Keno variations rely on bonus jackpots

Nov 13, 2007 5:33 AM

This week I’ll be over at G2E, checking out the new games on display. Hopefully, there will be something new on the video keno front. We all look forward to new ways to play keno!

Surprisingly, there hasn’t been a lot of innovation for keno players. We’ve seen a variety of video poker games, bonuses and systems, but not so with keno, so far. Hopefully this will change.

In the meantime, here are a few keno variations that have actually remained possible over the years.

One of the most amusing games I’ve ever played is 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 nice payoffs during those three games.

The only time I’ve been able to hit anything of significance playing Triple Trouble was at a Las Vegas Strip casino, where 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).

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.

A similar concept is used in IGT’s Caveman Keno. In addition to its molar-rattling sound effects, Caveman Keno features a novel screen with prehistoric volcanoes, landscape 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 player wins or loses depending 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 by the machine.

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.

As you can see, 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.

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 Game King and Bally Keno Plus.

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 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.