March (machine) madness

Mar 6, 2006 2:30 AM

Thanks for the nice note from Bob in Las Vegas, who shared his experiences playing Four Card Keno. It seems he experienced some of the same "clustering" problems that I had alluded to in a previous column, specifically how the numbers form "my" pattern to the immediate left and right of the numbers I’ve marked.

I think readers may benefit from hearing about his experiences. Bob writes:

I almost always play 4-Card-Keno and my favorite 6-spot, 6-7-8-9-17-19. Believe it or not, I hit a solid 6-spot just about every time I play; then I have been playing an additional three 6-spot quick picks. I usually hit once each session playing this, too.

But, lately, I’ve noticed that when I play my favorite 6-spot, the 9 and 10 columns seem to get a lot of hits. So, naturally, I decided to put my 6-spots in those two columns. Again, I did hit an occasional 6-spot, but there were still more numbers coming out in those columns.

I switched to 8-spots in those two columns and still was getting 5 or 6 numbers each and every time, but never a 7 or 8.

I also played this strategy on the 20-card keno machines, and never even came close. The pattern did not continue on the 20-card machine, but it happens every time on the 4-Card Keno machine.

If I try to put all four of my cards in the 9 and 10 columns, nothing much happens. It’s only when I play my favorite 6-spot.

This is interesting, Bob, as well as perplexing, especially when we "think" we start to see a pattern emerge, then it seems to evaporate into cyberspace.

The only thing that ever helps "break" the pattern is re-setting, which I’ve alluded to many times.

Lately, I’ve even varied the method of re-setting: from simply moving to the menu page and coming back to the keno game, to cashing out a ticket and starting all over.

Generally, by "reset," I mean the numbers from the previous game are erased, and new numbers are marked — even though the new ones are exactly the same numbers as before!

By contrast, I’ve found the live-game strategy has seldom, if ever, worked for me. In fact, I have tried to play the same numbers over and over, and not re-betting, but the only results have been a long string of losing games.

I don’t necessarily reset the numbers after every game, but I seldom play the same numbers for more than three or four games before I re-set the machine.

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.

As for technical support for this phenomenon, I can’t give it to you. 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.

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."

Some keno players may scoff at this, but they should have something else that works for them. In any case, I think that being consistent is the key.