Cluster Keno by L. J. Zahm | A couple of times last week while playing at one of the many locals casinos, there was some complaining from fellow video keno players that jackpots seemed more difficult than ever to hit.
By "jackpot" I mean a significant award, such as catching 7-out-of-7 or 8-out-of-9 – a jackpot that would be comparable to hitting a royal flush on a poker machine.
I don’t know whether it’s more difficult, although I must confess the W2-Gs aren’t piling up like they did in previous campaigns.
Perhaps these things run in cycles, like a lot of games of chance.
In any case, what a lot of players are doing – myself included – is lowering expectations by trying to hit smaller jackpots, say, by marking 5-spot and 6-spot cards.
Keep in mind that the odds of catching 7-of-7 is a healthy 41,000-to-1, so hitting a solid seven is not an everyday occurrence, and it’s even possible to play for weeks and weeks and never hit one.
Last week, I began playing the smaller cards, such as marking six 5-spots inside a six-number box, then overlaying that with a 6-spot – all on a 20-card keno machine.
I did have some good fortune, once catching a solid 6-spot, which also included the six 5-spots (at 810-for-one each).
I plan to continue shooting at this configuration, because even if you don’t catch all six numbers, you should be able to hit the 5-of-6 payout relatively frequently.
This is a good strategy to go along with trying to play for the larger awards, all the while knowing you’ll settle for a smaller, though respectable (and profitable), payout.
Before we look at those, first consider the 8-spot, not that you should have an expectation of catching a solid eight, whose odds are a numbing 230,000-to-1. But the "consolation" payoff for catching 7-of-8 is not unreasonable – it has a nice payoff of $1,652 for four quarters bet. And with odds of 6,200-1, the chances of catching seven of eight is nearly seven times greater than hitting a solid 7-spot.
The smallest award, in the case of the 8-spot, is catching 6-of-8, which is worth about 98-for-1.
The jackpot for hitting a solid 6-spot is about the same as for catching 7-of-8 … about $1,600 dollars for four quarters bet. But at odds of about 7,700-to-1, it’s about 20 percent more difficult to hit a solid 6-spot than 7-of-8.
Now we come to the 5-spot, which many long-time players consider the best value among the various keno cards. Here’s why: The payoff of 810-1 for catching 5-of-5 is better than the royal flush’s payoff (800-1), but the odds of hitting a solid five are only 1,550-1!
Remember, the odds of hitting a royal are about 41,000-1, so this difference can be interpreted to mean that for every royal, you should hit 26 solid five spots!
Of course, when you play only 5-spots on Four Card Keno, your effective return for hitting all five on one card drops from 810-1 to about 200-1. Nonetheless, walking out of the casino a winner is always the goal.