Learning the basics to keno

January 20, 2015 3:00 AM


The Original $100,000 Keno game is available at El Cortez There has been a suggestion that I devote a column to the basics of keno. Even though you will find much of this information in some of the excellent keno books available, I am going to use a specific casino and pay book so you can easily learn how to play the game.

The current El Cortez pay book is titled “The Original $100,000 Keno Game” and has a picture red of the hotel tower.

The beauty of this pay book is it is organized in tabs on the right for each page, making finding what you want quite easy. One tab is “Quick Pick Keno 40¢ and 65¢ Combination Way Ticket.”

Say you want to play the 40-cent rate. Turn the page and you have the pays for catches on the 40-cent rate along with appropriate remarks such as “40¢ games must be a $2 minimum per ticket.” Notice, it is not saying play $2 a game, just play a ticket with a $2 minimum.

You could play a 5-game ticket and meet the requirement or go with a 10 way ticket at 20 cents a way. The 40-cent rate is an excellent play for beginners as well as way ticket players. It divides and multiplies quite easily into easy denominations The return is about 75% on most tickets, not as good as their $1.15 special rate but better than most Strip properties, with fun and action for very little risk.

Next to the 40-cent rate is 65¢. This rate does not have a ticket minimum, thus you can play just one ticket if you desire. There is also an example of what is called a “Combination Way Ticket.” Review it to see how ways can be formed. You have four groups of 2, which make one 8, four 6s, six 4s, and four 2s.

They show the 70-cent rate being used at 35 cents a way or at 70 cents, in the example. If you hit two groups solid and the other two, one will show as 2211 in the pay book. You win $147.55 if playing for 35 cents a way or $295.10 if playing for 70 cents a way.

The 70 cents is the historical pay table used for years ever since casinos changed their basic rate from 60 cents in the last millennium.

The third tab says “Top & Bottom or Left & Right.” This is a special type of ticket where you bet how many numbers will fall in that particular area of a ticket.

They also show their Super Special 95-cent tickets, foregoing the smallest pays in return for a larger solid hit.

The next page (tab) shows 85- and 90-cent rates as well as their “Top & Bottom or Left & Right” tickets where you bet on how many numbers will be called in a specific area of the ticket. On the far right is the “Dealer’s Special” ticket, a 12-spot marked in groups of 3, giving you 4/3, 6/6, and 4/9.

Out of your 3-3-3-3 ticket played at 40 cents per way you catch 2-2-1-1 and are paid $8.20 for your $5.60 ticket. There are 15 total ways on this ticket of which you are playing 14 and not the 1 way 12-spot as there is no 40-cent 12-spot rate. It is perfectly permissible to play the 12-spot offered at their regular $1 rate, which you could play at 50 cents (pay half, receive half).

When using multiple rates like this you now have what is called a “combination” ticket. You have their $1 rate and their $1.10 special rate. If you define special as “different” it may have more meaning for you.

The $1.15 special rate is one of the two best for low level play in Las Vegas. The return on the 5-spot the $1.15 rate is 87.61%, a great return for such low action keno play. This is my favorite to play while enjoying their excellent food at the adjacent Café Cortez.

Slot players can get three 2-for-1 coupons per month for this eatery and if alone you get 50% off your entrée. Good food for a very good price.

There is the “edge” ticket where, if the numbers show up along the edge of the ticket, you can win big.

Following is the “Sensational Sixteen,” their 16-spot ticket, and then their “Special 20t.” On the back cover they mention MegaKeno and Mega10, the statewide Keno Progressives for 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 spots run by XpertX Keno Systems, the leader in the field of Gaming Software for Keno.

My suggestion is to stop by the El Cortez (use the Strip buses, The Deuce or the SDX to get to downtown) and walk to the keno lounge. Pick up a pay book, some keno ticket blanks, and a keno crayon.

Go to the adjacent Café Cortez for a good meal and look over the Keno Pay book. Once you find your desired rate and game to play walk over to the keno lounge and turn in your ticket.

I have hit the $1.15 special solid while eating at Café Cortez. Hope you can do the same or better!

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 PesachKremen@GamingToday.com.

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