When I moved to Las Vegas in 1997 (geez, has it been that long?), the game of choice for me was blackjack.
As a Vegas tourist I would set aside $1,000 spending money, spend 5 or 6 days solo at either the Stardust, Bally’s or Tropicana (I did stay at MGM Grand on a two-person junket) and plan my attack.
Since then I gravitated away from “21” and on to more affordable games. I learned quickly you have to treat Vegas a lot differently when a resident as opposed to a tourist.
Craps has become my most exciting way to gamble, but again you can lose your shirt in a matter of moments if stuck at a $10 or higher minimum table. (I much prefer a $3 minimum).
For the most part, I stay away from the casino floor and opt for local lounges where video poker and keno are the prevalent games of choice.
I do a lot of switching between bonus poker, double double bonus, deuces wild and shockwave, but find the most reasonable game to play, economically, is Caveman Keno.
Oh, I have done regular keno and on rare occasion 4-card because the payouts are higher, but Caveman is my favorite.
What I like about Caveman is the ability to play eight numbers, hit three and get a free play. On regular keno you aren’t afforded that luxury. To compensate, regular keno pays 2-for-1 on four numbers hit instead of even money.
Also, certain machines allow you to play Caveman for 10 cents and even 5 cents as opposed to regular keno, which is 25 cents minimum wager.
Again, your payments are higher in regular keno, but Caveman offers staying power, which is what I like. That way your $20 in the machine can last quite a while and it becomes a much more relaxing experience, especially at a bar where there are numerous distractions.
As for strategy, again I prefer 8 numbers with Caveman because of the 3 hit, free play reward. Also in Caveman you are offered the opportunity to see the value of your hits multiply by 4 and 10 times depending on the number of eggs (2 or 3) turning into dinosaurs.
There are versions of Caveman such as Cleopatra Keno where the eggs crushed use multipliers of 4 and 8 times the payout. And then there is a version of Cleo where you can qualify for a 12-free-games bonus if selected numbers are hit.
The best I’ve ever done at Caveman is hit 7-of-7 (18, 28, 38, 48, 58, 68, 78) for something like $500. A couple of times in regular keno I hit 8-of-9 and 7-of-7 winning a little more than $1,000. But those victories are few and far between.
That’s just like playing the Buffalo penny slot game and winning $540 only to return the next day and give $100 back. Before you know it, that big win is gone in a week.
As for where to play, I’ll simply say off-Strip casinos and lounges seem to have a better win rate, at least for me. Email me if you want to know which ones. I like secrecy.
Mark Mayer has over 35 years covering sports events and is the sports editor at GT. Reach him at [email protected].