Cluster Keno by L. J. Zahm | It’s not easy to correlate the casino’s hold percentage versus payback when you’re dealing with machines, such as keno games.
The 92 percent payback for keno represents an average, based on a "standard" pay table.
Standard payouts are the most widely-used in the industry, thus, they should be consistent whether you’re playing on an IGT, Bally or another type of keno game.
The overall return on the keno game is about 92 percent. That number will drop if the paytable is reduced, as what sometimes happens with the pay tables on Four Card Keno and Multi-Card Keno games.
Even on these lower paytables, the top award is usually left alone. For instance, the lower payouts typically occur on the intermediate payoffs, such as the 5-of-7, 6-of-7, 6-of-8, 6-of-9 and 7-of-9 jackpots. The highest jackpot is usually left untouched, such as 7,000-to-1 on 7-of-7 and 10,000-to-1 on 8-of-8 and higher.
Lately, I’ve noticed that some casinos will lower the payback on 6-of-7 from the standard 400-1 to about 300- or 335-1. Also, I’ve seen the standard 335-to-1 paid for catching 7-of-9 cut to 300-1 or less.
Most often, the lower pay scales are being used on the lower denominations, say, penny and two-penny games. Usually, the higher denomination games, such as nickel, dime, quarter or dollar are left alone.
The bottom line is you should be aware of what you’re playing for.
Let me also address the 92 percent overall payout. Video poker players may scoff at the percentage, since their machines often return 97 percent or higher. That just means that video keno has a higher "breakage" factor. That is, the rate of return will eat into your bankroll faster than a video poker machine.
The keno equivalent to a Royal Flush odds-wise is the solid 7-spot, which pays a whopping 7,000 to 1. Most royals only pay 800-1.