Most of the standard keno payoffs that you see advertised in various keno pay books were developed years ago, and are still in use with only some minor tinkering.
Many of them were developed in the late ’40s and early ’50s by pro-rating those payoffs on the 10-spot. Up until that time 10-spots were the only wagers usually offered as a standard. The operators of keno games at that time lacked the computers that we have today, and many of them lacked the mathematical expertise that many keno managers have today.
This is not to say that these people weren’t sharp; they figured out how to create the additional ticket wagers by pro-rating without the tools that keno professionals possess today.
As a result of this history, and a few additional distortions produced by the IRS codes, our standard keno payouts that we are familiar with are not really balanced. Some payouts on every ticket account for far more of a percentage of the total payouts on that ticket than others. In some cases this is intentional.
On a special rate 5-spot that pays $1,000, this "top end" pay will account for the biggest single percentage of money paid back to all players, even though it will go to only one player. As a practical consequence, those players who hit smaller catches will receive smaller payouts than they might on a balanced pay out ticket.
The typical 5-spot is loaded towards the top end. A more balanced pay out schedule would provide many more winners on the smaller catches. But would a $370 payout really be attractive on the top end? I don’t know, but it is worth noting that many of the casinos in Las Vegas offer 5-spots that are closer to the balanced payouts than do those in Reno.
It is worth noting that the typical payout in 6-spot is quite close to the balanced version on the top and the bottom ends. The 4/6 is underpaid while the 5/6 is overpaid.
Many people who play eight spots have never hit a solid eight, but they have hit 6 or 7 numbers, and they might balk at having to accept smaller payouts on these catches. Two of the most popular special tickets of all time, the $1 special 8 at the Landmark and the $1.25 special 8 at the Peppermill offered payouts that were very close to the balanced norm, so you be the judge.
On a scale of 1-to-5 spikes, with 5 the highest, Keno Lil rates balanced pay outs at 4.
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 at firstname.lastname@example.org.