Keno can help you live the comped life
February 06, 2018 3:09 AM
by Pesach Kremen
Is it possible to make a living playing keno as some do in blackjack, video poker, and sports betting? First of all, there are very, very few who are actually successful in gaining a long-term advantage over the casinos.
Many say they do but in reality, it is rare. However, it is possible to come out a ahead in the “comp” game. There are several reasons for this. First of all, many comps do not cost the casino anywhere near their retail value. A buffet may cost you $20 but the variable cost to the casino may only be $5.
A free ticket to a show that doesn’t sell out costs the casino almost nothing. Same with a free room if the hotel will not sell out that night, but it is perceived as very good value to the player. The casino gains more play with these “freebies” given to you that many times cost them very little.
Thus, how do we get a possible “edge?” First of all one must know how to obtain the house edge on any ticket. You can do the calculation yourself or use a program available through the internet or learn how to simplify the calculations based on instructions in a good keno book.
While keno tickets will not pay out more than they take in, there are exceptions, the main one being when a progressive gets so high the percentages switch to the player’s favor. This has happened at The Atlantis (Reno) in their “more to the Meter” progressive where 50 cents of every ticket goes into the progressive, as well as statewide in Megakeno.
The Station Casinos with their jumbo progressives for 6, 7, 8 and 9 spots could possibly get high enough. Less likely but still possible the 8-spot progressive at the Gold Coast and The Orleans if one is patient for it to get high enough to warrant a player edge as well.
The trick is knowing how to calculate the break-even point. This is where, at a given moment in time, the house edge drops to zero due the progressive payout getting quite high. Calculating this has gotten easier as there are various websites that have keno calculators, such as Michael Shackleford’s (a well renowned gambling expert from UNLV) wizardofodds.com.
You simply convert the keno ticket price proportionally to $1 per ticket and adjust the payouts based on a per dollar amount. Then enter this information into the calculator and you have the return on any given ticket. Please keep in mind, due the long odds on a higher number of spots, a large bankroll may be required.
Thus, as you can see, a player can get the advantage at times. Most of us just want to enjoy the game, get a good return for our gambling dollar and are not concerned about whether the theoretical return is to our advantage, only that the payout appears attractive enough to warrant playing.
For example, the Megakeno 10-spot is at $2,275,000 and rising (as of deadline) and even though it does not have a theoretical player edge until it gets even higher, where else can you win over $2 million on a keno ticket for a bet of only $1.50?
Keno can get quite attractive as far as a good return is considered. The game is slow, your bankroll lasts longer, comps are available, thus it still is a great and fun game to play. Best of luck to you!
Pesach Kremen is a former UNLV Masters Gaming student, has won and placed in multiple local keno tournaments, and has written several academic papers on keno. Email: PesachKremen@GamingToday.com