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The answer to the question “Which is the best ticket to play” is obvious. It is the ticket that wins for you.

Seriously, players will examine a casino’s pay books and see several different pay tables for the same number of spots, all with different payouts for each catch. Short of doing the mathematical calculation for each ticket, how can you tell which ticket is the best one to play?

First of all, your goals have a bearing on the best ticket. Are you looking for small pays to keep you going until you hit a large win or do you want the very large win and are willing to sacrifice the smaller pays for a bigger win if and when it comes? Or do you strictly play percentages, opting for the ticket with the long term highest player return? Only you, the player, with perhaps help from your fellow players, friends, companions, spouses, pooches, or relatives, can decide which ticket you should play.

Today’s examples are taken from the pay book used by The Rio, Bally’s and Harrah’s, all on or near the Strip. They all use the same pay book. Our example will show possible 5-spots that are offered.

  Regular Catch All Little Extra Five 2 Bit
Catch 3 $1.00 no pay $1.00 $1.00
Catch 4 $23.00 no pay $5.00 $2.00
Catch 5 $500.00 $867.00 $600.00 $800.00

Regular 5-spot – play $2, catch 3, win $2; catch 4, win $46; catch all 5, win $1,000. Since your ticket money is already collected you may subtract the cost of the ticket to get your true win. This applies to all examples here.

Catch All Special (mark your ticket C/A). On a catch all ticket you are going for the big pay. In order to get it, you give up any smaller pays. You bet $3 for the Catch All and if all 5 of your numbers come in you win $2,600.

The next 5-spot offered is their Little Extra Five (mark your ticket LX-5). The required bet is $1.50. If you catch 3 you get your $1.50  back. Since the keno writer is handing the money to you we call it a “win” even though you paid the same amount for the ticket. This is keno terminology.

If you catch 4 of your 5 numbers you win $7.50 and if you catch all 5 numbers you win $900.

Last, they offer a ticket on their 2-Bit Menu (you must play at least 21 consecutive games to get this rate AND mark your ticket 2-bit). If you are unaware, two bits is 25 cents. As they used to say in the Old West, “Shave and a Haircut, 2 bits.”

If you catch 3 you get your two bits back. If you catch 4 you double your money for a win of 50 cents. If you catch all 5 numbers you win $200.

What should we do next? Here is one way to decide which ticket is best for you. Calculate the pays as if the tickets all cost $1, adjusting proportionally.

Thus the regular ticket pays $1, $23, and $500 for catches of 3, 4, and 5 spots respectively. Next, the 5-spot Catch All pays approximately $867 per dollar for catching all 5 numbers solid (no pay for lesser hits to finance the higher pay on the hit).

The Little Extra Five special ticket converted per dollar per play and payout comes out to a pay of $1 for hitting 3 numbers, $5 for hitting 4 numbers, and $600 for hitting all 5.

Finally, converting the 2 Bit ticket to $1 per play would return $1 for hitting 3 out of 5; $2 for hitting 4 out of 5; and $800 for hitting a solid 5.

You can write out a chart (see above) to help yourself using the various tickets as headers for each column. For each row you put the number of spots caught.

This gives you an excellent tool for comparison. Of course if you know the frequencies of each hit, you can actually calculate which ticket has the highest return. As information, you hit 3 out of 5 on the average once in 12 games, 4 out of 5 once in 84 games and a solid 5 once in 1,551 games.

These are just averages as you may have two large wins very close together or go many plays without a win. That is why they call it gambling!

Multiplying the frequencies by the payouts offered for each number of hits totaling all payouts and comparing this to how much you have to wager (sounds more sophisticated than saying bet) per cycle (a cycle is the average number of plays for a solid hit) and you can determine the ticket’s average return.

Hope this helps, put it to good use and be there when your numbers come up!

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