Reader mail

September 21, 2010 7:07 AM
by

share

We received a flurry of interesting comments from readers, and I’ll get to them in a moment, with my responses where appropriate.

But, first, I’d like to thank the reader who a few weeks ago sent in a strategy for playing five spots, which entailed marking six five spots under the outside six numbers (1, 2, 3, 8, 9, 10) on the top line of the keno board.

I think that every time I’ve tried this configuration, I’ve hit at least one 5-spot in a session, and sometimes two of them. At a payoff of about 800-for-1, you won’t go home rich, but it’s a nice bump to your bankroll.

This followed the results of the reader, who said he ordinarily caught one five spot, and sometimes all six numbers would fill in, giving him six solid 5-spot jackpots!

So far, I haven’t caught all six numbers, but I’ll continue trying.

Incidentally, I often times put another pattern or two "on top" of the six 5-spots. For instance, I might mark a couple of 7-spots over the outside eight numbers, or an 8-spot over the same pattern (1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 8, 9, 10).

But I’ve never hit anything significant with the overlapping patterns. Maybe it’s the greed factor, but I’m always looking for ways to multiply the jackpots. Catching a solid 6-spot or 7-spot or even 7-of-8 on top of the six 5-spots would be sweet!

However, I’ve found that when you pile lots of patterns on top of each other (or if they overlap), the machine seems to stop dropping numbers into the cluster (this issue will be addressed further with one of the reader comments to follow).

If the reader has any suggestions about his strategy, please let me know.

Now, let’s get to the comments from avid video keno players.

David, a keno player in Las Vegas, writes: "I am an avid keno player and tried your method briefly at the Suncoast. First of all, I play 5-spots 95% of the time but occasionally play some 7, 8, 9 and 10-spots. I have never hit a 7, 8, 9 or 10-spot in the 7 years of trying. Granted, I haven’t put the amount of time in that I have for 5-spots but, nonetheless, I still was frustrated how difficult it was for me to hit.

"Every avid player has their strategies, including me, but I am always willing to try anything that might possibly work. I followed your plan step by step and after 10 minutes or so, moved the last two 9-spots on top of the first two. I reset the machine several times as you instructed and lo and behold, bam, a solid 7-spot hits in the top 9-spot. I was frickin’ amazed. It was only a penny in ($70) but it took less than 15 minutes, didn’t cost me no more than $30 to get it and the result was there as advertised.

"I am impressed. I will definitely continue to utilize your strategy and try to make some serious money if at all possible. If I discover anything else while playing that might add to your plan I will definitely let you know. Thanks, you rock."

Thanks, David, I’m glad you finally caught that 7-spot and I hope it’s the first of many more to come.

Interestingly, there were two readers who both believe the operation of video keno machines have changed. Specifically, they believe that jackpots are harder to come by, and that gaming regulators need to take a closer look at the machines to ensure they’re offering a fair game. The first opinion is from Barry.

"More and more I see these comments, from myself included, that jackpots are harder to come by. Can’t someone contact the Gaming Commission (who is suppose to be protecting us) to find out if these keno machines are really random in picking the numbers? I have played for hours and hours, seeing blocks of 8, 9 and 10 numbers come up every spin, but of course never where my block is marked."

Barry, I feel your pain, as I have also seen numbers hit all around my cards, but invariably miss me. The worst is when you move your patterns, and somehow the numbers inexplicably race into the spot you just vacated. How is that possible?

Here’s a related comment from Dave in Las Vegas.

"I’ve been complaining about this all the time. I have lived here four years, but have played for nearly 15 years, all keno. I firmly believe that the Gaming Commission will not get involved, because of the ever-changing laws on how the game plays. These casino giants and suppliers have twisted the video keno game with modern technology, which allows it to pay or not. And in order for the suppliers to sell them, they have to show just how much money the casinos can draw out of folks like you and me.

"In my four years here, I’ve had one tax slip, and that was during the first six months out here; and it was barely over the allowed for taxes. Does that say anything about how the greed of these casinos have become?

"Personally I will not promote Vegas to friends from other places. I recommend them saving the fare and room money and continue to play at their favorites afar. It’s kinda like a double edge sword because I work at casinos to make a living for my family, but on the other hand, I truly understand how folks are feeling when they don’t win every now and then, because they won’t come back. And when we moved out here, it was solely for planning for retirement and having a little fun at what we enjoy doing... playing keno. It’s no fun anymore, and they really don’t care because all they’re after is balancing their intake. And trust me folks, I’m just like the rest of you who enjoys winning a little now and then. But now it’s no longer fun; they don’t want it fair and entertaining, they care about how much you spend. I sure hope they figure this out before they walk around the floors, and see nobody’s there."

Finally, Sharon also writes about the way keno machines no longer function like keno machines.

"I have seen people win with the same pattern over and over for a period of time. Then, one day you put your numbers in the machine and it won’t go near it. You try another machine; same thing. I am wondering if it is possible that they can program the machine not to hit a certain configuration.

"My friend used to play the same 6-spot every time we went to the casino. She even told me how to play it and I would win also. Then, it disappeared and we haven’t seen it hit in years.

"Could it still be randomly selecting numbers but those numbers from before would be blocked? Could it be that they are not paying the same because the number generator has been altered? That would explain why patterns we used to win with are no longer successful."

Sharon, I think you’re on to something. My theory, based on decades of playing video keno, is that the game does NOT draw numbers at random, like a live keno game does.

Instead, the machine, based on the odds of the ticket you’ve marked, drops numbers into your pattern, based on the odds of hitting the numbers you’ve marked.

For instance, let’s use a simple pattern such as an entire column of eight numbers. Mathematically, the chances of seven numbers falling into the column are about 6200-to-1.

But if you’re playing 20-card keno and you mark eight 7-spots in that column, the machine only "sees" eight 7-spots, each of which has odds of 41,000-to-1 of hitting.

Thus, in my opinion, the computer in the keno machine will only drop in numbers based on 41,000-to-1 odds, instead of 6,200-1 odds – obviously, a lot less frequently than it should.

If that’s the case, maybe the only way to play keno is live keno, where the numbers drawn are truly random. But the game is too slow and too costly, usually with pay tables that are inferior to the machines.

I’d hate to think that computer technology has made the keno machine unplayable.