Learn to Play and Win at Keno

Keno is sometimes shunned by casino-goers due to the belief that the odds are not nearly as favorable as they are with slot machines, blackjack or video poker. This isn't completely true.

It is true that keno can never beat the payback percentage of someone playing blackjack or video poker with near-perfect strategy. However, with the right number of picks and the right pay table, expected payback on keno can get as high as 95%, making keno prizes and table odds higher than many slot machines.

keno odds table prizes

Keno also requires no skill whatsoever to get the highest payback percentage; there are reams of video poker players out there who think they are playing at 99% when really they're playing at more like 80%.

In addition, it offers the excitement of much bigger potential jackpots. Unlike almost every other game on the floor, you can play keno while relaxing at a lounge, bar or restaurant, making this classic casino game a favorite among players everywhere.

Keno's Popularity Keeps Growing

keno history

Though keno made its way to modern casinos and state lotteries by way of Old West gambling houses, it traces its roots all the way back to China as a form of lottery played for hundreds of years.

The first recorded keno game was held at The Palace Club in Reno in the early 1900s, but it was known to be played in illegal gambling dens in Chinatown areas of the United States prior to that.

Learn Tip Keno Strategies and Make Your Bankroll Grow

keno basic rules

You have two main choices of keno games: live or at machines. Casinos traditionally have had keno lounges for live games, but some have opted to remove these in favor of making more space for poker.

These casinos still offer keno, but it is more likely to be found at a small station or from a keno runner circulating around the restaurants and bars on the property. As far as machines go, many of the popular multi-game machines such as Game King have several different keno variants.


How to Play Keno Online

If you want to play live keno, you start by obtaining a keno card from one of the aforementioned sources. Standard keno cards consist of the numbers 1-80 arranged in ten rows.

The rules of the game will vary by casino, but generally you will be able to pick from 1 to 15 numbers. 20 numbers are then drawn from a hopper at the keno station or lounge, and are also usually displayed on monitors throughout the casino as well as on a TV channel in the hotel rooms. The more numbers you match, the larger your prize.

keno side bets wagering

Drive Your Success With Advanced Plays

One wager will allow you to pick whatever the maximum amount of numbers is. However, as you pick more numbers, you gradually sacrifice the ability to claim prizes for smaller amounts of matches.

So, for example, let's say you're playing a game that allows you to pick up to 10 numbers per wager. If you choose to only pick four, you'll win money if you hit anywhere from two to four numbers.

If you pick 10 numbers, however, you won't win money unless you match a minimum of five of those numbers. If you want to play the same numbers in multiple games without having to fill out a new ticket each time, ask for a multi-race ticket.

keno paybacks pay tables

Some keno games will also offer side bets. For example, you can play two different sets of numbers with a “split ticket,” or you can take all the numbers on a particular line with a “way bet.”

Casinos will vary greatly in the types of exotic keno bets they offer, and you can get the full rundown by stopping at the keno booth or asking a keno runner.

One final piece of critical information about live games — you may only have until the next game starts to collect your winnings.

keno bets wagering

That can leave you with as little as five minutes from when the numbers are drawn to pick up your money or forfeit it. If you're playing live keno, you have to really be on top of the drawings.

Electronic keno at a machine is much more simple. The rules are the same, but the results come in instantly, allowing you to play through games much more rapidly.

Advanced Plays Can Improve Your Success

keno payback percentages

Keno is entirely a game of chance. The only element of strategy to it is picking the most favorable pay table and the amount of numbers that will give you the highest expected payback percentage.

In terms of payback percentage, the machines are generally far better than live games. Keno games on machines tend to have an expected payback of 80 to 95%. A more realistic expectation for live games is 60 to 80%.

Machines offer better pay tables because the games conclude so much more quickly. Given variance, a machine player is likely to drop as much or more money over their playtime as a live player even though their pay table is better simply because they are blowing through games at a much faster pace.

keno machines

Casinos will publish pay tables, but not the expected payback percentage. You have to calculate that on your own, which is a complicated process. To simplify it a bit, you'll find that the payback percentage generally increases as you move toward the middle of total numbers picked.

So if you can pick 10 numbers in total, the odds are usually most favorable if you pick between four and seven. However, the difference between these picks is also usually less than a percentage point.

The only place where your odds drop off a cliff is if you only pick one number — that gives you about 20% less likelihood of winning money.

As far as the pay table information that you can see at the casino goes, it's really simple — the higher, the better.

It helps to shop around a little between different casinos, as they often don't have the same pay tables and some will be more favorable than others.

Find the Best Online Keno Gaming

local casino keno games

Nevada casinos almost all have live keno games, unless they are a very small slot parlor or poker room. Keno is also always an option on the ubiquitous Game King machines seen in nearly every casino. These games are usually found at the larger casinos on Native American tribal lands throughout the United States as well.

Some states run a daily lottery that is a form of keno. These are Indiana, Michigan, New York, Ohio and Washington. Each has their own little quirks that make them a bit different from casino keno, however. The odds of winning money at them actually tend to be significantly better than live games at casinos.

Though Nebraska forbids most forms of gambling, the state is unique in that it does allow keno to be played at certain licensed taverns. However, the state law stipulates that games cannot be run more than once every five minutes, meaning that machine keno has traditionally not been feasible there.

Build a Bankroll with Smart Play

bingo lottery keno terms

Though keno is a simple game, casinos are notorious for not being adequately communicative about the small details of their games. This guide should have you prepared to select the best game and the right amount of numbers for you.


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