When ahead playing Keno, move on

Nov 4, 2008 5:04 PM

Cluster Keno by L. J. Zahm |

I listen with interest as the video poker gurus verbally battle it out over machine payback percentages. Should you bother with machines that return less than 100 percent in the so-called "long run," whatever the heck that is.

Let me say I’m no expert in how these devices operate. However, I’ve received information from people who should know and the consensus that I’ve concluded is: the so-called long term payback percentage is an accounting measure and can’t be relied upon to determine whether you (me or anyone) as a player will win or lose in the short, medium or long term.

And we’re not talking simply about video poker. That goes for video keno, slots and whatever is "electronic gaming."

There are other factors involved. There’s the machine’s "hit frequency" and the actual odds of catching the hand and/or jackpot you’re playing for. There are also other sub-programs involved in the machine’s operation, such as amount of jackpots paid versus the sum of money taken in.

I’ve done the calculations and most of the video keno games I play have a "payback percentage" in the low 90 percent range. Now according to the advantage play advocates, these machines would be unplayable because it you sit long enough, you’re going to lose 10 percent of the total amount you shove into the machine.

That quite frankly is preposterous and reflects absolutely no practical experience playing the game. It is strictly a theoretical claim based on mathematics that don’t even apply.

From a practical standpoint, I have been playing these machines for decades. When I sit down, the machine fluctuates but nearly always there’s a brief point when the machine shows a profit.

This also was the case when I played video poker with reckless abandon. It seemed that in many, if not most sessions, my machine would hit a few four-of-a-kinds or even a straight flush or two, build its credit meter up, then die and slowly take all the money back.

So I would certainly endorse a philosophy in which the player quits at some point while ahead, then moves on and does it again. It may be a tedious process, especially when you’re settled in and merely want to play video poker without interruption.

But from the standpoint of leaving the casino with money in your billfold, it certainly is worth considering.

When playing Four Card Keno, there is a cluster of numbers I frequently use and they often result in hitting one 8-of-10 spot plus numerous 7-of-10 spots.

If you want to consistently show a profit, even if it’s only 40 or 50 coins per machine, those levels would be nice spots to cash out and move on. The point is to be consistent. After cashing out, find another machine and start the quest over again. The advent of ticket-in, ticket-out makes the process less tedious.