Multi-cards tough on a budget

October 01, 2007 11:38 PM
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Recently, I’ve been talking with video keno players who say they simply can’t afford to play the multi-card games like Four Card Keno and 20-Card Keno.

They say it’s too costly to load up the machine with those extra cards.

I can understand their point, especially since the purpose of playing video keno is to hit a high-paying jackpot.

When you load up a Four Card Machine, for instance, you’ve effectively reduced the payoff odds because you’ve increased the size of your bet four-fold.

Obviously we play video keno because of the possibility we can beat the odds — and the machine’s negative house advantage — and hit a significant jackpot

It’s the old win a "lumberyard with a toothpick" mentality that draws us to playing for those lottery-like payoffs. And players hit them regularly, if not every day.

But winning at video keno doesn’t always mean you’ve hit your 7-out-of-7 or 8-out-of-8 jackpots and collected several thousand dollars. As I’ve pointed out many times before, when you play the higher-number keno cards, say, 8-spot, 9-spot and 10-spot keno, you can walk away with a nice profit even if you don’t catch all of your numbers and defy odds of tens of thousands to one.

For instance, if you’re playing quarters, catching 7-out-of-9 pays a handsome $335 (with four coins bet) while catching 6-out-of-8 rewards players with about $99. Hitting 7-out-of-10 isn’t bad, either, paying $142 for only four coins bet.

Another reachable goal is catching 6-out-of-7, which pays $400 for four quarters bet.

Of course, the challenge is always to hit the top prize, but that doesn’t happen every day. During the times that it doesn’t occur, it can be profitable to play for these "consolation" type of jackpots.

Toward that end — that is, catching as many consolation jackpots as cheaply as possible — I’ve recently been experimenting by playing just one card on a Four Card Keno machine.

I started playing this way after I "discovered" that the Four Card Keno game seems to have a higher "hit frequency" than a standard keno game.

I noticed this while trying to hit the progressives at Palace Station. For whatever reason, I could play those standard games for hours at a time and never catch a 7-out-of-9, or 6-out-of-7 or whatever.

However, after becoming frustrated with the progressive game, I would switch over to the Four Card Game, play just one card (the "A" card) and relatively quickly hit those mini-jackpots that were so elusive on the standard keno game.

I can’t offer an explanation or even a theory of why this seemed to occur, but the cash-out tickets don’t lie.

Getting back to increasing your bankroll without actually catching a lottery-like jackpot, my approach is to play, say, a 9-spot, and after I’d catch 7-out-of-9, I’d cash out and move to another machine.

For some reason, I rarely hit 8-out-of-9 after hitting 7-out-of-9. Those usually come by themselves, without the benefit of the "near miss."

I’ve also used a cash out system similar to some who play video poker: I might set a goal of winning $50 (net) from each machine, that is, $50 profit over and above what I put into the machine. I call this my "hit and run" strategy!

The Game King machines that house Four Card Keno offer a variety of denominations, from a penny up to a dollar, so you can adjust your goals accordingly.

One recent Saturday that I experimented with this approach, I never hit anything higher than 7-out-of-9, but was fairly consistent in hitting enough of them to cash out about half a dozen times (each time with a profit of from $50 to $120).

I enjoy playing this way, and think it can give the player a realistic goal all the while you’re shooting for the "big one."