Can a video keno machine really get hot?

Sep 15, 2009 5:10 PM

Players like to talk about machines running hot or cold.

It doesn’t matter what kind of machine – video poker, video keno, slots, etc. – it often appears that machines go in and out of cycles in which they hit on almost every play or don’t hit for dreadfully long stretches of time.

Based on laws of probability, that would seem to make sense, in the short run.

As a simplified example of the math at work, say you took a handful of coins and threw them on the floor. Probability law says that the coins have an equal likelihood of landing heads up or tails down. And in the long run, you would probably get an even number of heads and tails.

But in practice, you will probably find that the coins land in various configurations that might not conform to probability, at least in the short run.

Thus you could get six heads and four tails, eight tails and two heads, and so forth.

The same thing is true on a keno machine. If you mark 10 of the board’s 80 numbers, probability says you should hit one-eighth of the 20 numbers drawn, or 2½ numbers on every draw.

But the reality – thankfully for us players! – is the machine will drop a wide range of numbers into our pattern, often times enough of them, say eight numbers out of the 10, to result in a nice jackpot.

I tested this hypothesis last weekend while playing 20-card keno, with some good results.

Lately, I’ve been finding that when I mark a group of patterns or clusters on the 20 numbers that make up two complete rows, the machine will drop as many as seven, eight, 10 or even 12 numbers into those two rows.

Of course, there are stretches when only three, four or five numbers hit, but you have to expect those troughs. If there’s anything I’ve observed in 20 years of playing video keno, it’s that the numbers, when they come, seem to come in waves.

As noted, when I marked patterns on two rows, say the bottom two rows (numbers 61-70 and 71-80), I would get as many as 10 or 12 numbers landing. But they were usually evenly divided between the two rows.

So last weekend, I varied the patterns so they were split between the two rows. Specifically, I used the "crossover" configuration – the first five numbers on the upper row, coupled with the last five numbers of the bottom row – to include eight 9-spots in the pattern. (See chart.)

I duplicated the pattern using the first five numbers of the bottom row with the last five numbers of the top row (kind of a mirror image of the first pattern).

With the remaining four cards, I covered the first four numbers and the last four numbers of each row with overlapping 8-spot tickets, just in case the machine dropped a bunch of numbers into those patterns.

From the very start, I got a lot of hits in the crossover patterns – plenty of 5-out-of-9 hits, a few 6-of-9 hits and even a couple of 7-of-9 jackpots.

After building up a nice cache of credits, I made a change – I changed the eight 9-spots in each cluster to eight 7-spot cards. Within a few moments, the machine dropped eight numbers into one of the clusters, resulting in a solid 7-spot along with seven 6-of-7 jackpots.

Ordinarily, when I hit something like 7-of-7, I often move to another machine, under the theory that the machine has finally "hit" and might not be in the "mood" to hit again.

But this time, I went back to my 9-spot clusters and, lo and behold, the machine dropped eight numbers into the pattern, resulting in two 8-of-9 awards, along with a few 7-of-9 jackpots.

The lesson I took away was that the machine was willing to follow up a 7-of-7 payoff with an 8-of-9 jackpot, but I don’t think the reverse would have been true, since the odds of hitting 8-of-9 are about 25 percent less than hitting the solid 7-spot.

Try these configurations and let me know how they turn out.

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