Keno has one of the highest house percentages against the player-a minimum of 22 percent-yet the game remains popular. The reasons are that it is an inexpensive way to gamble since you can play a keno ticket for as little as 40 cents (most casinos have a $1.00 minimum ticket), and there’s a possibility of hitting a huge jackpot. Anyone who plays keno should think of the game as a form of lottery or bingo and not a serious form of gambling. Therefore, any money bet on keno should be for fun, without any great expectancy of return.
Keno is played on a blank ticket, which you obtain at the keno parlor or at other places throughout the hotel-casino. A player selects from I to 15 numbers out of a possible 80 and marks them on the ticket. The marks are called spots, and the number of spots determines how much the ticket is worth. The operator of the game turns on a machine that randomly selects 20 numbered balls out of the possible 80 and calls out the numbers. If the player’s numbers match most or all of the numbers selected, he wins a payoff based on how many spots he marked, how many spots he hit, or caught, and how much he bet. Most casinos offer
keno at the rate of $1.00 per ticket. Some hotels in downtown Las Vegas offer lower prices, while some Strip resorts have a $ 1.00 minimum. If a player has a winning ticket, he must present it to the keno operator before the next game begins. Fading to do so voids his winning ticket.
The most common keno ticket played is the straight ticket, on which a player marks from I to 15 numbers and bets 70 cents or a multiple of 70 cents. Little thinking and planning are necessary to play a straight ticket. However, to maximize your chances of winning at keno, serious players should play a ‘way ticket.” It is called a way ticket because you place your numbers in groups that give you various combinations, or ways, of winning. With way tickets you can have more numbers working for you, and you don’t have to catch all of them to hit a good payoff. Basically a way ticket consists of three or more groups of equal numbers. Each group of numbers is circled, and they are counted in different combinations, which increase the possibility of winning. For instance, suppose you wanted to play 12 numbers. If you marked the numbers on a straight 70-cent ticket and caught eight of them, you’d win $150. Now lets see what happens when you mark the same 12 numbers on a way ticket. Because all way tickets require three or more groups of equal numbers, we will divide the 12 numbers into three groups of four. We could have also divided the 12 into four groups of three or six groups of two. The choice is yours. We do this on the ticket by marking the numbers, as we did on the straight ticket, then circling the three groups. What we now have is something different from the original 12-spot straight ticket. Counting two groups of numbers at a time, we now have three groups of 8 numbers, or the equivalent of three 8-spot tickets. To illustrate the point, we’ll call the circled groups A, B, and C. They can be grouped together in only three possible combinations: AB, AC, and BC. The result is three groups of 8 numbers, or a ‘three way 8-spot.” Because you now have three chances of winning, the cost of the ticket is three times a straight ticket, or $2.10, but the potential payoffs, as you will soon discover, far outweigh the additional cost. Now if your same 8 numbers hit, you are paid on the 8-out-of-8 payoff scale, or a whopping $12,500 instead of the $ 150 the 8-out-of-12 ticket would have paid. This system of betting way tickets may sound
complicated, but all casinos that offer the game also supply booklets and schedules that can help you mark your tickets.