Those ‘minor’ jackpots add up nicely

Aug 1, 2005 4:19 AM

One of the reasons we video keno fanatics enjoy playing the game so much is the possibility of hitting a lottery-like jackpot, of course.

But the nature of the game isn’t "all or nothing," so it’s also possible to hit a series of smaller incremental jackpots that can add up to a nice profit.

The latter is a good way to ensure leaving with more money than when you started playing, plus there’s always the real possibility that you will hit the big one.

In recent weeks, hitting the "big one" in the form of a series of solid 7-spots has been in the spotlight — as well it should. But this week, let’s look at a few strategies geared toward pumping up your credit meter and raking in a few bucks along the way.

First, if your goal is to rack up the credits, I suggest playing either a 8-, 9- or 10-spot keno. This way, you have a chance of accumulating catches such as 6-of-8, 6-of-9, 6-of-10, 7-of-10 or even an occasional 7-of-9, which will all contribute greatly toward your goal of cashing out the machine with a profit.

Because there are so many readers well-versed in video poker, let me compare the chances of catching some of these minor payoffs with comparable (odds-wise) poker jackpots.

Starting with the 8-spot keno ticket, catching six of your numbers will reward you at the rate of 98-1 ($98 for $1 bet). The odds of catching six of eight numbers are 422-1.

Sharp video poker players will notice that those odds are nearly identical to the 423-1 that must be overcome to catch four-of-a-kind on a Jacks or better machine.

However, the poker payoff is only 25-1 (125 credits for five quarters bet). Obviously, the video keno pot has a much smaller house advantage.

Turning to the 9-spot keno ticket, we find that the odds of catching 7-of-9 numbers are about 1690-to-1, but the payoff is a generous $335 for $1 bet.

A comparable poker jackpot would be the four 2’s, 3’s and 4’s on a Bonus Poker machine, which has odds of about 1900-to-1. However, poker players are rewarded with only 40 credits for each coin bet. That’s quite a disparity with the keno payoff.

Finally, let’s take the 7-of-10 video keno jackpot, which pays 142-to-1 at odds of about 620-1. Once again, those odds are very close to the 609-1 that comes with catching four 5s-through-kings in Bonus Poker. However, the payoff for catching those quads is only 25-1, far below the keno payoff.

I haven’t gone through the mathematical gyrations (we haven’t sunk that low), but I tend to like playing the 9-spot because there should be enough 6-of-9 catches to keep you going while waiting for that 7-of-9 jackpot, or the lucrative 8-of-9 award (this pays 4700-to-1!).

Pictured are several of my favorite 9-spot clusters, but you can choose any pattern you happen to like.

After choosing a pattern, I play the machine for only a few games before resetting.

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!

Of course, I may also move the pattern around, but I don’t usually do this until it seems apparent, after say, half a dozen games, that the numbers aren’t coming close to hitting.

This notion of continually resetting the machine became apparent 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 by essentially playing the same numbers over and over, but resetting the machine frequently.

I am often asked the theory behind resetting the numbers on the machine. Actually, I don’t have a theory based on engineering knowledge. 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 for the casino. It’s not likely they would ever create a keno game that would pay a jackpot just because you put in "enough" quarters.

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."

If you take the time to watch the keno screen, noting the patterns that form, you will probably see all four of these patterns fill up. That’s not to say they’ll fill up when you’re playing the numbers! But, eventually, the numbers will fall into place.

The trick is having them marked when they do. And re-setting the machine frequently has been a method that seems to work.