Origin of Cluster Keno

Sep 22, 2009 5:08 PM
Cluster Keno by L. J. Zahm |

I just received a very nice letter from a reader who lives in Las Vegas. It’s always interesting to hear from someone who has had a history of playing keno in Nevada.

The reader mentioned playing at the old Maxim hotel casino, which used to have the old IGT Fortune machines – the tall machines with two screens, one for the keno game and the other for the payout schedule.

I, too, played there, and ate in the somewhat borderline buffet. (If memory serves, we received free buffet passes for cashing payroll checks there.)

But the keno was as good as the old two-screen machines could muster. The Maxim, along with Palace Station, Arizona Charlie’s, El Cortez, Las Vegas Club, the Skyline, Nevada Palace, also come to mind as spots where the older keno machines ruled!

In his note, the reader made a few requests and posed a few questions. Because other readers might benefit from the answers, I’ll address them here in this column.

1. Where and what kind of machine was played?

2. How many minutes or hours are played on a machine?

3. How much money I put through the machine?

4. What "clusters" I used, and how many times I changed clusters?

5. Make sure that I advise readers that clusters appear through luck.

6. How many times I go out and gamble without having a winning session.

Here are some answers to his questions:

1. The kind of machine I play is usually a Game King from IGT, which features Four Card Keno, regular keno, and most recently, Multi Card Keno (also known as 20-card keno). As I’ve pointed out before, I’ve enjoyed playing at the El Cortez, Palace Station, Gold Coast, Arizona Charlie’s, the Cannery and a few others. If this seems a trifle vague, it’s by design. As a single mom, I’m reluctant to reveal too much information.

2. I play about an hour or two on a machine. It depends on how the machine responds; that is, whether it is offering small jackpots to get things going.

3. I won’t say exactly how much money I spend gambling. But I play nickel denominations on Multi Card Keno, quarters and dimes on Four Card Keno and sometimes dollars on regular keno.

4. I think I’ve been pretty specific in identifying my clusters. For instance, last week I used a "stair stepper" pattern that has done well. My book also includes many of the same clusters I’ve used to illustrate this column.

5. Of course, it’s "luck" whenever you win. But is it possible to be "more lucky" with one pattern over another? It seems like it’s possible. Especially as you evaluate your results with your patterns.

6. I have winning and losing sessions, and the key, obviously, is to keep the losses to a minimum. The reasoning behind this is that I’m not at the machine always trying to hit the top award. Video keno allows the player to take something away, even if it’s just enough to get your money back. Very seldom will you catch the 9-out-of-9, or even the 8-out-of-9, for that matter. But if you can catch a few 6-of-9’s and 7-of-9’s, you shouldn’t have to leave as a loser.

Well, I hope that answers a few questions. I would just like to add, about money spent, you have to be able to play within your means. If you only have a $20 bill, you can play nickel keno, or even 2¢ Multi Card Keno. If you have hundred bucks, you can play Four Card Keno in the nickel and dime denominations, or regular quarter keno (one card keno). Money management is always the key to gambling, and I’ll try to explore this issue further in a future column.

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