Dressing up that keno 5-spot ticket for high end pay off

May 17, 2011 6:00 AM

A 5-spot is one of my favorite tickets to play, both in tournament play and in regular day-to-day keno action. The reason is the high end pay off.

I do admit a diet of straight 5-spot tickets can get boring. So today let’s talk about a couple of ways to dress up your 5-spot.

I don’t recommend dressing up your 5-spots to make them a better ticket. In my opinion the straight 5-spot is better than a 5-spot with deuces on it.

Mathematically, the 5-spot can’t be improved. However you can dress it up to make it more fun, more entertaining to play, and that is fine as long as you realize you are paying a small price.

A 5-spot with deuces, kings, 3’s or 4’s on it has slightly less of an advantage in the long run than the straight 5. There are seven distinct partitions of a 5-spot (5, 4-1, 3-2, 3-1-1, 2-2-1, 2-1-1-1, and 1-1-1-1-1, the "king ticket.")

The first partition with multiple ways is 4-1. It has a 1-way-5, 1-way-4 and a 1-way-1 for three ways total. This ticket is usually played 1-5 and 1-4. The king is normally not played.

The charm is the simplicity and low cost. It’s possible to win something significant without hitting a solid five.

The 3-2 partition was fairly popular back in the brush game era, but these days it is rarer for some reason. Its charm is also simplicity and it’s mostly played with all three ways, 1/5, 1/3, 1/2.

The 3-1-1 partition was rarely played. Although there is a 1/5, 1/3, and 1/2 like the simpler ticket above, there are also 2/4 and 2/1, for a total of seven ways. Back in the day you would occasionally see this played for three ways as 1/5 and 2/4, an example of a "poor man’s king ticket."

The 2-2-1 partition was not unusual back in Keno’s Golden Age. It was usually played 1/5, 2/2, occasionally 1/5, 2/3, and sometimes 1/5, 1/4, 2/3, 2/2 for a 6-way ticket.

It makes sense to me to play the four no matter what else, as insurance against that 2-2 hit. A loss of a $113 winner is not a life long tragedy, but it sure is irritating.

The 2-1-1-1 partition has been one of my personal favorites. I used to play it often as 1/5 and 4/2 and produced a lot of deuce winners. In recent years though I have mostly abandoned deuce play as insupportable by mathematical reasoning, but it still is a fun ticket.

Load it up, play the 1/5, 3/4, 4/3 and 4/2 for a 12 way ticket. You will hit lots of 2’s and 3’s and a couple fours on your quest for the 5. This is also a fine example of a "poor man’s king ticket" where a deuce or a trey is substituted for one or several kings, thus cutting down on the ways and the price of the ticket.

Of course the king ticket 1-1-1-1-1 provides us with 31 ways. King tickets are fascinating to play, but expensive. This one has 1/5, 5/4, 10/3, 10/2 and 5/1. The only sensible way is sticking to 1/5 and 5/4 for a 6 way.

Well that’s it for this week, Good Luck! See you in line at [email protected]