Orleans, The California hosting keno tournaments

February 10, 2015 3:08 AM


I like the 7-spot for tournaments as with the Island rate played at 40 cents per way it pays $7,000 for a solid hit.Both the Feb. 17-19 tournament at the Orleans and the Mar. 1-5 event at the California are very similar. Let’s look at how to play in them as well as enjoy yourself.

For both your $500 buy in earns rooms, some meals, a small gift and a chance at the prize money. Thus, you have an excellent getaway opportunity at much lower cost than going a la carte.

Both tournaments pay out about $10,000 in prize money from 10 to 20 places. Thus, if there are 100 entries in each, the prize money is worth about $100 on average. Assuming the ticket return percentage is about 75% in each casino one should expect to get back an average of 75% of the buy-in or $375 plus the average prize value of $100 bringing you to $475 out of $500.

The rooms, meals, and small gifts definitely are worth much more than $25, thus you are likely come out ahead. All players get the free or discounted rooms, some meals, and the small gift.

To have a realistic chance at being in the money, you need to avoid tickets that will not really help you. No one has hit more than 12 out of 12 in keno history, and this has only happened once. Thus playing a large bet 15-spot or even worse a 20-spot is not suggested as a good play.

I am not ruling it out. If you like to play 5 groups of 4 in order to go for the 8-spot progressive at The Orleans, go for it. (2 groups of 4 make an 8-spot and there are 10 ways to choose 2 groups out of 5, thus a ticket cost of $20). However, check first if the progressive is allowed for tournament play.

I have seen it both allowed and disallowed. In this case, playing an extra $5 for the 20-spot might not be a terrible idea. You might hit 8 of 20 but not in 2 groups of 4 each solid, and this way, at least you get the scatter pay of 8-of-20. Of course, this raises your ticket cost to $25.

I cannot emphasize enough to read all the rules of the tournament. There is no point having a ticket DQ’d due to it not being allowed!

Generally you are limited to $10 per way. Sometimes there is also a limit on 1- and 2-spot tickets, and no duplicate tickets. You probably have a better chance to win playing high end tickets, that is tickets with larger payouts for hitting them solid or nearly solid and less for minor hits.

Catch-all tickets (only the solid hit wins) work well for tournaments if they are available. The problem with catch all tickets is if you do not win by hitting all the numbers you get nothing in return. Most of us are not thrilled with going home empty even if we did have a better shot at the prize money with catch-all tickets.

As of my latest check, the Orleans has catch-all tickets and California does not. However, The Cal has the lower house edge Island rate for even small money tickets, thus each casino has its pluses and minuses. Personally I like The Cal because of this Island Rate. This 80 cent rate divides easily into 40 cents and, if enough ways are played, 20 cents a way tickets, a very powerful way to play in tournaments. I like king (one number groups) and deuce (2 number groups) tickets, which are easier to hit than a large group.

I like the 7-spot for tournaments as with the Island rate played at 40 cents per way it pays $7,000 for a solid hit. My favorite is the 2-2-1-1-1-1 ticket played for 5s and above. It will cost $10 at 40 cents a way and, if allowed, $5 at 20 cents a way. This way a  solid 7 still pays $3,500.

The beauty of this ticket is that it is impossible to hit a solid 7 without hitting several other solids with the same win. The only way to hit a 7 with groups of 2-2-1-1-1-1 is either to hit 3 deuces and a king or 2 deuces and 4 kings.

If you hit a solid 7 with 3 deuces and a king you also hit a solid 6 and 3 solid 5s. If you hit a solid 7 with 2 deuces and 3 kings you also hit 3 solid 6s and 5 solid 5s. The ticket gives you four different ways to hit a solid 7.

Hitting 7 of 8 is a nice pay, too. And for tip money you have all the minor hits as well. Of couryse hitting 7 of 8 is over 6000-1 one odds and you may hit the 7 the wrong way (not solid).

If you hit the 7 as 2-1-1-1-1-1, you still would have a solid 6 and 4 solid 5s plus a host of intermediate and small hits. If you hit 6 numbers total, depending on how you hit them, you could also hit 4 solid 5’s if you catch all the kings and a deuce. If you catch 2 deuces and 2 kings in your solid 6 you would also have 2 solid 5s.

You might hit the 6 as 1-1-1-1-1-1 getting no solid hit but lots of intermediate and small hits. The odds of hitting 6 of 8 are a little over 300-1. Hit 5 and you might get a solid 5. There are 56 ways to hit a 5 of 8 and 12 of these would be a solid hit. The Island rate pays even for 4 of 8.

Good luck. The second installment of keno math is planned for after The Cal tourney.

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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