Try not to sink on video keno's Cleopatra's barge

Apr 7, 2009 5:04 PM
Cluster Keno by L. J. Zahm |

I couldn’t put it off any longer – so many people play Cleopatra Keno that I had to dig into my bankroll to give the game a fair run.

I have to admit it’s fun to play. The graphics are nice, it has entertaining sound effects and the bonus round in which the pay table is doubled is certainly exciting.

But still, it’s hard to get past the small payoffs, compared to regular or multi-card keno.

To start with, I wasn’t sure how many spots to mark. The pay tables are so diminished, it’s difficult to set some sort of target.

Nonetheless, I decided to play some 9-spots. One of the reasons is the bonus round (12 free spins with the pay table doubled) doesn’t kick in unless the last ball drawn falls on your pattern (and it must be a winning pattern).

Plus, hitting four of nine numbers pays double the bet, whereas it’s only a push in other keno games.

After playing for several hours, I noticed there were up and down streaks, as you would expect in any keno game. But I never felt like I was on the verge of hitting anything significant, especially during the bonus rounds, where you’d hope to make some hay.

In fact, I only caught 7-of-9 numbers twice, neither time during the bonus round. And the best I could hit during the bonus was 5-of-9.

Maybe it was just my luck, since others around me swear they’ve done better. Maybe so. But I think I’ll give some of the other variations a try. I kind of like the "Power Keno" game, in which the payoffs are multiplied by four if the last ball drawn lands in your winning pattern.

Another game that seems to get a lot of followers is Caveman Keno. In addition to its molar-rattling sound effects, Caveman Keno features a novel screen with prehistoric volcanoes, landscape and – hopefully for the player – dinosaur eggs.

The eggs are the key, and they function in much the same manner as Power Keno bonus – values increase in multiples of four.

Here’s how the game works: The player chooses from 2-10 spots, just as in regular keno. The computer will then draw three numbers at random (among those that the player did not pick). These three numbers will be marked with a dinosaur egg.

The game proceeds with the machine pulling 20 numbers, and the player wins or loses depending on his catches.

If the player hits enough spots to win something, that award is multiplied by a factor depending on whether the egg numbers match the 20 numbers chosen by the machine.

The multiplying factor is 1 if the number of egg matches is 1 or less, 4 if two eggs match and 10 if all three eggs match.

As you can see, the bonus feature is the key to winning a keno-like payoff, just like in the other variations.

The only other keno variation that I’ve played with any semblance of regularity is the 3-6-9 Way Ticket game.

Like any other kind of way ticket, the 3-6-9 game allows for hitting many small payoffs with the possibility of hitting multiple medium jackpots. The abundance of minor awards allows for playing a longer period of time, but you seldom have a shot at some huge awards (which is the reason most of us are attracted to keno in the first place!).

Here’s the reason: In the 3-6-9 game, you’re playing seven coins per game, but never do you ever have four coins bet on one card. Thus, if you ever hit the top payoff, say 9-of-9, you will have done it with only one coin bet (even though you were betting seven coins each game).

Of course, if you hit 9-of-9, you will also have hit three solid 6 spots and three solid 3 spots, as well. But the jackpot still would not be as much as hitting a solid 9 spot with four coins bet.

Nevertheless, playing the 3-6-9 way ticket is fun, and you will frequently hit the minor payoffs, including the 7-of-9, which hopefully brings along with it a solid 6-spot from the three that are available.