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The new world of video keno

17 July 2014

When I started going to casinos in the 1980s, I played a little of everything – blackjack, roulette, video poker, slots, some early attempts at craps and a game that’s rarely seen today called red dog.

Keno? A little bit over breakfast. Nearly every casino in Las Vegas had keno runners then. Many still do, but some have dropped the runners. I’d fill out my card while waiting for an order, and the runner would take it up to the keno booth, and later bring any winnings.

I rarely played video keno. I didn’t like it because it didn’t have the same flexibility as a live game. If I marked four numbers, I was getting a four-number combination, period. I didn’t have the option of playing the ticket as one four-way and four three-ways, as I did at the breakfast table.

Today, video keno is a lot more flexible. I don’t write about it often, but it has a loyal niche following. When they sit down at keno machines today, they can touch screens to choose among nearly a dozen offerings. Here are a few that are steps up from the video originals.

Cleopatra Keno: The lettering and colors in the logo are the same as in IGT’s long-popular Cleopatra slot machine, but the play is pure keno. The twist is that if the last number drawn is marked as part of a winning combination, you get 12 free plays with double payoffs.

If you’ve marked a 6-spot with 29 as one of your numbers, enough of your numbers are drawn to give you a winner, and the last of the 20 numbers drawn is 29, you go to bonus play. However, if the draw has been missing your other numbers and your 29 is part of a losing screen, no bonus for you.

2-4-6 Way and 3-6-9 Way Keno: These aren’t as flexible as marking a way-ticket on a live keno game and defining your own grouping, but they do give video players a option to spice up a straight ticket.

In 2-4-6 Way Keno, you pick three groups of two-numbers. Those are then played in combinations so that you have three two-number ways, three four-number ways and one six-number way going at the same time.

Let’s say I pick the two-number sets 1-2, 3-4 and 5-6. Each of those sets is its own two-number way. 1-2 is then grouped with 3-4 for one four-number way, 1-2 with 5-6 for a second and 3-4 with 5-6 for a third. All six numbers, of course, make up your six-number way. The bottom line is that you have seven combinations working at once.

Play is the same with 3-6-9 Way Keno, except that you’re picking three three-number sets instead of two-number sets. Again, you wind up with seven ways – three with three numbers, three with six and one with all nine numbers.

Caveman Keno: This was one of the first of the keno bonusing games, and it remains popular today. You can mark anywhere from two to 10 numbers. The game then generates an additional three numbers and assigns them to dinosaur eggs. If the egg numbers are drawn, the eggs hatch.

Those hatchings become important if you have a winner on the numbers you selected. If the 20 numbers chosen include zero or one egg number, you just get your regular winnings from the pay table. But if two egg numbers are drawn, your winnings are multiplied by four, and if all three egg numbers are selected, your winnings are multiplied by eight. A big winner can grow to Apatosaurus size in a hurry.

In a variation called Caveman Plus Keno, two or three hatchings bring three more numbers. Those can increase your winnings in two ways. If they match one of the numbers you chose, then you move up a notch on the pay table. And if you’ve started with two eggs hatching and one of the extra numbers hatches the third egg, your multiplier increases from four to eight times.

Extra Draw Keno: Sometimes you’re oh, so close, to a big win, and you’d like to see another number or three drawn. On Extra Draw Keno, you can purchase three more draws by making a second wager the same size as your first.

You need to pick your spots. If you’ve picked a 10-spot card and it takes at least four numbers just to get your bet back, then it’s pointless to pay extra money if you’ve caught zero numbers – even if you matched all three extra numbers, your card is still a loser. The extra draw should be used only if you already have a winner, and catching one more would bring a big jump in your payoff.

Look for John Grochowski at www.casinoanswerman.com, 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:

> 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:

The Craps Answer Book

> More Books By John Grochowski