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Keno players are always looking for the largest win for the smallest possible investment. The problem is if you want to win big you have to either play the longer odds tickets (great number of spots) or play more on the shorter odds tickets.

Is there a better way?

Ten-spot wins are very rare, but they have happened from time to time. Nine spots are a little better but still very long odds at over a million to 1. Thus, except as part of a way ticket, many authors and this columnist suggest playing eight spots or less.

The reason for playing them on a way ticket is your hits may be scattered all over your groups, so if you play 4-4-4 in an attempt to hit a SOLID 8 (there are three ways to do this) you will hit 8 scattered much more often than the SOLID 8. And, if you hit 8-of-12 it is a decent payout in most places.

The odds of catching 8-of-8 are 230,114 to 1, which makes it doable, though the odds are somewhat long. This may be the reason casinos like the 8-spot for progressives. It is rare enough to give the progressive a chance to rise substantially, gaining player interest, while on the other hand, not so impossible the casino cannot advertise it getting hit a few times a year.

The Orleans and some of the other Coast Casinos have a highly successful 8-spot progressive for $2 and a good playing atmosphere. The Peppermill in Reno has an excellent 9-spot progressive for those readers in the Reno area. But as you can see, few hit an 8-spot (this author has not).

Thus we need a ticket that gives a nice payout with a more realistic chance of winning. Of course, as discussed in prior columns, by playing way tickets you can increase your chances of hitting an 8-spot, depending on how many ways and what you can afford to play.

My suggestion is the 7-spot in casinos that skew the payouts to the higher number of hits. The 7-spot has odds of 40,978 to 1. While far from easy it is definitely doable (I have done it twice, once on a way ticket and once on a multi-game straight ticket).

The pay scale for the 7-spot, especially at some downtown casinos, is excellent. The D pays $17,500 on what used to be called the Shamrock rate when it was Fitzgerald’s. They have a different name for it now but they still have it.

The Cal pays $16,000 for a SOLID 7-spot with very good comps for players and great tournaments. The Pop 80 rate, available at many downtown casinos, pays $14,000 for playing only 80 cents per ticket. That is equivalent to $17,500 for the standard $1 ticket.

The El Cortez pays $10,000 for their $1.15 rate. I mention this because they pay on hits of three or more with an overall return of over 86%, excellent for keno. You can also have an excellent return at the D by playing their Deano rate (formerly Truly Special rate), which pays the equivalent of $17,500 for a dollar and also starts paying at 3-of-7 for a return of 85%.

The Golden Nugget, which has the most comfortable keno chairs of anywhere in Vegas, has a $1.25 rate that pays $15,000 for a 7-of-7. The Fremont also offers the $1.25 rate and pays $15,000 for a 7-of-7.

The Five & Dime Keno rate at many Station Casinos pays $1,500 for just 10 cents for a 7-out- of-7 although you do not get paid for a hit less than 6-spots at this special rate. Of course check out the intermediate pays to see if you feel the ticket is worthwhile to you.

For those of you playing away from downtown, Sam’s Town offers $12,000 for a 7-of-7 with pays starting at 3-of-7. They also offer the Pop 80 rate with $14,000 for a 7-of-7 on an 80-cent bet. Harrah’s, Flamingo, Bally’s, The Quad, and Rio offer $3,000 for only 25 cents (21 game minimum).

I am sure if you shop around you will see other nice pays for a SOLID 7-of-7. Thus, I suggest 7-spots for those who want to get a very nice hit without very high odds.

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 [email protected].

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