Knowing your pay potential when playing keno

April 15, 2014 3:00 AM


Keno balls. Las Vegas Keno tips and strategies. Las Vegas Casino Keno tournaments If you play the board game of Monopoly you will notice a major increase in rent received when you build a third house, far larger than the difference between one or two houses or between three and four houses.

This is often true in Keno as well. Take the Pop 80 rate where a 6-out-of-6 pays $2,000 and a 7-out-of-7 pays $14,000. Note also that an 8-out-of-8 pays $16,000. Thus, play the 7-spot as a 7-of-7. It is six times as easy to hit as an 8-of-8.

A 7-of-7 is about five times as difficult to hit as a 6-of-6 but you are paid seven times as much. Of course, percentage-wise the total overall returns are very similar as, for example, the 8-spot has better smaller pays than the 7-spot.

Next, keep in mind the aggregate limit in the casino. If you play a ticket where the potential pay is considerably more than the aggregate limit you are wasting your money. For example, you want to play the very powerful all king ticket of eight kings, playing one 8 and eight 7s.

If you play all the ways for 80 cents you have a potential win of $16,000 + 8 X $14,000 = $16,000 + $112,000 = $128,000. But if the casino has an aggregate limit of $100,000 you are shorted $28,000 on an 8-of-8.

Therefore, adjust your play accordingly so you stay within the aggregate limit if you hit is big. (Or if you like, adjust your playing accordion while waiting for your numbers to appear, but please stay in tune.)

Play the sevens at 60 cents and your win, if you hit all eight numbers, is $16,000 + 8 X $10,500 = $16,000 + $84,000 = $100,000. Do not worry that other small pays will put the casino a little over $100,000. 

They are not going to figure out 99.37 percent to each player, they will just pay it all. Of course, if there is another big winner on the game (not too likely) your win will be pro-rated.

There are six upcoming tournaments in Las Vegas within the next few months. If you know of more write me at the email address at the end of this column. Dates are approximate as each hotel calls the tournament dates in a different way (i.e. day before when you check in, actual day it starts, day of a preliminary tourney, etc.):

The D: May 1-4

Fremont: May 19-22

California: June 1-5

El Cortez: June 12-14

Orleans: June 17-19

Excalibur: Aug 1-3 (may be +/- a day here)

Most of these require $500 in tournament play but give you rooms, food, small gifts and, of course, prize money to the winners, a good gaming value. Make sure you get on their mailing lists by using your slot card or keno account number when you play.

If you are new to the game, most of these places will allow you to play in the tournament. Remember, in these tournaments you keep all you win plus you have a chance at the prize money. And, in any event, you get all the comps and/or discounts to boot (but don’t miss the uprights.)

Yours truly will be at the reception at the El Cortez prior to the start of the tournament to answer any questions and/or to help you with writing your tickets and calculating ways. Hope to see you there!

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

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