Chasing big scores

Sep 25, 2006 5:08 AM

This past weekend was particularly good for cluster keno. While playing Four Card Keno, I caught two solid 7-spots when eight numbers filled in overlapping sevens.

Then a few hours later, I caught 8-of-9 on one of my favorite Four Card patterns: two 9-spots in the "1" and "2" columns, which are overlapped by two 7-spots.

After I was paid off on the latter, a woman near me asked if I had ever hit the sold 9-spot, which would pay $10,0000 for four quarters bet.

Like all video keno players, I have tales to tell about hitting big jackpots, which I spared her. But it got me thinking about how difficult it is to actually catch those top awards for the high numbers.

For instance, the odds of catching 9-out-of-9 is more than 1 million to one, while hitting 8-out-of-8 numbers is about 230,000-1. Keep in mind that the odds of catching a royal flush in poker is "only" about 40,000-1.

It gets worse for the 9-spot and 10-spot games. The odds of filling a solid 9-spot card is 1,330,687-to-1, and about 8.9 million-to-1 for hitting all 10 spots. Thus, you can expect to hit one solid 9-spot for every 33 royals you line up, and one solid 10-spot for every 222 royals!

I would expect the chairs would become a little uncomfortable waiting to beat those kinds of odds.

Fortunately, you don’t have to. It’s possible — and I see it done, day in and day out — to win large jackpots without winning the top prize. That’s because the "lesser" jackpots in video keno are so substantial, that you can win big without defying prohibitive odds.

Let’s look at some examples. I often play the 9-spot card because you can hit a "royal flush-size" jackpot, about $1,100 (by playing only one quarter), by catching 8-out-of-9 numbers at odds of only 30,000-to-1, about 25 percent less than the royal’s odds. More important, the cost is only 20 percent of poker’s normal five-quarter bet.

If you do the math, you can see how these jackpots can easily approach $10,000 by upping the ante a bit. Using the same 9-spot example, a four-quarter bet produces a $4,700 jackpot for catching 8 numbers, and a $2 bet will return a healthy $9,400. Video poker players eat your hearts out!

Players have another great shot at the big bucks when they play 7-spot cards. Catching all 7 numbers, whose odds (41,000-1) are about the same as hitting a royal flush, pays a whopping 7,000-1 (the royal flush pays only 800-1!).

Once again, you don’t need a slide rule to figure that a dollar bet would win $7,000, a $2 bet returns $14,000 and so forth.

Do players actually hit these jackpots? These and more are hit every day in Las Vegas casinos. Keep plugging and playing smart.