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Avoid those altered keno pay tables

Nov 19, 2007 4:35 AM

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been bouncing around different "locals" casinos in Las Vegas, trying out their video keno games. I’ve had a mixed bag of results, but I’ve been noticing a trend in which casinos are using lower than "standard" pay tables on their games.

This occurs mostly on Four Card Keno and Multi-Card Keno (20-card keno) games. I’ve also noticed that some casinos cut back the Multi-Card Keno games to only six or eight cards, rather than the full 20 cards. Ouch!

The lower payouts typically occur on the intermediate payoffs, such as the 5-of-7, 6-of-7, 6-of-8, 6-of-9 and 7-of-9 jackpots. The highest jackpot is usually left untouched, such as 7000-to-1 on 7-of7 and 10,000-to-1 on 8-of-8 and higher.

For instance, I’ve noticed that some casinos lower the payback on 6-of-7 from the standard 400-1 to about 300- or 335-1. Also, I’ve seen the standard 335-to-1 paid for catching 7-of-9 cut to 300-1 or less.

It used to be that the lower pay scales were used on the lower denominations, say, penny and two-penny machines. But lately I’ve noticed the lower scales on nickel and higher denominations as well.

The bottom line is you should be aware of what you’re playing for. The standard keno machines in Las Vegas have a 92 percent payback percentage, but lower pay tables can cut into that return. It will affect your results in the long run.

Lately I’ve been getting feedback about the 7-spot/8-spot pattern that I’ve won consistently with when playing Multi Card Keno (often called 20-card keno).

If you don’t recall, the "cluster" required putting eight 7-spots underneath eight numbers, another eight 7-spots underneath eight more numbers, then rounding out the pattern with four 8-spots.

Note that this configuration uses all 20 cards.

Although you can arrange these clusters under any 16 numbers that you’d like, I was having some good success (and, apparently, so were many of you) by putting them under the 16 numbers that make up two adjoining columns.

 Many of you are finding that you’ll catch 7 numbers from the 8-spot cards much more frequently than you will catch 7 numbers from the cluster of 7-spots.

Of course, you would expect this to occur, since your 8-spots have two-thirds of a chance of hitting, while the clustered 7-spots only have one-third the probability.

Some of you are also finding that when you are lucky enough to get all eight numbers into your pattern, it’s a two-thirds chance you’ll hit a solid 8-spot,rather than all eight 7-spots.

The difference can be significant: if you’re playing nickels fully loaded, catching a solid 8-spot pays about $1,600. Not bad, but not nearly the $11,200 paid when the eight numbers fill in all eight 7-spots (eight cards at $1,400 apiece).

One thing players can do to conserve money is to bet six 8-spots, instead of marking the four 8-spots and 16 7-spots. This way you are only marking six cards at four coins each.

By marking your cards this way, you’ll still pick up quite a few 7-out-of-8 jackpots (at about $300 apiece) and an occasional solid 8-spot.

As always, experiment with different configurations or "clusters" and let me know if any of them have proven successful.