Figuring keno way tickets need not be difficult.
While knowing probabilities and combinations (in the mathematics sense) is quite helpful, they can be figured out as well by writing down all the possible combinations if too many. Let’s say you like 7-spot tickets (I do, especially downtown where $1 can get you up to $17,500 and 80 cents can get you up to $14,000) and want to target 7-spots in your way tickets. Simply group your ways so they add up to 7.
Let’s say you write out a ticket with groups of 3-4-3-4. Thus you have a group of 3 combining with one of 4 to make a 7-spot. Since there are two groups each of 3 and 4 you have 2 x 2 or four 7-spots. If you play the 6s and 8s, there is only a 3-3 for the 6 and a 4-4 for the 8. Thus to play the 6s, 7s, and 8s you have six total ways.
All of the downtown casinos will allow you to play them at half the regular ticket rate. You can play all six ways at $3 a ticket or $2.40 a ticket at the casinos that offer a 40 or 80 cent rate (all except two downtown resorts offer the latter).
Yes, you ignore the smaller hits, but spend a lot less per game and still benefit from partial hits. If you are afraid of a scattering of your numbers, play the two 10s that this grouping produces (3-4-3-0 and 3-4-0-3). You could even play all 14 numbers (at 50 cents as no 40 cent rate here except at the D).
Try this if at the D as they allow even 20 cents a way if the ticket comes to $2 or even a dime a way and even at their excellent (best in town for return) Deano rate as long as the total ticket cost is $2. The $2 does not have to be in one game as you can have several adding up to $2 to qualify.
From 3-4-3-4 you can play a 6, four 7s, an 8, a 10, two 11s, and a 14 either at 10 (if playing two or more games) or 20 cents a way for one game. Please be aware minimums are subject to change at any time, thus always check at the keno counter.
Over 99% of the payback on 11 and 14-spot tickets is not for the maximum hit but for the other pays on the ticket. That is 99% of the money to be paid on those tickets is distributed on the lesser pays. If feeling you may get a scattered hit why not include them when the cost is so little to play them?
Finally, if there are any readers of this column who might be interested in a keno happening get together please email me. If enough interest is shown I can ask a casino what might be possible.
Even if you are playing or staying in downtown Las Vegas, many keno lounges offer some type of low minimum way rate if playing enough ways, games or dollars on your ticket. Get to know the writers but please do not blame them for poor payoff odds, playing conditions. Let them know your concerns so they can be passed upstairs (or to wherever management has their offices) that you would like to see some changes.
For example, let them know how important a nonsmoking keno environment is or that you feel a 3% payback (there really is a ticket on the Strip that returns only 3 cents on the dollar) is woefully inadequate.
Let them know what you like, too. If they hear only negative remarks they may think you’re a sore loser. For example say, I really like the variety of special and way tickets your casino offers but want to play free of cigarette smoke. Say you like their 7-spot payout rates but why can’t you play 10 ways for a quarter instead of 50 cents a way. Get the hint?
The casino makes money on volume and happy customers. They may just see it your way (excuse the pun!). By the way, keno is not like collegiate wrestling. You need not weigh in to have your way with way tickets regardless of what you weigh. It should be like Burger King where you can have it your way regardless of what you weigh!
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. Email: [email protected]