Make the most of your comp points in keno

December 09, 2014 3:00 AM


Playing keno can be both fun and rewarding Today’s column shall focus on getting the best values in the casino for your keno and other play. Comps and freebies are real money as that is what they save you, real money.

Generally, it does not pay to play just in order to get a comp and rarely will the comp value be greater than your expected losses on added play. But there are exceptions.

Let’s say you know Keno play returns 4 cents, on average, per dollar played. Your meal will cost exactly $10 and you have $9.96 in your comp account and a comp is not issued until you have completely earned it.

 Thus, playing one more ticket for $1 to get your comp balance to $10 would not be out of line, and who knows, you might hit the 6-out-of-6 Jumbo Progressive on this ticket!

Another example

Your casino uses a tier system and you are 100 points short of the next tier. You are a good video poker player and the machines you play return 99% with proper play. The system gives you 1 point per dollar of play. Getting to the next tier gives you rooms $5 a day cheaper than your current tier. Your next stay is for 4 days. Thus there is a difference of $20 + tax on that $20 if you get to the next tier.

Since your machine returns 99% on average your expected loss is $1, so it is a good deal to go for the added play. But once you achieve that tier status cash out as you have achieved your goal whether you have $1,050 credits or only 70.

It goes without saying that keeping track of points earned is critical for success in the casinos.

A simpler example

Currently the El Cortez will comp your room if you play 2,000 points or more Sunday through Thursday. A Friday or Saturday room comp requires you to play 3,000 points or more per day on those days. Of course check with the casino as offers come and go.

If you have played 1,983 points you will not get a room comp that day, thus play the 17 points and get your comp, assuming the play required for the 17 points with average returns does not exceed the price of your room and tax.

Always use your slot or players card for ALL play. You might think you are only going to play one game or hand but you get a push and want to play another. Of course, if recording your play requires a manual entry by the floor person and he or she sees you leaving after a hand or two, this is not good. But in any game where it is mechanical or electric (slots), always use your card.

Same thing in Keno; even for a single ticket your account number gets tracked.

Some systems delete your points after a certain period so, if it has been 11 months since you visited and your next trip is several months away, play that one point to keep your account active. Often low level mailings with discounted rooms and meals are sent if you show any action at all.

Now comes the interesting part of how to make your play look more important than it really may be. Try to go to the same keno writer each time so they remember you as a “player.” They are more likely to put in a good word to the person with the “power of the pen” to give you comps.

At table games, rather than buying in for $20 here and there, if you plan to play $100 buy in with that. Frequently at a certain buy-in level the dealer must call over the floor person. In simple language, get noticed. Of course, keep your discipline and if your loss limit is $60 QUIT when you hit it. You can always cash in the remaining un-played chips at the cashier.

The same holds true in our favorite game, keno. Buy a multi-ticket for 21 games and you have a year to collect. Besides, at those casinos requiring a certain amount of play for a drink ticket you might better qualify in this manner. This is not an endorsement of the drink ticket system as you can play a penny at a time in a slot machine and get all the drinks you want.

If you get mailers and coupons use them. This way the casino knows its promotions are working, especially if it is for an item that you would use anyway.

Most of all – get to know a host. The best time to call them over is when you are playing.

Read through the rest of GamingToday; there is excellent advice on casino games and sports betting. Or go to Look for special subscription offers from time to time. I have kept every paper issue since I started to write this column (9/16/13) and constantly refer back to them for suggestions and advice.

Many players will play $10 a hand at a 6-to-5 blackjack table giving away $3 every time they get blackjack but will not spend money for a subscription or book to help their play.

Best of luck to everyone, and hit those numbers!

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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