 coins on any game.
Above is a Live Dealer Keno payout schedule from the same casino as the Video Keno machine shown above. As a matter of fact, the Video Keno machine is less than 100 feet from where the live Keno is played.
Let’s look at the tips and make some observations:
• The 1st thing to know is that the difference in these pay tables has nothing to do with the fact that one is Video Keno and the other is Live Keno…the pay tables could potentially be flip-flopped in another casino. The only practical difference between the two platforms is that it takes human beings to run the live game and they have to be paid wages, so in general the live game will carry a higher house percentage (or another way to say it is a lower overall payout).
• Live Keno moves a lot slower than Video Keno. I would venture to say that a typical player could run through 30 to 50 Video Keno games in the time that it takes to complete just one live dealer game (check more: https://livecasinoguru.com/live-games.html). If you’re playing Keno as a time killer, then Live Keno is the way to go.
• All Keno games, regardless of the casino or the platform, have a TOP PRIZE. In the example “A”, the top prize is 40,000 coins ($10,000) which can be obtained by playing the maximum credits (four) and hitting 8 of 8, 9 of 9, or 10 of 10 numbers selected. In the example “B”, the top prize is $50,000 which can be obtained by betting $5 and hitting 8 of 8, 9 of 9, or 10 of 10 numbers selected. In this particular example, it can also be achieved with a $3 bet and hitting 9 of 9 numbers. Let’s look at what’s happening here. Example “B” gives us the best illustration.
• Look at the difference between betting $1, $3, and $5 on each of the options. In every case, the payout for a $3 bet is exactly 3 times the payout of a $1 bet, and the payout for a $5 bet is exactly 5 times that of a $1 bet, so there is no house advantage of one over the other. This all changes when you get up to the top prize. Look at the 8-spot bet. If you bet $1 and hit 8 of 8 you get $15,000. If you bet $3 you get $45,000. But if you bet $5 you’ve hit the TOP PRIZE and get $50,000!!! (but the PROPORTIONAL payout should have been $60,000). The same thing happens on the 9-spot and the 10-spot. As any Keno player knows, it’s infinitely harder to hit 9 of 9 or 10 of 10 vs 8 of 8, so why would you want to settle for the same payout? The same is true on the Video Keno machine 8 of 8, 9 of 9 and 10 of 10 all pay the same. Why would I consider playing more than 8 numbers, especially since I get paid more for hitting fewer numbers? The moral of this story is if you are chasing the Top Prize, find the ceiling according to the paytable and play the minimum amount of numbers that will get you there. In both examples that number is 8. Don’t consider playing 9 or 10.
• The Video Keno doesn’t offer the option to play just one number. If you are a one-number player, then your option is clear in this case…Live Keno. The main thing to point out here (and is true for the video Keno also) is that the payout for hitting a 1-spot on a $1 bet is $3. Not too terribly bad you say. After all, you have a 25% chance of winning and the casino is paying me 3 to 1 when the actual odds are 4 to 1 and you can’t expect them not to take a percentage, so you can live with that, Right? Well, just remember that the $3 you get paid includes the original $1 you bet, so they are actually paying you 2 to 1 (or 3 for 1). This is true with every bet wagered in Keno. All payouts include your original bet, so you have to subtract the amount wagered from the payout in order to calculate the true house percentage.
• Now the rest is up to you and your style of play and your goal…do you like playing a lot of games for a small amount, or shoot the wad at a chance for the brass ring. The Video Keno allows you to play a smaller denomination and has a paytable that offers higher payouts for hitting a few numbers which will help extend the amount of time that you play, but remember that you will blow through about 50 video games in the time it takes to get off one live game. The live game has better payouts for hitting most and all numbers, so the question is “do you feel Lucky?”
I’m not getting into calculating the percentages. There are plenty of other sites out there where you can find that information, but none that will give you what I have here. There are no numbers or patterns that offer better odds than others. Pick your birthdays, birth weights, kids’ ages, street address, or whatever. It doesn’t matter. I personally recommend the 3-spot, 5-spot, or 7-spot. These generally offer the best percentages (which isn’t saying much) and you still have an opportunity to win some good bucks.