Avoid losing spirals

Sep 27, 2005 12:03 AM

There are several aspects to Cluster Keno, but I would like to start with one underlying premise that has remained a foundation of my play strategy for years. And that is that video keno jackpots are most frequently won soon after the machine is "reset."

Some players like to say the machine is "cold," but I think it more appropriate to say the machine, and its internal computer program, has been "reset," meaning that the numbers from the previous game are erased, and new numbers are marked.

Note that re-setting does not mean picking new numbers; you can mark the numbers you had previously marked.

A reader of my book, Cluster Keno, recently wrote and asked whether re-setting meant asking the casino personnel to switch off the machine and re-start, or somehow open the door and re-start the computer program on the inside.

Obviously, that was not my meaning, but it might be worth trying!

Note that I don’t think it is necessary to reset the numbers after every game. But I seldom play the same numbers for more than four or five games before I re-set the machine. Also, keep in mind that many 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.

Because I don’t have any knowledge of how a keno machine operates, or what the computer program consists of, I couldn’t tell you why this seems to work. 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."

Of course, changing your method of play, that is, experimenting, is always worthwhile. But at the same time, it’s important to be consistent. By following your system, whatever that happens to be, you give yourself a chance to keep up with, if not overcome, the odds of the game. In order to make the odds work for you, it’s best to be consistent and follow your system.

Cluster basics

Anyone who has played video keno has seen how numbers form certain patterns. For instance, there are eight rows of 10 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 or more of the 10 numbers.

In addition, there are 10 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 solid 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.

A good way to illustrate the various clusters is taking a closer look at Four Card Keno. I suppose Four Card Keno can be construed as video keno’s answer to the immensely popular multi-hand video poker, such as Triple Play, five-hand, 10-hand poker and more.

Its concept is very simple: players can play up to four different keno cards on the same keno game. That is, you can mark one to four cards (you don’t have to play all four), picking any number of spots on each card. Then the game proceeds as in regular keno, with 20 numbers being drawn.

The obvious advantage is that you can cover a lot more numbers than with one card. Equally, the disadvantage is that you’re betting four cards instead of one, and the costs can mount.

I’ve noted a few popular patterns that I like to play — and have actually won with! — but Four Card Keno really lends itself to playing these clusters because so often we see our pattern, whether it be a box, an "H" or whatever, occurring next to or near our numbers.

This is where the cluster system pays off. Many long time video keno players will probably agree that numbers always seem to land right next to their chosen numbers, almost as if they had "eyes" and knew how to just miss! Well, by playing numbers in clusters that are in close proximity to each other, you are often able to catch those numbers and hit a jackpot.

Here are a couple of examples: A 10-spot player often bets the entire horizontal row, which is fine. But you can get a lot more mileage out of playing two 10-spot rows on top of each other (such as the 20’s and 30’s rows), as well as the two 10-spot cards made up of 21-25, 36-40 numbers and the 31-35, 26-30 numbers. This way you have an overlap, in which you can sometimes hit, say two seven-out-of-10, or even two eight-out-of-10 jackpots.

Similarly, I like to play two solid eight columns (vertical), such as the 3 and 4 columns, coupled with the two 8-spot cards made up of the 3, 13, 23, 33, 44, 54, 64, 74 and the 4, 14, 24, 34, 43, 53, 63, 73 numbers. Again, you have overlap, opening the possibility of "doubling up" on a six-out-of-eight or even seven-out-of-eight jackpot.

Another winning combination that has come up for me has been the overlapping 9-spots consisting of four 3 by 3 boxes. Specifically they include these four cards: 45, 46, 47, 55, 56, 57, 65, 66, 67; plus 55, 56, 57, 65, 66, 67, 75, 76, 77; plus 46, 47, 48, 56, 57, 58, 66, 67, 68; and finally, 56, 57, 58, 66, 67, 68, 76, 77, 78.

These configurations can work when you’re playing Game King’s Multi-Card Keno, as well as the aforementioned Four Card Keno.

Of course, with Multi-Card you can mark up to 20 cards, which can become expensive (especially when you play the maximum of four coins per card).

But you don’t have to mark all 20 cards. Instead, just try marking six or eight cards.

A practical way to "cover the bases" would be to take two columns, such as the "3" and "4" columns (16 total numbers) and mark six 8-spots, including both columns, the two "cross-over" patterns and the two "boxes" above and below the center line.