‘Novelty’ games are amusing diversion

May 7, 2007 5:44 AM

As I’ve described in previous articles, I tend to spend a lot of time playing the multi-card keno games, Four Card Keno and Multi-Card Keno (also known as 20-card keno).

Actually, because of the increased action, it’s often difficult to return to standard, single-card keno machines.

I suppose it’s similar to video poker, in which the multi-hand games, starting with Triple Play and higher, offer so many more possibilities than standard video poker.

There are also a couple of "novelty" keno games that I like to play, simply as a diversion from my standard games.

I’ll describe a couple of them here. One of them is Bally Technologies Keno Plus machine whichshould satisfy any keno enthusiast. In addition, IGT’s Game King features a variety of keno games as well as multi-denominational play.

One of the most amusing games I’ve ever played can be found on the Bally Keno Plus, called Triple Trouble. The concept behind this keno game is that you pick your numbers in the standard manner, choosing up to 10 spots, as you would in a standard game.

But the game features a bonus round that kicks in when three of the famous Bally "Devils" appear on screen (all three have to pop up in order to enter the bonus round). During the three ensuing, automatic games (you can’t re-set your numbers once the bonus round kicks in), all payoffs are tripled.

To compensate for the possibility of paying back "too much" to the player, the pay tables on many of the rewards are reduced.

Nevertheless, it makes for some exciting play when the red devil comes up and you have a shot at some lottery-like payoffs during those three games.

The only time I’ve been able to hit anything of significance playing Triple Trouble was when I caught 7-of-8 numbers during the bonus round for a payoff of $4,800 (three times the standard 7-of-8 payout of $1,600).

This was on a quarter machine with four (maximum) coins bet.

The only other jackpots I’ve ever hit during the Triple Trouble bonus round have been 7-of-10, 7-of-9 and 6-of-7. Not bad, but nothing in the "high rent" district.

Another keno variation that has developed quite a following is Caveman Keno, which is among the choices on IGT’s Game King. In addition to its molar-rattling sound effects, Caveman Keno features a novel screen with prehistoric volcanoes, dinosaurs, a blond-haired prehistoric man, and — hopefully for the player — dinosaur eggs.

The eggs are the key, and they function in much the same manner as the red devils in Bally’s Triple Trouble.

Here’s how the game works: The player chooses from 2-10 spots, just as in regular keno. The computer will then draw three numbers at random (among those that the player did not pick). These three numbers will be marked with a dinosaur egg.

The game proceeds with the machine pulling 20 numbers, and the outcome depends on his catches.

If the player has hit enough spots to win something, that award is multiplied by a factor depending on whether the egg numbers match the 20 numbers chosen.

The multiplying factor is 1 if the number of egg matches is 1 or less, 4 if two eggs match, and 10 if all three eggs match.

Thus, the bonus feature is similar to the devils in Triple Trouble, but you don’t need all three to appear in order to gain a multiplier.

As with Triple Trouble, the pay tables are reduced to compensate for the possibility of a high multiplier. But you also get an even money payback for hits such as 3-out-of-7 and 4-out-of-10, which normally don’t have any return.

Note that with a multiplier of 10X, the jackpots can reach into the thousands of dollars for four quarters bet, but you need all three eggs to be hit (at odds of about 72-1; two of three eggs has odds of about 7-1), and the "egg numbers" are chosen exclusive of the numbers you pick, which makes it a little more difficult to hit a high catch plus the three eggs on the same draw.

The only other keno variation that I’ve played with any semblance of regularity is the 3-6-9 Way Ticket game, which is found on both the IGT and Bally machines.

Like any other kind of way ticket, the 3-6-9 game allows for hitting many small payoffs with the possibility of hitting multiple medium jackpots. The abundance of minor awards allows for playing a longer period of time, but you seldom have a shot at some huge awards (which is the reason most of us are attracted to keno in the first place!).

Here’s the reason: In the 3-6-9 game, you’re playing seven coins per game, but never do you ever have four coins bet on one card. Thus, if you ever hit the top payoff, say 9-of-9, you will have done it with only one coin bet (even though you were betting seven coins).

Of course, if you hit 9-of-9, you will also have hit three solid 6 spots and three solid 3 spots, as well. But the jackpot still would not be as much as hitting a solid 9 spot with four coins bet.

Nevertheless, playing the 3-6-9 way ticket is fun, and you will frequently hit the minor payoffs, including the 7-of-9, which hopefully brings along with it a solid 6-spot from the three that are available.

In playing 3-6-9, you basically mark three 3-spots (noted by A, B and C on the screen). The combination also results in three 6 spots (A+B, A+C and B+C) and one 9-spot (A+B+C).

You can spread the numbers out, put them in rows or columns or create boxes, but I’ve had the most success playing a simple 3 by 3 box. Here’s a hint though: Mix the A, B, and C numbers up so you don’t have three A’s across the top, three B’s in the center and three C’s across the bottom of the box. The numbers rarely "come in" that way, and you can hit more solid 3 spots, which helps to keep your credits up.

Here’s the reason: In the 3-6-9 game, you’re playing seven coins per game, but never do you ever have four coins bet on one card. Thus, if you ever hit the top payoff, say 9-of-9, you will have done it with only one coin bet (even though you were betting seven coins each game).

Of course, if you hit 9-of-9, you will also have hit three solid 6 spots and three solid 3 spots, as well. But the jackpot still would not be as much as hitting a solid 9 spot with four coins bet.

Nevertheless, playing the 3-6-9 way ticket is fun, and you will frequently hit the minor payoffs, including the 7-of-9, which hopefully brings along with it a solid 6-spot from the three that are available.

In playing 3-6-9, you basically mark three 3-spots (noted by A, B and C on the screen). The combination also results in three 6 spots (A+B, A+C and B+C) and one 9-spot (A+B+C).

You can spread the numbers out, put them in rows or columns or create boxes, but I’ve had the most success playing a simple 3 by 3 box, just like in the Four Card Keno. Here’s a hint though: Mix the A, B, and C numbers up so you don’t have three A’s across the top, three B’s in the center and three C’s across the bottom of the box. The numbers rarely "come in" that way, and you can hit more solid 3 spots, which helps to keep your credits up.