Progressives give the player an opportunity to win a larger sum of money than the usual pay for a Solid Hit (catching all your numbers), lowering the house edge on the ticket and giving you a better value for your Keno Dollar(s).
The Station casinos have a progressive for the 6, 7, 8, 9 spots. They also participate in the statewide 10-spot Mega Keno. Their 6, 7, 8, 9 spot is an in-house progressive among their properties. These tickets play for $1 each. They may be part of way tickets as long as the way on the progressive way is for one dollar. The 6-spot starts at $2,500, the 7-spot at $10,000, the 8-spot, $50,000; and the 9-spot, $60,000. As more people play these progressives the jackpot goes up until it is hit.
Using way tickets you can play all the progressives at once and even hit more than one of them at the same time. I have verified this with the casino, and if you happen to hit more than one of them during the same game (both the 6 and the 7 as an example), you will be paid for all progressives you hit as well as any smaller pays from your ticket.
Let’s examine a way to try to catch them all.
The most basic way – and the cheapest – to catch them all is to play a ticket with three groups (6-2-1) – a group of 6, a group of 2 (called a deuce), and a group of 1 (called a king). This will give you one 6, one 7 (the group of 6 plus the king), one 8 (the group of 6 plus the deuce), and one nine (all the numbers). The cost would be $4 at the required $1 per way.
Besides having a shot at the four big progressives, you would also receive smaller pays for lesser hits (5 of 9, 4 of 6, etc.). The advantage of playing ways is you have more opportunities to win, although you pay for the opportunity with a higher ticket cost due to the number of ways you play.
Of course it is also easier to hit 6 of 9 than it is to hit 6 of 6, but to get the progressive you must hit the right 6. It is a problem in what is called conditional probability. Given that you catch 6 of 9 numbers, what is the chance you will catch 6 the right way? There are 84 ways to catch 6 of 9 numbers and only one of these is the right way to get the progressive.
This may not sound good, but if you catch 6 the “wrong” way you still have caught 6 of 9, either 5 or 6 of 8, at least 4 of 7, and at least a 3 of 6. This will give you some cash back to keep trying for the progressive.
You can greatly increase your chances by playing more ways and, of course, digging deeper in your wallet. Be careful to play only what you can afford to lose. But keno is a slower game so your money lasts longer, such as playing a ticket grouped as follows: two groups of 3, one group of 2 (deuce) and one group of 1 (king).
This ticket would cost you $6 but now you have three 6’s going for you along with a single 7, 8, and 9. For those of you who can afford to play more, try a ticket grouped as 3-2-2-1-1, costing you $11 (1 nine, 2 eights, 3 sevens, 5 sixes). This is a very powerful ticket as hitting kings and deuces are far easier than hitting larger groups. Or 2-2-2-2-1 (1 nine, 1 eight, 4 sevens, 4 sixes) for $10, which is another powerful ticket.
While you play, make sure you give the keno writer your tracking information (keno account number or slot card) as they have historically given about 4% of your action (win or lose) back in comps.
Have a good time; enjoy the game and the thrill of seeing your numbers come up…hopefully, a lot of them.
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. You can reach him at [email protected].