Stop the bleeding!

Aug 28, 2006 4:22 AM

Thanks to all the readers who take the time to send or email their comments. It’s nice to know there are other video keno junkies out there!

Last week, I got a note from Monique, who said she plays a lot of Four Card Keno, but that lately the machines at a local’s casino have been "absolutely dead."

She adds, "The machine behaves as if it’s in a mode that it can’t break out from. For instance, I play my patterns on the top two rows and no matter how long I play, or how much I shove into the machine, it simply won’t land numbers into my patterns.

"Meanwhile — and this could be over the course of a few hours — similar patterns on all the other rows hit over and over again. I know that if I move my numbers, then the hits will rush into the patterns I just vacated. What’s a person to do?"

I feel your pain, Monique, because I’ve noticed the same thing. It’s kind of frightening to think the machine can slip into a "no payoff" mode, as one reader alluded to several months ago.

My suggestion is to keep playing your normal method and use your regular patterns as a foundation to keep playing. Then, if hit the "minor jackpots," such as 6-of-7, 7-of-9, 6-of-8 or 7-of-10, then cash out and move to another machine.

That would also be my suggestion if the machine appears dead: move to another machine.

The mistake is sometimes made to play off all your credits after you’ve hit one of these payoffs, in hopes of cashing in on the larger score. The problem is you’ll end up losing what you’ve gained and leave the casino frustrated. That’s no fun.

Another suggestion is to shoot for some smaller jackpots. If you haven’t been able to hit the solid seven for awhile, drop down to a six- or a five-spot. I’ve experienced the same lull and have had success dropping down. There’s nothing wrong winning two or three hundred, even though you had hoped to hit the thousand or two.

Know your pay table!

I received another note last week that told of video keno machines that had drastically altered pay tables. Until I have a chance to investigate, I won’t mention the casino involved or the type of machine cited.

But here is the account, which hopefully may alert readers to the possibility that video keno pay tables may vary from casino to casino, even if they are on the same kind of machine.

"My friend loves to play keno machines ”¦ and she has hit 7 of 8 few times, which pays close to $400 with one 25¡ credit.

"Early one morning we were at (another casino) where she decided to play keno. Over the past few weeks she has invested over $500. She started with $20 and a short time later, almost out of credits, she hit 7 of 8 while playing two quarters per card. Expecting a payout of close to $800 the machine only paid $125 on two quarters.

"To make it short, the payout on quarters is $125 for 7 of 8 and $175 for 8 of 8 with two coins bet. But the amazing part is the payout on hitting 10 of 10 with two quarters is $200!

"We had the technician and slot manager over and they all said the payout is on the machine and it is up to the customers to choose which machine they want play.

"Not happy with their explanation, we asked for gaming agent. After a couple of hours a young lady showed up. Her response was basically the same: the casino has the right to post any pay scale as long as it was paying the proper percentage. I asked her wasn’t it a little strange that a jackpot of 8 of 8 and 10 of 10 only pays couple hundred dollars? Their reasoning is that on the payback on 5 of 8 pays more than other machines and that justifies the lower jackpot.

"They already made it clear that my friend will not be compensated for the lower payout. How would you feel if you hit 7 of 8 or 8 of 8 and expecting a big jackpot instead settle for couple hundred dollars?"

I’d feel horrible. The odds of hitting 8 out of 8 is about 230,000 to 1, and to be paid a paltry $175 for two quarters (a payoff of only 350-1) is borderline criminal. Ordinarily that payoff would be $5,000!

All I can say is be sure to check the pay tables before playing. I’ve never seen a keno machine with such a poor table. But I’ve seen machines in general, usually in oddball places such as motel lounges and the like, where the machines have drastically altered pay tables.

But the lesson is this: always check the pay table before playing, even if the machine looks like one you’re accustomed to playing.