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Players like pace, options w/video keno

Dec 2, 2002 10:58 PM

   Many people believe video keno is simply a “fast break” version of live keno. But that’s simply not the case. Most noteworthy, video keno games are controlled by a computer chip while the outcome of a live keno game is determined by random chance, that is, the selecting of bingo-like balls.

   Moreover, most players blindly accept the notion that the video keno game exactly duplicates the random chance of bouncing balls. One wonders why someone should feel this way.

   There’s very little information published about the operation of any video keno (or poker, for that matter) machine. And nowhere in print have I seen it represented by an authoritative source that video keno is a completely random, simulated keno game.

   Nevertheless, we all play the game because we believe, if not hope, that the game is in fact a keno game, or a reasonable facsimile.

   The odds of catching your marked numbers should be the same for both live and video keno. Or course, we have no way of knowing for sure what the video keno odds actually are, but we rely on faith that the manufacturer (along with the approval of gaming regulators) has created a keno game that doesn’t deviate significantly from live keno.

   If the odds are in fact the same, you should hit 8/8 or 3/5 or 7/10 just as often on video keno as on live keno . . . and vice versa.

   The computer program that determines the 20 numbers drawn in each game in video keno should be random.

   And despite the oftentimes occurrence of a machine “shutting down” after a jackpot, a video keno machine should be ready to hit (or not hit!) no matter the history of jackpots paid. In other words, there should be an equal chance to hit the jackpot at any time.

   There are obvious differences between live and video keno. For example, on video keno machines, you’ll win (2-for-1) when you catch 4/8. Many casinos don’t pay on eight-spot tickets unless you catch atleast five numbers.

   Nor will you necessarily win the same amount of money. Another example: A 3/6 catch on video keno usually pays 3-for-1, but at most casinos on live keno, the same catch merely refunds the amount of your bet or you get a free play.

   Of course, the biggest attraction of video keno is the low table limit. While few casinos let you play live keno for less than a buck these days, there are machines in which play starts at a nickel, dime or even a penny!

   The most popular denomination on video keno machines is 25 cents although there are quite a few nickel machines around (which are more likely to have a progressive jackpot) and some machines that take dollar tokens.

   With the advent of multi-denomination machines, you can now play a wider range of games, say, for a dime, fifty cents and, as previously noted, for a penny or two.

   Generally, the quarter and dollar machines have a house edge of about 7.5 percent more or less depending on the number of spots marked. This is somewhat higher than the house take on video poker machines (which in some versions are even in the player’s favor with expert play) but only a fraction (about 26 percent) of the average house edge on live keno. The nickel machines have PCs about double those of the other denominations.

   The maximum payoff on non-progressive (25-cent) video keno machines is $10,000 with four coins in. On live keno, a $1 bet can pay 10 times as much (sometimes even more) if you catch all of your spots. But there’s always a tradeoff. As I pointed out above, it’s not likely that you’ll win as much for catching less than all of your marked numbers on live keno and/or it will require more hits before you reach a winning plateau.

   Impatient? You can play as many games in a minute on video keno as it would take an hour to play on the live version. But unless you’re a contortionist or an acrobat and a fast one at that, it’s difficult to play more than two keno machines at a time even if the casino and other players allow you to. On the other hand, you can buy as many keno tickets for a live keno game as you have time to write and money to play.

   You can also play a maximum of 10 numbers on video keno; if you want to mark more, you’ll have to do it on a keno blank. A few new keno games now allow you to play ways, combinations, or kings on video keno, something that wasn’t found on older machines.

   Finally, video keno is actually fun, though most die-hard video poker fanatics like to scoff at, what they call, the boring beep-beep-beep of the keno game.

   I doubt they’d think it was boring when they hit 7-7 and ring up a $7,000 jackpot for four quarters bet!