Keen on Keno -- live games vs. machine

May 12, 2009 5:10 PM
Cluster Keno by L. J. Zahm |

We recently received a comment from a reader who objected to our website’s characterization of keno as a "form of lottery or bingo … and not a serious form of gambling."

The reader further took issue with a passage that said keno has "one of the highest hold percentages against the player," and cited several Nevada casinos that "offer a reasonable keno payout for players who are serious about keno as a gambling game."

One of those casinos, Palace Station, "even offers the same pay-tables as video keno on one of its secondary live keno games," the reader said.

Thank you for the comments, dear reader, it’s always encouraging to find someone so passionate about playing keno. We at GamingToday recognize that enthusiasm for the game and, hopefully, with both a live keno writer and video keno writer, we are reaching your fellow players.

Now, it would be helpful to review some of the reader’s comments and criticisms.

First, keno does in fact have the highest hold percentage of any casino game in Nevada (see chart No. 1). Over the past 12 months, casinos collectively held 27.8 percent of all bets placed on keno, with Caribbean Stud coming in a close second at 26.6 percent.

The only other "bet" with a higher house hold percentage is sports parlay cards, which held 31.5 percent for Nevada casinos.

Of course, this represents an across-the-board total of keno bets, and there are certainly individual casinos with better pay tables, as pointed out by the reader.

One of those casinos, Palace Station, does indeed feature a "limited time offer" game called "Video Keno Live," which offers pay tables nearly similar to those on standard video keno machines.

While Palace Station’s "Video Keno Live" offers pay tables with higher payouts than their "standard" live games, they are slightly less below those found on standard video keno machines (see chart No. 2).

Upon close inspection, the video keno-like tables hold from 9.2 percent to 10.2 percent, slightly more than the 7.6 percent to 8 percent held by keno machines.

Nevertheless, those pay tables are much better than Palace Station’s standard Jumbo Keno Progressive pay tables.

The best pay tables for the Jumbo Progressive game held 27.3 percent, with most of them holding between 29 percent and 30 percent.

Once again, thanks for the reader comments, especially those that point out that it behooves the keno player to shop around for the better pay tables.

And it’s good to know that there are regular, serious keno players who routinely spend "hundreds and thousands of dollars in keno tickets … every time they step to the keno counter."

Now, if any readers have any solid tips on how to play those keno tickets, we’d love to hear from them as well!

Question? Comment? E-mail me at: LJ Zahm