Overview of Keno
The game of keno originated in China over 2,000 years ago during the Han Dynasty. Legend has it that the game was first created to raise funds during times of war, and some history buffs claim that the Great Wall of China was also partially constructed in the same manner.
While the results of modern games are transmitted almost instantly using state-of-the-art technology, winning numbers in the B.C. era were delivered to towns and villages via carrier pigeon. The game stayed within mainland China for centuries, eventually migrating across the ocean when residents travelled to America to seek their fortune while working on the expanding railroad.
The technology and marketing surrounding keno has come a long way, but the game itself hasn’t changed much over the years. The player picks a series of numbers, crosses their fingers, and then hopes a matching set of numbers are drawn at random.
This article is intended to be an overview of the game of keno. In addition to discussing the basic rules, we’ll also examine the payout percentages from various online software developers, as well as strategies for getting the most from your next gaming session.
How to Play Keno
Since keno was originally enjoyed by Chinese peasants who could hardly read or write, the simplicity of the game should be obvious. To participate, a player must first obtain a real or virtual ticket. The ticket is marked with numbers ranging from 1 to 80, and it’s up to the player to select the digits that they think will be drawn.
Some establishments allow up to 20 numbers to be selected, although this is most common at land-based casinos with the necessary capital to cover any win. Online casinos, meanwhile, often limit their players to a maximum of 15 numbers.
The most common types of keno bets include the following:
This is the standard form of keno wager, as the player picks certain numbers and gets paid based on the number of matches. Some casinos also offer a payout if none of the numbers selected by the player end up being drawn.
Instead of choosing specific numbers, the player wagers on more numbers being selected from the top 40 or bottom 40 digits. In some cases, the player may also wager that all balls will be drawn from the top or bottom.
The player wagers that more even-numbered or odd-numbered balls are selected.
The player wagers on a certain group of numbers to be selected (in addition to the normal selection). This wager usually involves combinations of 2 or 4 numbers. If all the numbers within a combo are selected, the player receives a bonus payout based on the odds provided by the casino.
Once the player has made their wager and selected their numbers, the ticket is returned to the casino. Next, 20 balls are selected at random via computer software (online) or mechanical hopper (land-based). The winning numbers are then posted, and players may consult their ticket to see if they received enough hits to qualify for a payout. In the case of online gamers, matching numbers are marked on your screen as soon as a number is drawn.
If you’re playing at a brick-and-mortar casino, you’ll need to visit the keno booth in order to cash in your winning ticket. Online players have it much easier, as their winnings are automatically deposited into their casino account.
Keno players are usually asked to select anywhere from one to 20 numbers, with the size of the payout being determined by the number of matches. In this section, we’ll take a look at the odds for a player who’s picking all 20 numbers.
After looking at the above numbers, it should come as no surprise that the 20 out of 20 winning combination has never been hit. In fact, the odds of this are so steep that there would only be a single winner if everyone currently breathing played one game every second of their lives. Of course, that means someone is eventually bound to hit this statistical improbability, which is more than enough incentive for most.
Cheating at Keno
If you’re honestly considering trying to cheat at keno, then I suggest you take your bankroll and invest in a good psychiatrist. Only a crazy person would try to cheat the casino, especially with a game where the player has no physical interaction with the hopper or online computer software. It might be fun to fantasize about such criminal behavior, but the reality of the situation would be anything but pleasurable (unless you enjoy being banned from casinos and possibly going to jail).
Winning Keno Strategies
There’s no sure-fire way to win at keno, but that doesn’t stop players from looking for every possible advantage. Here are a few tips that you might try the next time you play, although I cannot guarantee that they’ll lead to a win.
Online Keno Return Percentages
In addition to being offered at land-based casinos, keno is also a popular option among online players. The same rules often apply, but the numbers are selected using a random number generator instead of a hopper.
Almost all online software providers include keno as part of their casino package, although the payout percentages can vary from one company to the next. Here are some examples:
The main version of the game from this software developer is Krazy Keno Superball, which awards a bonus payout if you play maximum credits and a special ball lands on one of your numbers. A pair of paytables exist for this game, with the top prizes for each being 10,000x (96% return) and 1,000x (94.01% return).
Also known as RTG, this company was founded in 1998 and acts as a software provider for some of the Internet’s biggest online casinos. Customers can select up to 15 numbers during a game of keno, and the expected returns are as follows:
This Toronto-based company launched in 1995 and currently provides over 200 games as part of their casino software. Up to 10 numbers can be picked during a game of keno. Take note – their return percentages are a bit below the industry average. If you’re an advantage gambler, you won’t be too impressed with these expected returns:
Established in 1998 by graduates of the Israel Institute of Technology, this online software provider allows keno players to wager $1, $3, or $5 on up to 10 spots. Up to 10 games may be played simultaneously, with the Pick 6 option offering the best return percentage (92.75%).
Also known as NetEnt, this company started in 2000 by launching their own online casino. They have since abandoned that practice, choosing instead to make gaming software for others. In their version of keno, $1 to $5 can be wagered on 2 to 10 numerical selections. NetEnt’s keno game features expected returns that are noticeably-high compared to other online games:
Created in 1999, Playtech is one of the largest publicly traded casino software developers on the planet. Their keno game offers payout percentages higher than most online games:
This company has a reputation for offering strong odds, and their keno payout table is the same as what you’ll find from Microgaming software.
The games from this software company mimic Microgaming in most ways, from their overall design to their payout structure. The version of keno allows players to choose from 3 to 15 numbers, and the payout percentages are among the best in the industry:
While the odds of winning big at keno are small, the prize money is often large enough that customers view it as a worthwhile gamble. The truth is, keno odds are some of the worst of all casino games, which is one of the main reasons why it serves as a template for state and national lotteries around the globe. It is, however, a lot of fun, especially when you manage to beat the odds and bring home a sizable payout.