Drought for video keno jackpots can’t last forever, can it?

May 26, 2009 5:08 PM
Cluster Keno by L. J. Zahm |

Hope springs eternal when others win

For some reason, casinos have gotten away from announcing major jackpot winners. For instance, you used to hear announcements such as, "Congratulations to a lucky player for winning $4,000 on her favorite video poker machine," or "Congratulations to a lucky player who just won $10,000 playing Wheel of Fortune."

At best, some casinos now simply announce a player has won X-amount of dollars on his or her "favorite machine."

Perhaps they won’t identify the type of machine for fear of encouraging people to play one kind of machine, at the expense of not playing other machines.

Regardless of the reasons (maybe the machines have become so tight that there are fewer jackpots!), casinos should in fact announce winners. Hope springs eternal, especially when you hear about other players hitting it big.

And, nowadays, as jackpots seem harder and harder to hit, we can all use some encouragement.

Over the years, however, it’s been my experience that these big jackpots seem to come after you begin to become frustrated and think the machines have dried up completely.

Isn’t it funny that they seem to "resurface" just when you’re about to pull up stakes and seek greener pastures elsewhere.

One of the obvious attractions of playing video keno is the lure of huge jackpots. That’s why we do it. If we wanted to plug along and cash out a few dollars a day, we’d be playing video poker.

But, as we all know, the top awards don’t come easily, nor do they come often.

I’m sure after awhile many players may wonder: "Is it possible to win $10,000 on video keno? I have never seen anyone hit the top $10,000 payout. Have you heard of anyone getting so lucky?"

The answer to both questions is a resounding "Yes!"

But let’s qualify those answers. The $10,000 jackpot is customarily the top award on 8-spot, 9-spot and 10-spot quarter keno machines.

Those 25¢ machines will pay $10,000 if you hit a solid card with four quarters bet. But the odds to hit one of those cards are extremely high, thus the frequency of hitting is understandably small.

For instance, the odds of catching 8-out-of-8 is about 230,000-1. Keep in mind that the odds of catching a royal flush in poker is "only" about 40,000-1. So, statistically speaking you would expect to catch all 8 spots in the span it takes to hit six royals!

It gets worse for the 9-spot and 10-spot games. The odds of filling a solid 9-spot card is 1,330,687-to-1, and about 8.9 million-to-1 for hitting all 10 spots. Thus, you can expect to hit one solid 9-spot for every 33 royals you line up, and one solid 10-spot for every 222 royals!

I would expect the chairs would become a little uncomfortable waiting to beat those kinds of odds.

Fortunately, you don’t have to. It’s possible – and I see it done, day in and day out – to win large jackpots without winning the top prize. That’s because the "lesser" jackpots in video keno are so substantial, that you can win big without defying prohibitive odds.

Let’s look at some examples. The 9-spot card is popular with players because they can hit a "royal flush-size" jackpot, about $1,100, by catching 8-out-of-9 numbers at odds of only 30,000-to-1, about 25 percent less than the royal’s odds. More important, the cost is only four quarters rather than poker’s normal five-quarter bet.

If you do the math, you can see how these jackpots can easily approach $10,000 by upping the ante a bit. Using the same 9-spot example, a four-quarter bet produces a $4,700 jackpot for catching 8 numbers, and a $2 bet will return a healthy $9,400. Video poker players eat your hearts out!

Players have another great shot at the big bucks when they play 7-spot cards. Catching all 7 numbers, whose odds (41,000-1) are about the same as hitting a royal flush, pays a whopping 7,000-1 (the royal flush pays only 800-1!).

Once again, you don’t need a slide rule to figure that a dollar bet would win $7,000, a $2 bet returns $14,000 and so forth.

Do players actually hit these jackpots? These and more are hit daily in Las Vegas casinos. Obviously, any type of gambling is based on luck, but if you know what you’re trying to hit and play in that direction, you have a chance of hitting a big one.

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