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Narrow the odds with Multi-Card Keno

Jul 8, 2008 5:59 PM

Cluster Keno by L. J. Zahm | First, thanks to "Squirrelly," who sent me an e-mail, advising me there are plenty of Game King machines at Silverton casino. Hopefully, theyre stocked with full-pay, Multi-Card Keno games. Its a little off my beaten path, but Ill check it out.

Lately, Ive been hitting the Multi-Card games (20-card keno) pretty hard. And Im finding that quite a few places now use the lower pay scales. Palace Station is one of the few that Im aware of that still has the full-pay schedules.

The difference can be significant. For instance, the 6-out-of-7 pays only 335-1 instead of 400-1 on these machines, with 7-out-of-8 and 7-out-of-9 jackpots lowered as well.

As Ive noted before, the 20-card game lends itself to playing some interesting patterns that can be potentially lucrative.

For instance, one of my favorite keno bets is the 8-spot. Hitting 7-out-of-8 is the realistic goal because hitting a solid 8-spot at odds of 230,000-1 occurs five times less often than hitting a royal flush. It does occur, however, and its always a treat to see all 8.

Conversely, the odds of catching seven numbers is only 6200-1 (about six times more likely than catching a royal flush), yet its payoff of about 1600-1 is double that of a royal flush. Nevertheless, catching 7-of-8 occurs quite frequently, even though the payoff with four nickels bet is only about $350.

Essentially, I mark four 8-spot cards that overlap. This usually consists of two adjoining columns, two 2x4 boxes above and below the center line or the eight "crossover" numbers: upper left four numbers with bottom right four and bottom left with upper right (sometimes called the stair-stepper pattern).

One variation to this plan of attack is a little more costly because youre marking 20 cards and not just four. To wit: instead of marking an 8-spot with the top and bottom eight numbers, mark eight 7-spots within those two groups.

In fact, that pattern has become one of my favorite taking an 8-spot, such as a box or column, and filling it with eight 7-spots.

Hitting seven of the eight numbers pays a solid 7-spot plus a few 6-of-7 spots, and is nearly double the payoff of hitting 7-out-of-8 numbers. But the real kicker comes if you can get all eight numbers to hit, creating a payoff of eight solid 7-spots! With only one coin bet per card, the payoff is a healthy $2,800 or so. But if you have four coins bet per card, the payoff is a mind-numbing $11,500!

I actually experienced quite a spree involving the 20-card game and using such patterns when the machines first came out. It started with two $11,000 jackpots on back-to-back days while playing nickel 20-card keno in a downtown casino.

Follow that up with 10 video keno jackpots averaging $1,900 apiece (catching the 7-spot for $1,400 plus the 6-spots).

Well, the slot manager at the downtown casino was so concerned that he pulled the Multi-Card Keno games from the floor, and asked IGT to evaluate whether there was some flaw in the system that allowed such fabulous jackpots.

After about 10 days, IGT reported that there was no flaw or glitch in the games software, and so the casino returned the games to the floor.

However, in order to prevent exposure to such big payoffs, the games returned without the nickel denomination players are now only allowed to bet 1 and 2 games.

We all know that theres a tremendous amount of luck involved when something like this happens. Then again, whos to say that it couldnt happen to another video keno player whos willing to try something different?

Remember, it often takes a little courage to try something different. But the rewards can be worth it.