Know paytables!

September 25, 2007 1:45 AM
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There’s no doubt that the most popular keno machine in town is IGT’s Game King, which features a variety of keno games and options.

My favorite games are Four Card Keno and Multi-Card Keno (aka 20-card keno) because I think they have the best payoffs. Also popular are games such as Caveman Keno, Power Keno and Cleopatra Keno. These can be fun to play, but always check the paytables to make sure you’re getting the "right" price if you catch a nice win.

For instance, too many players are stunned when they finally hit 8-out-of-8, only to discover they’re paid $2,000 instead of the proper $10,000.

In Las Vegas, the best places to find these machines are at the casinos that cater to locals. These include Coast Casinos, Station Casinos, Arizona Charlie’s, Sam’s Town, Ellis Island, most of the casinos along the Boulder Strip, North Las Vegas and in downtown Las Vegas.

The two keno games that have become wildly popular in Las Vegas are the aforementioned Four Card and Multi-Card Keno. In the former, a player can select and bet four different cards per game, while he can play up to 20 different cards per game playing the latter.

For keno players, these games are similar to the Triple Play and multi-hand games that have swept video poker in recent years.

Obviously, multiplying your bet four and 20 times can become expensive, so there must be a prudent strategy in place. That’s where my "Cluster Keno" concept comes into play.

Essentially, the Cluster Keno approach is to mark keno cards in specific zones or patterns in hopes of catching the right numbers when they fall into your zone.

The theory is based on the simple premise from which any avid keno player will testify. That is, numbers often fall just outside of our marked pattern. This prompts cries of frustration that "if only" the number could have landed just one or two spaces over.

I’d like to cite an example of this theory put into practice week with the success a close friend of mine experienced over a four-day stretch playing Game King machines at Palace Station.

Without being too specific, my pal hit seven $1,900 jackpots playing Multi-Card Keno using one of my favorite patterns: two sets of eight 7-spots, overlapped with four groups of 8-spots. The only thing lacking was catching all eight of the 7-spots, which would have paid $11,000!

The amazing part of this run was hitting a couple of the awards, which included catching seven numbers in the group of eight 7-spots, nearly back-to-back.

One of the awards, in fact, occurred within five minutes of the first. The other one took a little longer, about 45 minutes to hit.

In each case, my friend said the machine didn’t "behave" like it was all done paying off. The hits seemed to come pretty consistently, unlike the slowdown that often occurs after a large jackpot has been hit.

I’ve used this cluster in the past. It includes the 16 numbers contained in the "3" and "4" columns. Under these numbers he marked four 8-spots, and two sets of eight 7-spots.

In his case, the group of eight 7-spots are contained in the "cross-over" numbers — the four on the top left coupled with the four on the bottom right, along with four on the bottom left coupled with the four on the top right.

In the past, I’ve also used the "3" and "4" columns and the two-by-four boxes above and below the center line for the 7-spots.

The $1,900 wins occurred when seven of the eight numbers in the cross-over pattern fell into place. This created one solid 7-spot winner of $1,400 coupled with seven 6-out-of-7 winners at $80 each.

My friend also wanted me to point out that he likes to cash out frequently and start a game over. I call this "re-setting" the machine and, for whatever reason, it does seem to help kick-start a machine that might be uncooperative.