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In video keno, switch numbers -- and watch for 'tight' machines

Dec 2, 2008 5:10 PM

Cluster Keno by L. J. Zahm |

In playing video keno, no matter how many spots you choose, it’s important to differentiate the game from live keno. There’s an old adage in the keno lounge that states you should pick your numbers then "wait for them to come to you."

Coupled with that is the admonition to never "chase" your numbers.

That’s probably good advice in the keno lounge, but it’s never worked for me at the keno machine. I could play the same numbers over and over until I’ve drained the ATM and have nothing – except an empty bank account – to show for it.

In fact, as an experiment, I’ve tried to play the same numbers, and it’s like blood letting: you slowly watch the life slip out of your veins, until you’re ready to yell, "Stop the bleeding!"

I’ve found that sticking with the same numbers without switching is a loser. Which would seem to make sense, if you keep in mind that the keno game is the product of a computer software expert, whose job is to design a game that makes money for the casino.

Can you imagine one of the game manufacturers sending out a game, in which all it took to win the big jackpot was a little bit of patience and deep pockets? I don’t think so.

When I started playing a couple of decades ago, I exclusively played the upright, two-screen IGT Fortune keno machines. These were the old warhorses that plodded along, dumping out coins on every payout, and waking the dead with its jackpot ringer that was reminiscent of the doorbells in the 1950s.

Most of those old machines have been retired, but you might be able to find a relic at one of the downtown casinos like the El Cortez or Western Hotel. Jerry’s Nugget might have one, as I’ve been told that they have a section of "old" machines (coin in and coin out!) that attracts old timers every day.

You have to be careful, though, because some of the Golden Oldies have been retrofitted with different computer chips that have reduced the payouts. I made that painful discovery several years ago, when I came into my favorite casino and found all the keno machines disabled and the chairs pulled away from the machines.

The casino’s slot technicians were "changing" the internal chips and the machines were never the same after that. It’s unfortunate that casinos elect to reduce payouts just to try and bolster their bottom line.

They found, however, that players aren’t that stupid – or wealthy – and they won’t play "bad" machines forever. Eventually, people stopped playing them and they were replaced with more modern machines.

That should be the scenario. If casinos want to put in tight machines – tight to the point where you simply can’t win – players should stop playing them. Maybe they should even stop patronizing the offending casino.

For myself, I’ve virtually stopped playing at one of the bigger local casinos and have regularly begun playing at another, because the machines have been tightened so badly. For keno players, there aren’t that many options.

Of course, I could always take up sports betting. I hear the GamingToday chaps are knocking out the winners with their weekend football preview.

Now, if I could only catch one of those 6-team parlays I keep hearing about.