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Play to situation

Feb 26, 2008 1:22 AM

We’ve looked at ways to increase our winning chances when playing Keno tournaments. If you find one to play in soon, here is a tip.

Remember that when you’re playing in a tournament, you’re not only playing against the house as normal, but against other Keno players. You must adjust your playing strategies if you want a decent chance of winning one of these affairs.

Some Keno tournaments offer an actual positive expectation at the outset for all players (because of the prize fund). This is a rare situation in a casino. The intelligent player will take advantage of this situation.

To optimize a Keno ticket for tournament play, we want to match its top payoff as closely as possible to the buy-in amount. Thus to optimize a 2-spot (which normally pays 12 for 1) for a $1,500 buy-in tournament, we’ll want to play it for $125. When hit, it will pay an even $1,500.

Let’s remember that if we play a regular $1 2-spot in such a tournament, we’ll only win about 6 percent of the time, or about one-half as many tournaments as we should. Here are the results of 1,000 tournaments with a $125 2-spot and everyone else playing $1 tickets:

$125 2-spots

Total wins by 1-spots are 37
Total wins by 2-spots are 300 
Total wins by 3-spots are 54
Total wins by 4-spots are 79 
Total wins by 5-spots are 170 
Total wins by 6-spots are 144 
Total wins by 7-spots are 85
Total wins by 8-spots are 131

So by optimizing the 2-spot to pay $1,500, we increase our tournament winning percentage from 6 to 30 percent! Some tournaments outlaw the use of 1-or 2-spots, but the same effect can be achieved by playing any ticket that has a high percentage of its pays at the top end, such as 5-spots, 8-spots, or any so called "catch all" tickets.

Several factors make certain tickets better than others for tournament play. Good tournament tickets return a high percentage of their winnings on the top end. (Like 5-spots, 8-spots, 2-spots, 1-spots, or any "catch all" tickets.)

Also, good tournament tickets have a top end payoff that is close to the buy-in amount. (For instance, the $2 5-spot above has a top end payoff of $1,600, which is close to the $1,500 buy in amount.)

Good tournament tickets have a top end win frequency that is close to the buy-in amount. (A 5-spot wins once every 1,551 games.)

Many tournaments require that you play a $10 ticket per game, either as a specific rule, or for practical strategic reasons. Here is a good tournament ticket: Mark 10 numbers, grouped 3-2-2-1-1-1. This will give you a 10-way-5, and will cost you $10 at $1 a way.

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].