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One of the most frequently asked questions is what is the best strategy for “working” the video keno machine, that is, should the player pick numbers and wait for them to hit, or bounce around hoping to catch lightning in a bottle.

One underlying premise that has remained a foundation of my play strategy for years is that video keno jackpots are most frequently won soon after the machine is “reset.”

By “reset,” I mean that the numbers from the previous game are erased, and new numbers are marked ”” even though the new numbers may be exactly the same numbers that were played before!

I alluded to this before when I noted that video keno is different than live keno, in which players often mark their card and wait for the numbers to come in. I’ve found the live-game strategy has seldom, if ever, worked for me. In fact, I have tried to play the same game over and over, not touching the numbers, not re-betting, but the only results have been a long string of losing games.

I first noticed this phenomenon while playing at the El Cortez. Much to my surprise, I would hit jackpots on machines that were located on either side of a machine I was playing, often times, while waiting for a hand-pay jackpot on the center machine! At the same casino, I hit a pair of nickel keno progressives (both in excess of $6,000) by essentially playing the same numbers over and over, but resetting the machine every two or three plays.

Note that I don’t necessarily re-set the machine after every game, but I seldom play the same numbers for more than three or four games before I re-set the machine. Also, keep in mind that most times after re-setting the machine, I will mark the same numbers.

Let me give you an example. If I’m playing the solid eight numbers in the “nine column,” I may play the numbers for two or three games, then erase and mark the same column of numbers. For some reason, this sometimes leads to hitting, say, a seven out of eight jackpot, more frequently than when simply sitting on the same numbers, game after game.

If you want to know the reasoning behind this, I can only speculate. But keep in mind that the keno program was designed by an engineer who is charged with the task of creating a machine that makes money. It’s not likely they would create a game that would pay a jackpot just because you put in “enough” coins.

In fact, I’ve noticed in recent months, that some keno games go into a losing spiral the more you play the same numbers. Maybe others have noticed that, on some occasions, the numbers continue to be “bad,” that is, return little or nothing at all, no matter how long you play them. I’ve found that re-setting the machine is the only way to “stop the bleeding.”

As many of you have noticed, I’ve been writing about the new Multi-Card Keno game from IGT, which lets players bet up to 20 different cards per game.

Obviously, re-setting the machine and re-marking up to 20 keno cards can be a pain in the neck (not to mention your elbow and upper arm!), so what I’ve been trying is cashing out after a few games (most of these machines use ticket-in, ticket-out) and then inserting the ticket into the same machine and playing the same cards.

But I’ll report more on this phenomenon next week.

In the meantime, I’ll also explain about my “cluster” keno or zone system of playing. Explain about the cluster or zone strategy in your system.

Anyone who has played video keno has seen how numbers form certain patterns. For instance, there are eight rows of ten numbers on a keno screen, and if you play long enough, you’ll see that most of the eight rows eventually hit seven or even eight of the ten numbers.

In addition, there are ten columns of eight numbers, and during the same session you might note that several columns line up seven of the eight. Occasionally, all eight will fill up. The key is being there when they do ”” and re-setting the machine frequently has been a method to do so.

Other clusters that I’ve found have paid off include sold eight boxes, two by four boxes, either above or below the center line, and three-by-three boxes of nine numbers, again marked above or below the center line.

You’ll find a whole series of clusters in my book. Of course, if you have clusters or patterns that have worked for you, please let me know about them!

(L.J. Zahm is the author of, “Cluster Keno: Using the Zone System to Win at Video Keno.” For a copy, send $19.95 to Cluster Keno, P.O. Box 46303, Las Vegas, NV 89114. Or pick up a copy at the Gamblers Book Shop in Las Vegas.)


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