What is Keno?
Keno is a lottery style game brought to the U.S. by Chinese immigrants in the 1800s. The game is played by selecting between 4 and 10 numbers from a board numbered 1 through 80. Each selection that a player makes is referred to as a “spot”. So, a person who chooses only 4 numbers is playing a 4 spot game, while a person who chooses 9 numbers is playing a 9 spot game. When the player has made their selections, 20 numbers will be drawn from a barrel or bin containing 80 numbered balls, but if being played electronically, the numbers will be selected at random by a computer. The more matches a person has on their Keno card to the randomly selected numbers, the more money the person will win.
One round of Keno is referred to as a “race”. If a person wants to play the same numbers for multiple races, this is referred to as “multi-race” Keno. For example, a person may decide to play one set of numbers for one race or play the same set of numbers for 10, 15, or 20 races.
Statistically, Keno is one of the worst games a gambler can play. With a house advantage that is usually around 30% or more, the odds of winning at Keno are slim. In fact, the chances that a player will match one number out of 80 lies at 0.25% (that’s not 25%, that’s one quarter of one percent).
Many gamblers in brick and mortar casinos are often lured to the Keno lounge because they can get free drinks for cheap minimum bets. In some casinos, the minimum bet to participate in a Keno race costs only a nickel. In this case, even if they person loses, they could potentially drink a whole six pack for 30 cents. House advantage or no house advantage, a six pack of beer for 30 cents is always a win.
Keno is popular amongst gamblers who enjoy low risk games. Just like traditional state lotteries, a person can win thousands of dollars for a $1 investment, but these wins are rare, and a person is more likely to earn back their losses in alcohol or sodas than in a jackpot.
Keno is so popular in some casinos that a person doesn’t even have to be present in the Keno lounge to play. Instead, Keno runners are paid by the casino to distribute and collect Keno cards for players in other areas of the casino.
In casinos that distribute paper Keno tickets (the forms that Keno players use to mark their selections) a person is usually allowed to play on as many Keno cards as they would like, similar to die hard Bingo players who play with multiple cards at the same time. If the game is played on a computer board, the player is usually limited to only one card per race.
All in all, it’s easy to learn to play Keno since the rules are so simple. Grab a Keno card, select 4 to 10 numbers, and wait to see if any of those numbers match the 20 numbers selected at random. If players decide to play Keno in a traditional casino and the minimum bets are low enough, the player shouldn’t forget to drink up while they can.