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Keno or yes?

18 August 2019

Keno is one of the oldest casino games in existence, with roots in the Chinese lottery. Most players in the U.S. know it through video keno – the live game has never gained much of a foothold outside Nevada.

It’s a niche game, and there is no strategy for choosing numbers that can reduce the house edge. That takes it mostly off my radar, although I do receive the occasional e-mail from a reader asking about the video version.

The most recent came from a Delaware reader who asked, “Are there high-paying and low-paying versions of video keno like there are for video poker? Is there a good way to tell the difference?”

Payback percentages on video keno are grounded in pay tables. The frequency of wins is no different on a high-paying game than on a coin gobbler. The difference is in the size of the payoffs.

Of the available 80 random numbers, 20 are drawn. Your payoff depends on how many you correctly mark, so there needs to be a two-spot pay table, a three-spot pay table, a four-spot pay table and so on.

Each pay table can vary from machine to machine.

Michael Shackleford’s Wizard of Odds site lists seven sets of common pay tables at https://wizardofodds.com/games/keno/.

With nine pay tables in each set, that’s too much information to detail here, but let’s use a six-spot ticket as an example.

The first pay table starts with giving you your money back if none of your numbers hit. You get nothing for one or two numbers, but get two coins per coin wagered for three spots, five coins for four spots, 49 for five or 1,000 for six. That yields an 84.96% return.

Pay table 2 starts payoffs at two coins for three spots, four for four, 92 for five and 1,500 for six. Note the four-spot return is less than in the first pay table, and with no return for zero spots, the five- and six-spot pays show a big increase. Mostly, that balances out. Average return is 85.21%.

Pay table 3 ups the three-spot pay to three coins, then pays four for four spots, 55 for five and 1,600 for six. Average return: 88.02%.

Pay table 4 also returns three for three spots and four for four, but 68 for five and 1,500 for six. Average return: 90.76%.

Pay table 5 is the same on three and four spots, but raises five to 70 and six to 1,600. Average return: 92.67%.

Pay table 6 gives your money back on zero spots. Three spots also is worth only getting your money back instead of the two- or three-coin pays you’ve seen on the other tables. But four spots gets you 14 coins, and getting that much on a fairly common result keeps the overall return up despite a modest 62 coins on five spots and a low 300 on six. The overall return is 92.66 percent.

Pay table 7 returns three coins for three spots, four for four spots, 75 for five and 1,660 for six. It has the highest overall payback percentage among these six-spot tickets at 94.99%.

Unlike video poker, where common pay table changes come on full houses and flushes, video keno has changes up and down the table. There is no easy rule for choosing a game at a glance. But if you choose the number of spots you like to play and look up and down the Wizard of Odds charts, it can point out the best and weakest versions.

Look for John Grochowski on Facebook (http://tinyurl.com/7lzdt44) and Twitter (@GrochowskiJ).
Recent Articles
Best of John Grochowski
John Grochowski
John Grochowski is the best-selling author of The Craps Answer Book, The Slot Machine Answer Book and The Video Poker Answer Book. His weekly column is syndicated to newspapers and Web sites, and he contributes to many of the major magazines and newspapers in the gaming field, including Midwest Gaming and Travel, Slot Manager, Casino Journal, Strictly Slots and Casino Player.

Listen to John Grochowski's "Casino Answer Man" tips Tuesday through Friday at 5:18 p.m. on WLS-AM (890) in Chicago. Look for John Grochowski on Facebook and Twitter @GrochowskiJ.

John Grochowski Websites:

www.casinoanswerman.com

Books by John Grochowski:

The Craps Answer Book

> More Books By John Grochowski

John Grochowski
John Grochowski is the best-selling author of The Craps Answer Book, The Slot Machine Answer Book and The Video Poker Answer Book. His weekly column is syndicated to newspapers and Web sites, and he contributes to many of the major magazines and newspapers in the gaming field, including Midwest Gaming and Travel, Slot Manager, Casino Journal, Strictly Slots and Casino Player.

Listen to John Grochowski's "Casino Answer Man" tips Tuesday through Friday at 5:18 p.m. on WLS-AM (890) in Chicago. Look for John Grochowski on Facebook and Twitter @GrochowskiJ.

John Grochowski Websites:

www.casinoanswerman.com

Books by John Grochowski:

> More Books By John Grochowski