Cal offers best way to serve keno players

February 24, 2015 3:00 AM


Cal offers best way to serve playersThe week of March 1 is tournament week at the California Hotel Casino. The most aggressive ticket we have covered is the 1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1 as eight kings (groups of one) playing for the 8s and 7s.

Both the $1 regular rate played as $1 for the 8 and 50 cents for the eight 7s (ticket cost $5) can give you a nice win if at least 7 of the 8 numbers come up. Less aggressive is playing 2-2-1-1-1-1 at 20 cents a way playing the 5s, 6s, 7s, 8s (25 ways total, Island Rate) also for $5.

Playing conservative you can try 2-2-2-1-1 playing for the 5s, 6s, and 7s (two 7s, four 6s, six 5s) at a quarter a way for $3 per game, the minimum allowed in the tourney. The good ticket is the one that works for you.

Players will have different objectives. Some will want to go for the maximum win at the cost of coming out with very little or nothing should that win not be achieved. Others want a good chance at a win but want to go home with some money back if they do not hit that big win. Still others want to retain most of their buy-in even if they give up their chance of placing.

I can go either way, depending on how others are doing. If no one is winning very much one can play conservative and still place. On the other hand, if the leaders are way ahead, you may feel aggressive play is in order. In a tourney you do not win just what is in the pay book, but if you place, prize money as well!

The paybacks at The Cal are better than almost all Strip properties and above average for downtown. While not the maximum payback downtown, The Cal makes up for it in better service and amenities. The buffet at Main Street Station is excellent and is available for your meal coupon book for the coupon and $3-$8 depending on the particular buffet attended – a good deal.

There are many other fine restaurants scattered throughout the connected properties (The Cal and Main Street Station are connected by an enclosed pedestrian bridge on the second floor) with which to indulge during your stay.

Some more suggestions. You get $500 in script for your $500 buy-in. You generally need to play at least five games at a $3 minimum per game. A game typically runs about every 6 to 10 minutes. Games are called more frequently late night when there is less action and less frequently during the day when there is more.

Have your tickets ready before you get in line and have the common decency to not smoke while in line. There will be a wait when a big winner is called in order to allow for verification of the win. Figure about 400 games during the tournament at an average of about 8 minutes per game.

Toward the end, games will take longer due to more attempts to get that big win. Base your last tickets on the number of games remaining. Do not be afraid to ask the writers how many more games are expected to be run.

The scores are posted regularly, often hourly, so you know where you stand (unless you are sitting). Read the tournament rules when you get your packet and before play. If you hit a big one and the writers have been courteous (they have always been courteous to me at The Cal) and given you good service, a gratuity is in order upon a decently sized win.

Most important! If you also plan to play non-tourney tickets let the writers know which is which (tournament or not) when handing in your tickets.

Some fun and definitions for keno players:

King = 1 number circled; Deuce = 2; Way Ticket = multiple tickets played on the same blank; Borg Ticket = 9-spot king ticket where you just play the seven spots (there are 36 of them) trying to hit 7 of 9; Just 1 more number = the cry of all keno players.

The 2222 ticket = great hit in deuces wild video poker but also a popular 15 way ticket where you write 4 groups of 2 making one 8, four 6s, six 4s, and four 2s, (1 + 4 + 6 + 4 = 15). An example of this is in most keno pay books.

It always seems to happen that as soon as you stop playing a group of numbers, they come up solid in the next game. Best bet is not to look at the Keno board once you have stopped playing!

Hi-Lo was a common ticket back in the last millennium but rarely played now. You can play the equivalent by using 2 or 3 separate way tickets. A Hi-Lo is an 18 way ticket, usually for 10 spots with 2 groups of 4 and a group of 4 kings; then you interchange the group of kings for the group of 4 for each possibility.

Cajones are needed to play keno, 80 of them. Have a good time at the tournament!

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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