Playing keno on a budget

Dec 30, 2008 5:04 PM
Cluster Keno by L. J. Zahm |

Players often tell me they love playing video keno, but because of a limited budget in these troubled times find the multi-card games – Four Card Keno and 20-Card Keno – a little too expensive because of the increased number of bets.

Of course, players who want to gamble on the cheap don’t have to "load up" the machines.

For instance, in Four Card Keno, you don’t have to play all four cards to have a shot at a nice jackpot, nor do you have to bet the maximum amount either.

The latter point is key because you get the same odds whether you bet one or four credits, unlike video poker which penalizes you on a royal flush when you bet less than maximum coins.

To illustrate my point, I ventured into one of the local Las Vegas casinos to play $10 in free slot play that I was awarded through its slot club.

I selected a nickel denomination, Four Card Keno game, and started playing just two of the four cards – with one coin bet on each.

That amounted to 10¢ a bet. Granted, if I got lucky and caught 8-of-9 it wouldn’t have been enough to run out and buy a new Mercedes, but 4,700 to 1 is a nice payoff nonetheless (about six times more than a royal flush!).

I decided to mark two 9-spot cards, and when I play only two cards, I usually mark "mirror image" cards or cards that overlap.

During my first few minutes I caught several 5-of-9 winners before catching a 6-of-9 payoff (44-1). You have to count on these mid-size winners in order to keep your credit meter up.

Shortly thereafter, I was lucky enough to hit 7-of-9, which paid 335 nickels.

With the extra "ammunition," I decided to expand my cluster to a third card (also a 9-spot), which overlapped the first two cards.

Using these configurations, with one coin bet per card, I was able to play for about two hours, during which time I believe I caught about six more 7-of-9 jackpots.

Unfortunately, I never caught an 8-of-9 (that was my ultimate goal), but I still left with about $25 in profit.

Now, that may not sound like much, but if you can more than double your starting bankroll while playing on the cheap, you’ve done well.

If you’re really limited, you can play 1¢ and 2¢ machines, but they often have lower pay tables. Be sure to get the “standard” payoffs.