Another vote
for the 9-spot!

Jan 31, 2005 7:19 AM

I recently had the pleasure of talking to some of the family members who won about $465,000 playing video keno over a three-day period at the El Cortez.

The big hits, we reported three weeks ago, was a 10-out-of-10 progressive for over $300,000 and a nine-out-of-nine hit for over $60,000. In the future, we’ll do some story about how this endearing family loves video keno and plays all over town.

For now, one of the players indicated he likes to pursue progressive jackpots (who doesn’t?), specifically playing nine spot carousels.

I thought the comments were interesting because I’ve always supported playing the nine spot, even though there’s a better chance to hit some of the smaller cards.

For instance, players who are content to play for modest jackpots without a lot of outlay are often recommended to play the five- and six-spot games.

These games offer a good chance of hitting a decent payoff (about $800 and $1,600 for a solid five or six, respectively, for four quarters bet). They also have enough "lower level" payoffs — four out of five, four out of six, five out of six, etc. — to ensure there is a return of coins or credits so players aren’t simply feeding the machine.

The seven- and eight-spot games also offer good odds, especially for catching the "consolation" jackpot, which is 6-out-of-7 in the 7-spot game (which pays $400 for four quarters at odds of about 1300-1), and 7-out-of-8 in the 8-spot game (a payoff of $1,652 for four quarters at odds of about 6200-1).

Of course, the big attraction of the seven- and eight-spot, as well as the higher-number games, is the chance of hitting a lottery-like jackpot. And, isn’t that what most of us want!

Toward that end, the 9-spot game offers the best of both worlds. It offers the chance of hitting a huge payoff (for catching either eight or all nine numbers), but also holds out a decent "consolation" payoff with a 7-out-of-9 jackpot.

The 7-out-of-9 jackpot pays a very respectable $335 (for four quarters bet) at odds of about 1690-1. While the 6-out-of-7 jackpot of $400 has a smaller house edge (the odds are about 1365-1), the opportunity to hit the 8-out-of-9 jackpot might make the nine spot slightly more attractive than the seven spot.

While it’s always possible to hit a solid nine spot, most players should realistically hope to hit the 8-out-of-9 award. This one pays $4,700 for four quarters with odds of about 30,000-1.

Note that the odds of hitting the $4,700 jackpot is about 25 percent less than hitting a royal flush on a poker machine, but the payoff is a healthy seven and a half times better!

Moreover, there are casinos around town that offer a progressive jackpot for the 9-spot game, which can range anywhere from $10,000 to $50,000 and higher. Obviously, the player’s edge increases as the jackpot climbs above the standard $10,000 payout for a solid nine (on a quarter machine).

As chronicled in my book, Cluster Keno has been used to hit several 8-out-of-9 jackpots. The clusters or "zones" that were successful include an eight-number column coupled with a single, adjoining number; a solid three-by-three box; nine of 10 on a horizontal row; and a U-shaped pattern with a single number connecting two four’s. But, really, you can design your own patterns if you watch the board. Let the random smattering of clusters guide your pen.

When playing Four Card Keno, there have been several patterns that have proved successful. One of them involves playing the first nine numbers and second nine numbers on a horizontal row. Once, this method actually hit two 8-out-of-9 spots on the same row!

Another method that has worked is overlapping four 3-by-3 boxes. This often produces twin 7-out-of-9 winners, and an occasional 8-out-of-9 jackpot.

The Four Card Keno always lends itself to experimenting. But I’ve found that the best bet is to overlap your cards, as I noted a few weeks ago in the $64,000 article. This way, when the "shared" numbers hit, there is the increased likelihood of multiple payoffs. Try it with your own numbers and see what you can hit!

(L.J. Zahm is author of Cluster Keno: Using the Zone Method to Win at Video Keno. The book is available at the Gambler’s Book Shop in Las Vegas.)