As virtually anyone who plays video keno has noticed, the numbers drawn by the machine quite often fall into patterns. Sometimes you’ll notice they keep filling in three or four numbers in a row or column. Sometimes you’ll recognize a pattern that looks like a box, or maybe like a hat, or perhaps a letter “T” or “L.”
Whatever the pattern, you make note of it in your head. Then you watch the numbers the machine picks each time you press the button. Lo and behold, you notice the pattern seems to keep coming up.
Even though the rows and columns where the pattern appears might change, you realize the same pattern keeps recurring all over the board. Maybe not on every draw, but it shows up frequently enough to make you wonder what’s going on.
This is likely what happened last week before one of the players at Stetson’s called me over and asked, “So what’s the deal with these machines repeating patterns anyway? Are they programmed to do that?”
This is a valid question. After all, we know random draws will produce a pattern every once in a while, but sometimes the same pattern seems to come up too frequently to be just a coincidence. It’s enough to make you think someone planned it that way.
If you look more closely at how video keno works, you’ll see that recurring patterns will statistically happen more often than you might initially expect. There are a couple of reasons for this.
One reason is the numbers themselves. There are 20 numbers drawn out of a possible 80, so 25% of the numbers on the board will be picked. With that high of a percentage being drawn, it’s far more likely to have several of the picked numbers adjoin one another than it would be to have them all land a space or two apart.
Think of it this way – if you dropped a handful of 20 quarters into a medium size box, several of them would likely land either directly next to or on top of another quarter. The chances that none of the 20 would touch one another would be pretty slim.
Also, we are programmed to recognize patterns. Our brains instinctively make order out of chaos. This makes it nearly impossible for us to ignore when three or four numbers make a pattern over and over again by being right next to each other.
This is also the reason why we don’t recognize when a pair of numbers two rows down and three rows to the left of another number keeps coming up. They’re too far away from each other for our brains to consider them part of a recurring pattern, but it happens just as often as the easily recognized three-in-a-row does.
Video keno is completely random. Just like video poker, video keno payback percentages are set in only one way – by adjusting the payouts the player gets for hitting certain winning combinations.
Under no circumstances can they be programmed to make or avoid certain patterns. They just don’t work that way. If they did, their use in a modern casino would be quite illegal.
So the next time you see a recurring pattern, start betting on it! If the random number generator keeps picking three in a column and one to the right of the bottom number, put an “L” or two on your ticket for a while and see what happens.
There’s just as much of a chance to hit a pattern as there is to hit random spots spread around the board. If the machine “wants” to keep giving you a certain pattern, then I’d suggest you take it and use it. You might just be able to take that pattern all the way to the bank!
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(NOTE: Brad Fredella is General Manager of Stetson’s Saloon and Casino in Henderson, NV.)