Is it real or virtual?

Sep 5, 2006 1:20 AM

A reader last week asked whether video keno and live keno are essentially the same game. Perhaps that would be best answered by a game manufacturer, but having played both, they don’t appear to be. And, maybe, for our purposes, it’s better that they’re not the same game.

There’s an old adage in the keno lounge that states you should pick your numbers then "wait for them to come to you." Coupled with that is the admonition to never "chase" your numbers.

That’s probably good advice in the keno lounge, but it’s never worked for me at the keno machine.

I could play the same numbers over and over until my ATM card wilts from exhaustion, but have nothing — except an empty wallet — to show for it.

In fact, as an experiment, I’ve tried to play the same numbers, and it’s like blood letting: you slowly watch the life slip out of your veins, until you’re ready to yell, "Stop the bleeding!"

I’ve found that sticking with the same numbers without switching is a loser. Which would seem to make sense, if you keep in mind that the "keno" game is the brainchild of a computer software expert, whose job is to design a game that makes money for the casino.

Can you imagine IGT sending out a game, in which all it took to win the big jackpot was a little bit of patience and a resilient bank card? I don’t think so.

Another difference I’ve noticed playing video keno is the ability for the numbers to somehow fill the ticket I marked — after I’ve moved off of them! Have you ever had this happen? Does it seem like a coincidence that, no matter how long you play a row, column or box, that the numbers nearly always fill in after you vacate the premises?

One theory about why this can possibly happen is that the outcome of the keno game is determined once you hit the "start" button, and that the process of drawing the numbers is simply a "show" to simulate a keno game.

This is the methodology of the stepper slot machine, in which the reels land where they’re "told" to land by the microprocessor, after the outcome of the game is determined when the "spin reels" button is pushed.

But who really knows what’s happening, except the manufacturers, and they’re not telling!

Another reader asked about the outcome of the game is determined when the "spin reels" button is pushed.

But who really knows what’s happing, except the manufacturers, and they’re not telling!

Another reader asked about playing the smaller number games, such as 5- and 6-spot video keno, and whether they’re as attractive as the 9-spot game I described last week. Indeed, the five and six spots offer great value, and playing those games steadily will result in some nice — and relatively frequent — jackpots.

In fact, the five spot offers the best value of any keno game: The payoff of 810-1 is better than the royal flush’s payoff (800-1), but the odds of hitting a solid five are only 1550-1! Remember, the odds of hitting a royal are about 41,000-1, so this difference can be construed to mean that for every royal, you should hit 26 solid five-spots!

I tend to gravitate toward the higher number games because of simple greed: like every other imbecile in the gambling world, I’m looking for the big, lottery-like payoff! Unfortunately, they don’t have monster progressives for five- and six-spot games, not yet anyway.

One thing seems certain about video keno: the numbers don’t seem to land in perfectly symmetrical patterns, spread evenly over the board. Instead, they tend to fall in clusters or zones in certain patterns at certain times.

That’s the basis of my strategy and it seems to work. At least when the numbers cooperate!