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Keno Strategy

So you're here to find some professional advice, some specialized targeted keno strategy advice. Ok then, that's exactly what I'll provide, but you might not like to hear it! Basically your keno strategy should be to enjoy yourself. Sure, that's good advice no matter what game you're playing, but its even better for keno... because there's not too much more to add.

That isn't to say there's nothing to learn. In fact, if you can simply learn to understand your own motivations for playing the game, you'll become a more intelligent player. First of all, lets look at the options available to us, the player, when we first attempt to employ a keno strategy. What variables do we have direct control over? Obviously we control the numbers we pick, and on top of that the number of numbers we pick, and the casinos offer 'way' bets to combine more than one bet on one card. Do these things have an outcome on play? Well you'd be hard pressed to prove that the outcome of a keno game has nothing to do with the numbers that come up, but you could pretty easily say that it has nothing to do with the numbers that you choose. If you can affect the numbers that come up with the numbers that you choose, then you're more than a step ahead of me. Ok then, so what about our other variables? The number of numbers you choose.

The sharp mind is going to say, hey, the odds have to change with the number of numbers I pick, right? I mean, if I pick just two numbers, isn't there a better chance of hitting 100% of those numbers than if I had picked 10? In actuality yes, but as payouts fluctuate with the number of numbers picked, the casinos compensate for any weak mathematics. Looking at the tables provided by the wizard of odds you can get a good sense of what happens the more numbers you bet on, at a casino.

What about way or combination bets (read the keno rules page for some background)? These are simply methods for the casino to, in one way, give you more to do while you play keno, but also make you feel as though you have a little more control over things. This reasoning is spurious of course, because if combining bets actually helped your chances, chances are the casinos wouldn't let you do it. The one positive thing that can be achieved by using combination bets is the possible lowering of bet minimums. For instance, if you have a 3 way bet going, the casino may only require a $0.50 minimum on the bet, as opposed to the standard $1. This isn't much of an advantage however, as you are still only paid back based on what you actually wager.

Basic bottom line advice? It doesn't really matter how many numbers you choose, or if you combine or wheel your bets. Choose less numbers if you like to win a little bit, a little more often; choose many if you only really want to win once in keno, but you want it to put yourself in the lap of luxury for life.

To make things a little easier on you, I picked up a table of probabilities from an article by Alan Krigman, which clearly shows the chances of hitting all the numbers, depending on how many numbers you choose.

Click here for table with probability of various numbers of matches at keno

Once you get the knack, the table is simple to follow. Here's an example of how to interpret it. Suppose you pick 4 numbers. You've got a 30.8 percent chance none will hit, a 21.3 percent chance 2 will hit, and down to a 0.3 percent chance all 4 will hit.

Now say you want the big bucks and grab 14 numbers. You've a 2.0 percent chance half will hit, 0.4 percent chance eight will hit, and much less than 0.1 percent chance of a grand slam; it's not given, but the actual probability of 14 matches is 0.00000000257 percent -- one chance out of 389 million.

Thanks to Alan Krigman for compiling this valuable information.

As the standard casino-fare suggests, inclusion of a discussion of odds, house edge, and other hard numbers is a necessity to any serious keno strategy page. Honestly it's difficult to describe the nature of the game, confined to a logical, mathematical perspective. It's true, you heard it here first: mathematically, keno is not as advantageous to the player as games like blackjack and craps. By the same measure, neither blackjack or craps, nor any other casino game short of slots gives you the opportunity to bet a very small amount with the potential for an immense payout. It can't happen at the blackjack table, no matter how many years you hang around the blackjack tables at the Bellagio nobody is ever going to jump up and yell jackpot!

So how do the math-heads compensate for this difference in nature? Well they say the percentage of people who walk away from the game of keno is significantly lower than the percentage of people who walk away from a blackjack table. To this I say, what are the average winnings for a blackjack player, compared to the average winnings of a keno player? Nobody can answer that, and this throws a bit of a wrench into the logic of the numbers-heads. Beyond that, if you've read the index page of this site, you already understand my opinion of all the over-savvy house edge folk in the casino.

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