Overload from overlap tickets in video keno

Jun 16, 2009 5:10 PM
Cluster Keno by L. J. Zahm |

20-card keno susceptible to strange quirk

An avid video keno player, William, a retiree from Las Vegas wrote in last week about the Multi-Card Keno (20-card keno) machines and how they operate. It seems he was in quite a quandary, trying to figure out the better strategy – marking cards all over the board, or concentrating on specific patterns in distinct zones.

Of course, for those who have read this column in the past, it’s been my practice to focus on patterns I feel comfortable with, usually grouped so they overlap each other, thus increasing the chances of multiple jackpots if and when the numbers find their way into your corner of the keno world.

There’s a caveat that goes along with this strategy, and it’s this: If you overlap too many cards, for some reason the machine tends to stop dropping numbers into your region.

Let me give you an example that occurred this past weekend while playing at Arizona Charlie’s. I like to mark eight 7-spots using the outside eight numbers of a given row of 10 numbers, oftentimes using the bottom row of the keno board (it doesn’t matter which row).

Usually, I’ll repeat the pattern on the row immediately above the first row. But lately I’ve been experimenting with more patterns on the same row, such as adding eight 9-spot tickets, as well as four other random cards (for a total of 20 cards on the one row of 10 numbers).

When I loaded up with this configuration last week, the keno machine practically stopped putting any numbers on the row.

Thus, I was getting just one or two hits, if any, while numbers kept landing everyplace else.

We all know that, if you watch the keno board long enough, the numbers will eventually distribute themselves throughout the board, and eventually find their way to your row.

But that doesn’t seem to happen when you’ve marked many cards over the same numbers.

Recognizing this, I moved 12 of the 20 cards to different rows, leaving the eight 7-spot tickets on the bottom row.

Immediately, the machine returned to "normal" with a much higher frequency of numbers landing on the row in question.

This wouldn’t happen in a live keno game. If you marked a hundred tickets using the bottom row of numbers, there’s no reason to believe that bottom row would now be excluded from getting hits. Which seems to be the case with the electronic, 20-card keno game.

If these observations are correct, then there’s obviously something at work in the electronic version. Nevada gaming regulations stipulate that an electronic version of a live game must replicate the same odds as the live game.

But that probably means that hitting a solid 7-spot on a machine will have the same probability of hitting a 7-spot in a live game, about 40,000-to-1.

It obviously doesn’t mean that the 20 numbers drawn on an electronic keno game will be totally random, like they are in a live game.

Perhaps overlapping the cards complicates the math of probability. In any case, we have to work around these machine quirks if we are to get a fair shot at the jackpots.

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