If the cluster keno well runs dry, sip a little slower!

Jan 6, 2009 5:08 PM
Cluster Keno by L. J. Zahm |

I get comments from video keno players – either in the local casinos or via email – that it seems the top jackpots have become harder to hit.

Several have complained that machines often come "close" by catching, say, 6-of-7 or 7-of-9, but the elusive solid 7-spot or 8-of-9 jackpot won’t appear, no matter how long you play.

During lulls like this I like to suggest that players might want to re-define their goals and accept lesser payoffs, when the top awards become missing in action.

By doing so, you can still walk away with a nice profit if you can catch enough of your numbers.

For instance, if you’re playing quarters, catching 7-out-of-9 pays a handsome $335 (with four coins bet) while catching 6-out-of-8 rewards players with about $99.

Another reachable goal is catching 6-out-of-7, which pays $400 for four quarters bet.

Of course, the desire is always to hit the top prize, but that doesn’t happen every day. During the days that it doesn’t occur, it can be profitable to play for these "consolation" like jackpots.

I’ve heard about the "win and leave" approach, in which you play until you win a predetermined amount, say, $50, then get off the machine and move to another.

I like the concept, and thought I would try a similar approach to see if I couldn’t ring up a few "small" jackpots en route to a profitable day at the casino.

I decided to set a goal of winning $50 (net) from each machine. I chose Four Card Keno because it increased the likelihood of hitting an intermediate jackpot, and picked a popular casino, Arizona Charlie’s.

The Game King machines that house Four Card Keno offer a variety of denominations, from a penny up to a dollar. I selected quarters and played just one quarter per card. (Be aware that some penny machines have a reduced pay scale, so the 6-of-7, 6-of-8 and 7-of-9 payoffs are significantly less.)

I also decided to play 9-spots and 7-spots, because with a 25¢ bet, catching 7-of-9 pays a respectable $83.75 and catching 6-out-of-7 rewards you with a tidy $100. Obviously, betting maximum (four) coins would produce payoffs of $335 and $400, respectively, but betting $4 per keno game can be expensive (don’t forget, we’re in a recession).

I decided to cluster two 9-spot and two 7-spot cards and played on a given machine until I reached my goal of $50 profit.

On the evening that I experimented with this approach, I never hit anything higher than 7-of-9 and 6-of-7, but was fairly consistent in hitting enough of them to cash out about half a dozen times (each time with a profit of from $50 to $120).

I enjoyed playing this way, which I shall call my hit and run approach, and think it can give the player a realistic goal while waiting for the "big one."