Bad luck or little men in that video keno machine?

Sep 8, 2009 5:09 PM
Cluster Keno by L. J. Zahm |

As a long-term video keno player, it’s hard not to sometimes feel the game isn’t merely a computerized version of the live game, but rather there’s a live, tiny human being inside the machine, controlling the outcome.

I get this feeling every time I change my numbers, and the machine inexplicably (almost immediately!) fills in the pattern I just vacated.

Can it be just an unlucky coincidence? Would I have hit the mother lode of all jackpots if I had just continued playing the same numbers that bore little fruit for the previous two hours?

I don’t think so. There must be a tiny, live human being – obviously a vindictive, sadistic one at that – inside the machine, controlling the outcome.

The little person was doing his (or her) dirty work this past weekend. While playing 20-card keno at a locals-oriented casino in Las Vegas, I had marked my usual 7-spot patterns – I put eight 7-spots underneath the outside eight numbers of a 10-number row, as well as eight 7-spots on the inside eight numbers of the same row.

That’s a total of 16 7-spot tickets on one row (it doesn’t matter which row).

I have had success with this pattern or "cluster" in the past. One month this year I caught all eight outside numbers on three different occasions, which resulted in catching eight solid 7-spots.

That’s a nice award – about $11,200 on a fully-loaded nickel machine; even on a penny machine the award is significant, about $2,200.

Of course, most of the payouts are for catching seven of the eight tickets, which is still a nice jackpot – about $1,900 on a nickel machine and $400 on a penny game.

 Anyway, I was playing this pattern for about two hours, catching enough 6-of-7 awards to keep my interest from waning, when I decided to change patterns. I elected to use the first eight numbers (one through eight) and the last eight numbers (three through 10) as my cluster patterns (once again, 16 7-spot tickets).

Within just a few minutes, the machine dropped nine of the 10 numbers into my row – right on top of the outside eight numbers I had just vacated!

The numbers did fill in two of my 16 7-spot tickets, as well as hitting 14 6-of-7 awards.

It was a nice jackpot, but nothing close to what "would have been" had I stayed on the outside pattern.

No amount of probability and statistics theory can convince me that it was just bad luck that caused me to miss out on the big jackpot.

There must be someone, a diminutive person inside the machine, controlling the numbers.

And if there is someone in there, I have a plan. I’m returning to the same machine very late tonight, when most of the casino customers have long since left the building.

Perhaps after an arduous day of shuffling numbers and frustrating customers, my little vindictive friend will be so dog-tired that he’ll be vulnerable to making a mistake.

Maybe with a little bit of luck, coupled with his (or her) sleep deprivation, I’ll catch those eight outside numbers.

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