How does a 20-spot play?

Dec 10, 2007 3:38 AM

Here is the comparison, based again on 1,000 players each playing $1,000 worth of each ticket:


6-SPOT 28.% 20-SPOT 29.35%
AVERAGE $721.50 AVERAGE $700.48
MEDIAN $528.00 MEDIAN $575.00
HIGHEST $5,477.70 HIGHEST $2,585.00
LOWEST $170.00 LOWEST $350.00


The 20-spot ticket, which was introduced at Caesar’s Tahoe circa 1984 by Tony DeLise, has arguably become the most popular special keno ticket to be introduced in the last two decades, at least as far as Keno Lil can see.

Under diverse names such as "The Roaring Twenties", "The Golden Twenties", and "The Last Resort", this ticket is being booked by almost every Keno game around the state, and has proven to be very popular with out of state keno players. It has proven to be even more popular with keno managers, and that is the real story.

It is Keno Lil’s theory of human endeavor that when something is successful, it will be copied, reproduced, imitated and cloned at least until something better comes along. This ticket has appeared at so many keno games because it is so popular, and it’s popularity is because of it’s high frequency of pays, much like a slot machine with a lot of cherries on it. This ticket has a frequency of pays of one in every 2.69 games, which means that if you play three games, you are an odds-on favorite to win something. The question is, how much? The answer is, not much.

On a typical pay card for this ticket, the catch of 4, 5, and 6 pay nothing. The 3, 2 and 1 pay a nominal amount, and the catch of zero pays $500, all for a $5 wager. The catches of 7, 8, 9, 10 and 11 range in payoffs from $5 up to $200, and when the catch of 12 is reached, the payoff reaches $1,000. At a catch of 16 or more the ticket pays $50,000. The odds against hitting $50,000 on this ticket are more than 1.4 BILLION to one! Would Keno Lil play this ticket? Well, under the influence of a full moon and three shots of Tuaca, Lil has been known to be susceptible to all manner of propositions, but she still wouldn’t play this ticket! Lil will stick to her trusty old 8-spots, and hope for a winner. But it is a safe ticket to play, with a reasonable chance of winning $500 to $1,000. (Look for a 20-spot that pays the grand for the zero out of twenty.)

This 20-spot ticket is actually a straight ticket variation of what used to be called a "bar ticket", which was a ticket you could play while sitting at a bar and having a few drinks. A "bar ticket" always had these features: It wasn’t TOO expensive, it produced a lot of playbacks, and you always had the chance of hitting something big. In this regard the now standard 20-spot tickets are admirable examples of "bar tickets."

One way of "turbo-charging" one of these 20-spots is to play five groups of four, thus adding a 10-way-8 to the ticket. If you play 10 eights for a dollar, and the 20-spot for 5, you have a 15 ticket which is quite serviceable. In many cases, the small catches on the 20-spot will help support your 8-spot habit!!!

Of course, you could also play four groups of five, giving you a 6-way-10 and 4 fives, which would also be a $15 ticket.

About all you can say about the 20-spot ticket is that it is a relatively safe ticket to play. It’s median winnings were $575, about $47 more than the 6-spot. This means that the typical player will end up a $1,000 playing session with this much more in his or her pocket by playing 200spots rather than 60spots. It is also interesting to note that quite a few more players ended up their sessions money ahead (17.5% versus 12.7%) by playing 20-spots instead of 6-spots. The weakness of the 20-spot is revealed in it’s highest potential return of $2,585, which is less than half of that of the 6-spot. In fact, the 20-spot was worse than all tickets from 5 through 15 that I studied in this regard.

If you have a keno question that you would like answered, please write to me care of this paper, or contact me on the web via email at [email protected] Well, that’s it for now. Good luck! I’ll see you in line!