Rack up those credits and drawing tickets!

May 6, 2008 7:03 PM

Cluster Keno by L. J. Zahm | As readers of GamingToday have surely noticed, many casinos in Las Vegas host contests and giveaways that require players to win entry tickets based on their machine play.

For instance, Arizona Charlie’s this month features a promotion in which they are giving away a brand new Lincoln MKZ through a drawing based on earned entry tickets. (See corresponding story in this week’s issue on page S1.)

"Machine play" is often described as lining up four-of-a-kind, hitting three 7s or winning a minimum number of credits with maximum coins bet.

Video keno is often a good way to accumulate those drawing tickets because of the many middle-level jackpots available to keno players.

 Moreover, directing one’s efforts toward winning in small increments is a good way to ensure leaving with more money than when you started playing, plus there’s always the real possibility that you will catch a nice jackpot along the way.

 This week, I’ll review a few strategies geared toward the same result – pumping up your credit meter, while playing standard keno.

 First, if your goal is to rack up the credits, I suggest playing either a 9- or 10-spot keno. This way, you have a chance of accumulating catches such as 6-of-9, 6-of-10, 7-of-10 or even an occasional 7-of-9, which will all contribute greatly toward your goal of cashing out the machine with a nice profit.

It could also work to your advantage to play 7-spot keno because if you can catch just six of your numbers, you will have accumulated 1,600 coins or credits. Of course, there’s always the chance of catching all seven numbers for a 7,000-1 payoff!

For purposes of this discussion, I’ll use the 9-spot keno game as a starting point. During the course of playing the 9-spot, I will vary the cluster or pattern. Note in the accompanying chart there are four patterns that have worked well for me in the past.

I play the machine for only a few games before resetting.

By "reset," I mean that the numbers from the previous game are erased, and new numbers are marked – even though the new numbers may be exactly the same numbers that were played before!

Of course, I may also move the pattern around, but I don’t usually do this until it seems apparent the numbers aren’t coming close.

This notion of continually resetting the machine became apparent while playing at the El Cortez many years ago. Much to my surprise, I would hit jackpots on machines that were located on either side of a machine I was playing, often times, while waiting for a hand-pay jackpot on the center machine! At the same casino, I hit a pair of nickel keno progressives by essentially playing the same numbers over and over, but resetting the machine every two or three plays.

Also, as has been pointed out in this column before, it seems like virtually all the huge mega jackpots – Wheel of Fortune and others – are hit after just a few spins of the wheel.

I am often asked the theory behind resetting the numbers on the machine. Actually, I don’t have a theory based on engineering knowledge. But keep in mind that the keno program was designed by an engineer who is charged with the task of creating a machine that makes money for the casino. It’s not likely they would ever create a keno game that would pay a jackpot just because you put in "enough" quarters.

In fact, I’ve noticed in recent months, that some keno games go into a losing spiral the more you play the same numbers. Maybe others have noticed that, on some occasions, the numbers continue to be "bad," that is, return little or nothing at all, no matter how long you play them. I’ve found that re-setting the machine is the only way to "stop the bleeding."

If you take the time to watch the keno screen, noting the patterns that form, you will probably see all four of these patterns fill up. That’s not to say they’ll fill up when you’re playing the numbers! But, eventually, the numbers will fall into place.

The trick, of course, is having them marked when they do. And re-setting the machine frequently has been a method that seems to work.