Try a little 4-play!

May 2, 2005 2:31 AM

One of the enjoyable aspects of playing Four Card Keno is experimentation. Unlike regular video keno, where you just mark your card, hit the start button and pray to the keno gods, you can try various combinations with Four Card Keno.

In case you’ve never tried it, Four Card Keno gives the player the options of playing one to four cards during one keno game.

Most novices see this as an opportunity to cover up to half the board (40 numbers) by marking four different 10-spot tickets.

While this makes for plenty of "sound action," that is, you’ll hear a lot of hits, they are most likely spread out fairly evenly over the 40 numbers, with many tickets falling short with 3-for-10 and 4-for-10 hits.

I’ve found that a better way is to mark a smaller group of numbers, since it seems that the numbers seem to arrive in clusters or zones. This theory is expanded in my book, Cluster Keno, but I can give a short course here.

If you’re still interested in playing 10 spots, with the hopes of catching a nice 8-for-10 or even the elusive 9-for-10 and 10-for-10, I’ve found that you have more of a chance if you mark four 10 spots over, say, 20 numbers. Obviously, there will be overlap, but this can be a good thing. Especially when two, three or all four cards hit a jackpot simultaneously!

As I’ve pointed out in the past, one of the clusters I like to play is marking an entire row (10 numbers) as well as the row above or below it.

Then I mark the first five numbers of the top row, coupled with the last five numbers of the second row (for the third 10-spot); and the last five numbers of the top row with the first five numbers of the bottom row (for the fourth 10-spot).

It is marking these kinds of clusters which I think makes for some real fun. Especially, when the numbers work their way (in clusters!) to your cards.

This past week, I’ve been experimenting with some very "tight" clusters. That is, I’ve been marking four cards on a very small group of numbers.

Specifically, I’ve been marking four 7-spot tickets on the same 10 numbers (see illustration).

The theory behind this is that for any given 10 numbers, it’s reasonable to assume that seven of 10 and even eight of 10 will pop up every so often. And, since you have a bunch of 7-spots marked, it’s very likely that you’ll catch at least one 6-of-7 spot, if not the solid 7-spot.

Of course, it can also happen that you won’t catch any, and that hitting seven of 10 could get you just a couple of 5-for-7 payoffs. But that’s the risk you have to take. Remember, you have to be lucky sometimes.

Well, over the course of a week or so, I had a tremendous amount of 6-of-7 payoffs. Because you’re playing four games at a time, you’re not winning the same amount as you would if you’re playing just one card.

But I think the trade-off is worth it. You should be able to win money during these sessions, although not as much as if you were playing just one card. But remember, you’re hitting a lot more 6-of-7’s as well.

In fact, during one session, I think I hit about seven or eight 6-of-7 jackpots. Only once was I able to get eight of the 10 numbers to land on my row, but instead of catching a 7-for-7, I was "stuck with" four 6-of-7’s.

Like I said, sometimes you just have to be lucky.