More ways to stretch your keno dollars

Oct 3, 2005 1:39 AM

What is the most correct strategy for keno play if we’re working on a short bankroll, say $10? Are certain tickets better than others in this event? With this series of columns we’ll attempt to find an answer to this inquiry.

When I ran a Monte Carlo simulation of 5-spots played on a short bankroll, the result was an average win of $7.16 out of a $10 investment, about what we’d expect.

For the purposes of the simulation, I created a 5-spot with payouts of $1, $9, and $811.10 for catches of 3, 4, and 5 respectfully to match the house percentage of our benchmark 6-spot, 28.4 percent. Although you can’t play this exact ticket in the real world, you can, if you look, find a few 5-spot pay rates that are even better.

We hit:

3 out of 5: 839,461 times

4 out of 5: 121,030 times

5 out of 5: 6,436 times.

Statistically, 72,426 players out of 1,000,000 won $10 or more, thus breaking even or better. The odds against breaking even are about 13.8-to-one when playing a 5-spot with a short ($10) bankroll. In addition, 6,436 players won $100 or more, thus increasing their bankroll tenfold or more. The odds against this were 155.38 for one. No players won $1,000 or more.

The good news is that we’re roughly twice as likely to break even by playing the 5-spot with a $10 bankroll than playing the 6-spot or the 8-spot. The truth is this is because of the $9 payout on the 4/5 catch.

The bad news is that we are four or five times less likely to win a C-note or more by playing the 5-spot than the 6- or 8-spots we’ve discussed the last few weeks — and no chance of winning $1,000 or $10,000.

Just as the payout structure on the 5-spot makes it look good in the $10 range, the same configuration (a max pay out of $800 or so) makes it look bad in the $1, 000.00 range. So the best choice so far on a short bankroll is the 8-spot.

Alternatively, if you can find a special rate 5-spot that pays $7 for a 4/5 and $1,000 for a solid five, 6,321 players win $1,000 or more, five times better than the six or the eight.

Alternatively, $100 winners are reduced to about 6,000, and $10 winners are reduced to under 12,000. It’s quite a tradeoff that may be beneficial if your only goal is to win a grand. If all you want to do is win a grand, do it! Otherwise, stick to the 8-spot.

Keno Lil doesn’t play keno to break even. You understand that I am devoted to 5-spots (when played with an appropriate bankroll), but in this case (playing on a $10 bankroll) the 5-spot just doesn’t make it. I don’t know how to say this in a ladylike fashion, but here goes: On a short bankroll, the 5-spot really creates a vacuum!

On a scale of one to five spikes, with five being the highest, Keno Lil rates the regular rate 5-spot played on a short bankroll:


But if your only goal is to win $1000.00, and you can find that special rate 5-spot, I’ll have to rate it:



Here is a summary of our results so far:

WIN $10 $100 $1,000 $10,000

Five 72,426 6,436 0 0

Five S 11,624 6,321 6,321 0

Six 33,135 32,147 1,289 0

Eight 38,708 25,336 1,632 46

Well, that’s it for now. Good luck! I’ll see you in line!