Big tickets that hit it big!

Sep 18, 2006 4:43 AM

Robert from Las Vegas sent in a question last week, so I will try to answer it.

"Please answer a dilemma for me. What has the best odds for the gambler?

A. Picking 15 out of 15

B. Picking 12 out of 12

C. Picking 10 out of 10

"Logic tells me it’s C above, but the rewards differ. Would appreciate a response. Sorry, but I am not on the Internet."


Hi Robert,

You mention that the rewards are different on each ticket and that is true, but it is also true that the risks associated with each ticket are different as well. First, the rewards.

A couple of years ago I did an extensive computer simulation of various tickets, and it turns out that of the three tickets you mention, the 12-spot provides the largest potential pay outs (when you win) than either of the other two, with the ten-spot second and the fifteen spot third. Below are the results of 1,000 players playing 1,000 twelve-spots, fifteen-spots, and ten-spots. It is easy to see that if your motivation for playing is to hit a big winner, the 12-spot is superior, the 10-spot second and the 15-spot last.

12 SPOT 30.97%  15 SPOT  33.27% 10 SPOT 27.30%
Average $705.06 Average  $667.90 Average $721.04
Median  $601.00 Median $584.00 Median  $569.00
Highest $13,642.00 Highest $5,005.00 Highest $9,690.00
Lowest $180.00 Lowest $259.00 Lowest $160.00
Percent Win  13.10% Percent Win  8.30% Percent Win 13.80%

As for risk, the 15-spot doesn’t hold up well in this comparison, after a million games the 15-spot only has 8 percent of the players money ahead, compared with over 13 percent for the ten and the twelve. This may be counter-intuitive because the 15-spot has the highest frequency of winners (it pays small winners more often) but this does not correlate with success in Keno, it just makes you feel better. The 15-spot is better in one respect, you are less likely to lose a LOT of your bankroll quickly if you play one, whereas with the ten or the twelve you may have long dry spells without winners. I do play fifteens once in a while, there is nothing really wrong with them, and they are very similar to six-spot tickets in expectation, the size of winners produced and the frequency of wins. So if you are interested in hitting a big winner, you are probably better off sticking to tens or twelves. But which ticket is better, a ten or a twelve?

You can see from the simulations above that even though the 12-spot has a much higher house percentage (over 3.5% higher) that it still out performs the 10-spot in some important ways: The median bankroll for the player is higher after 1,000 games, the potential big winner is higher, and the potential low winner is higher. Therefor I think that in general the 12-spot is a superior bet.

Ten-spots have always been more popular than twelves, and this is partly historic, because for a time ten spots were the only tickets that you could play at Keno. There is nothing wrong with ten spots, and since the Keno matrix is an 8 x 10 there are many pleasing combinations that can be constructed with tens. But twelve spots are divisible by 2, 3, 4, and 6 so there are a multitude of great way and combo tickets you can base on your twelve spot, another reason why I like them.

The biggest problem with twelves is finding a good twelve spot pay rate. Many casinos set their 11, 12, 13, 14 and sometimes 15 spot house percentages higher than the lower number tickets, so you need to go out and find a good one. They are out there.

Thanks for reading Robert, good luck, I’ll see you in line! e-mail: [email protected] or write to this paper.