National Keno Championship ticket examples

June 03, 2014 3:09 AM


More solid ticket choices With the National Keno Championship Tournament coming up June 12-14 at the El Cortez ($500 buy-in, open to all, keep all winnings, eligible for prize money, comps) let’s examine some additional tourney tickets that give you a good chance for a nice win and could put you in the prize money as well.

Since 15 places are paid in the tournament, every ticket and way you play should focus on getting a share of the prize money. Playing 1- and 2-spots will not get you there as with a limit of $10 per ticket or per way you simply cannot win enough to place in the money. The only place for 1- and 2-spots in a tourney is at the very end where a small win will move you up in the standings to qualify for prize money.

That being said, you generally need SOLID hits from 5-spots and above to place in a tournament. For 8-spots and above, hitting all the numbers except one will give you a nice hit and a chance at the prize money as well.

Let’s look at a ticket that gives a little of both. Group a 9-spot ticket as 2-2-2-1-1-1, giving you 3 deuces (groups of two) and 3 kings (groups of one). Play just the 9s, 8s, 7s, and 6s. Using the El Cortez 40-cent rate, playing at 20 cents a way, you would have one 9-spot, three 8-spots, six 7-spots, and ten 6-spots for a total ticket cost of $4. Thus, for your $500 buy-in you could play this ticket 125 times. Since you may play a maximum of 20 games per ticket in the El Cortez tourney, you would replay this ticket at the expiration of 20 games.

The beauty of this ticket is that even at 20 cents a way you still get good returns on SOLID hits as well as something back on less than SOLID hits. A SOLID 6 at 20 cents a way will get you $500, but there is more.

If you hit a SOLID 6 you have to hit some smaller pays as well. Let’s say you are lucky enough to hit a SOLID 6 by hitting 2-2-0-1-1-0 from your ticket of 2-2-2-1-1-1. To start with, you have a 6-of-9, which at 20 cents per way pays $7.50. You also have a 6-of-8, which pays $15. You have three 6-of-7s paying $35 each for a total of $105.

In addition you have two 5-of-7s, which pay $3.50 each for a total of $7.00. Of course you have a SOLID 6 paying $500. You also have two 5-of-6s paying $15 each for a total of $30. Thus, without including the many minor hits such as 5-of-8, 4-of-8 (Yes, the El Cortez 40-cent rate pays your money back on a 4-of-8) 4-of-7, 3- and 4-of-6, you bring home about $700 with a SOLID 6 hit.

Of course, should you hit 7 numbers you win even more, most of the time. While it is possible to hit 7-of-9 without hitting even a SOLID 6 (hit of 2-1-1-1-1-1) there are many possibilities of getting one or more SOLID 6s with a hit of 7-of-9.

Hitting 7-of-9 is not too uncommon, (odds 1689:1) and 6-of-9 (odds 174:1) is likely if you play the 125 games as mentioned above. We will call the 7-of-9 hit the Borg hit for short. Extra credit to those readers who know why this is called a Borg hit.

As you hit more numbers, the number of small pays increase both in amount and number. Even if you hit 7-of-9 (please do not hit her in the face) the wrong way (2-1-1-1-1-1) you still have a plethora of smaller hits that do add up.

Taking some of the pays, you get $50 for your Borg hit (7-of-9) playing for 20 cents a way. You have three 6-of-8s for $15 each for a total of $45. You have two 6-of-7 hits for $70 (2 x $35). You have six 5-of-6s at $15 each for a total of $90. Thus, as you can see, any 7-of-9 hit brings home the bacon (actually the steak as you can easily afford the excellent Flame restaurant with this kind of hit).

And, if you hit 7-of-9 the right way you might even win the tourney as well. Let’s say you hit the 7-of-9 as follows: 2-2-2-1-0-0. You have a pay for 7-of-7 ($3,500), two 7-of-8s ($600), one 6-of-6 ($500), and loads of partial pays.

Hit 7-of-9 as 2-2-0-1-1-1 and you have a SOLID 7 and three SOLID 6s, too. As you can see, using kings (groups of one) and deuces (groups of two) can make for an excellent payday even when all the numbers are not caught. A most powerful ticket!

There is still time to enter this tournament and also the one at The Orleans (June 17-19). They are EXCELLENT for the recreational player as you limit your losses and have virtually no cap on your wins. The value of the free rooms at each property is in excess of $250 and with the added benefits (free slot play at El Cortez, buffets at Orleans) and gifts (both properties) you already have cut your losses more than in half. Even if you are not a winner you will have some small pays in most cases.

As an added incentive I am scheduled to be there, live and in color, at the El Cortez for the Meet and Greet Reception Thursday night, June 12, 6 p.m., to answer any keno questions you might have. If you are a local both properties are well served by the excellent Las Vegas Transit System.

The El Cortez even gives locals a $50 food voucher upon buy-in if they are not staying at the hotel. The coffee shops at both hotels have excellent food, great variety, and are open 24/7.

These are your chances to play keno at minimal risk. Give it a try, and 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. You can reach him at

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