20-spot keno

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Here’s something from the mail bag that I thought other keno players might find interesting. It’s from Steve, who wants to know about 10-spot keno tickets.

Read more Keno Lil articles.

Hello Keno Lil!

“My sister and I travel from Michigan to Vegas twice a year. We love to play keno at the Orleans. We usually play a 20-spot game that pays for hitting 0, 1, 2 or 3 numbers, skips 4, 5 and 6 numbers and begins paying again for 7 numbers or better. I’m sure you know the game. We really love it, but have seldom won much playing it. We have each hit “0” numbers and won $250 ($2.50 bet), but I have never hit more than 10 numbers on the high end (in 10 years!)

My question for you is this: What do you think of that 20-spot game? Would I be better off playing my $2.50 on a way-ticket? I’ve never played a way-ticket and don’t know how to do it even after reading your articles! What do you suggest?” Thanks! – Steve

Hello and thanks for writing! The 20-spot ticket was invented to accomplish a couple of things for the keno game, and that was to increase the average ticket price of tickets sold at that game. Higher average ticket prices means that the keno game can show a profit, or be more profitable than it could if the average ticket price was lower.

There is actually a break even average ticket price for every keno game; it varies but it is at least $2 a ticket or so for most games these days. So in reality if you walk into a keno game and play a dollar ticket the keno game is probably losing money on your action whether you win or not!

The 20-spot was also designed to produce a high frequency of small wins, thus it keeps the player in the game for longer periods. This is also an advantage for the game, as the 20-spot player is playing an above average cost ticket for a longer period.

This benefit to the game however is less clear than the high ticket price, as players who play expensive tickets for a longer time tend to want (and deserve) a higher level of comps, whether it be drinks, food, lodging etc.

The problem for the player is of course the ticket was designed to benefit the house, not the player. As you have noted it is pretty easy to get a playback or a small winner on the ticket, but it can be very hard to win a large amount of money. I don’t play tickets like the 20-spot (or the Sweet Sixteen, or other similar tickets) for this reason.

The only exception is if I am out for some pure fun, perhaps sitting at a keno bar and having a few drinks and maybe watching a ball game. The 20-spot makes an excellent “bar ticket” because its price will encourage the keno game to kick down some drink tokes, usually, and if you have some luck you will hit some small winners to cover your action. In short, it’s fine to play a 20-spot just for fun but not to really try to hit a big winner.

A way ticket may be simply understood as playing multiple straight tickets on one piece of paper. For instance, a 3-way-6 composed of three groups of three, 1-2-3, 11-12-13 and 21-22-23 can be played on one ticket. It could also be played on three separate tickets:


1-2-3-21-22-23 and


Way tickets are written that way for convenience as a way to avoid having to write all three tickets but a way ticket has no effect on the odds of the game.

So to answer your question, well if you want to be “better off” in terms of a chance of winning a large amount of cash, play your $2.50 on a 5-way-8 or 5-way-9 maybe or on several straight eights or sevens, but of course you won’t win as often as you do on the 20-spot. If you are happy with winning $250 or so just keep playing the 20-spot. It is your personal preference that matters.

That’s it for this week, good luck, see you in line! [email protected].

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