One famous classic keno ticket is the four-way ten. This ticket, when played nowadays, is usually marked using 13 numbers, grouped 3-3-3-3-1.
In this form it is a simple, playable ticket, easy to mark and to check for winners. In essence it is a four-way nine, with an added king that works on all four ways to make tens.
In this sense the king is a field of one. It is unusual to have a field smaller than the rest of the groups on a ticket, but not unheard of.
Some years ago the security at the keno game, (the measures that were taken to prevent cheating by players and employees) consisted mainly of a locked box similar to a mail box, but made of glass or clear plastic, where the tickets were dropped before the call of the game.
In order to pay any large winners (at most games $50 or more) the box had to be unlocked and the inside ticket checked. Smaller winners were paid as a matter of efficiency according to the player’s copy of the ticket.
This is where the fun begins! Just imagine a sharper ("sharp player") playing a four way 10, marked 3-3-3-3-1. He is careful to mark his ticket in a manner such that the final group of three cannot easily be circled; it is scattered around the ticket, like the one illustrated below.
The sharper, having paid $1.20 for the ticket, hits 3-2-0-0-1, and thus wins a six out of ten for a winner of $6. The sharper, though, being a sharper, is not satisfied with this catch. He goes outside to his car, where his trunk is splendidly equipped with a keno brush and a supply of Chinese ink.
He adds a WINNING spot to one of the groups of three. He now has a catch of 4-2-0-0-1, on a ticket grouped 4-3-3-3-1. It is a mathematical quirk that a 4-3-3-3-1 is just as much a four way ten as the 3-3-3-3-1. Seven out of ten at 30 cents per way pays $45. The sharper collects his ill-gotten gains and hurries down the road.
A few days later the sharper is back, playing the same 3-3-3-3-1 four way ten. This time he hits nothing, but never fear! He goes out to the car, and adds THREE winning spots to the final group of three, and hits another $45! It is also a mathematical quirk that a 6-3-3-3-1 is just as much a four way ten as the 3-3-3-3-1 and the 4-3-3-3-1.
The next day he comes back, and although his luck is bad, his ingenuity is at an all time high! He hits nothing, but this time adds FOUR winning spots to the final three spot on his ticket. Quirky, for sure, but a 7-3-3-3-1 is without question a four way ten! Our sharper pockets another $45.
Amazingly, this is not the end of the possible manipulations. To the original 3-3-3-3-1 the sharper could add three winning spots to one group of three, and one winning spot to another group of three, for a four way ten composed 6-4-3-3-1.
Or he could add two winning spots to a group of three and add an entire group of two winning spots for a four way ten, 5-3-3-3-2-1!
Or he might, if sufficiently bold, add three winning spots to one group of three, and another three spots to another group of three, producing the four way ten, 6-6-3-3-1!
He could even add three winning spots to a group of three, and three more spots to the king group, and come up with a 6-4-3-3-3 ticket, which is also a four way ten!
The four-way ten is quirky. It is open to more manipulation than any other ticket that I have ever encountered.
In fact, I have discovered 114 different ways to mark a four way ten with 20 numbers or less. Of course, computerized keno has eliminated some of the chance that sharpies can work these kinds of scams at the keno game. But now you know some of the history.
Well, that’s it for now. Good luck! I’ll see you in line!