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Narrow the field to better your odds!

Feb 18, 2003 4:21 AM

One of the goals of the Cluster Keno system of playing video keno is to narrow the size of the field so that’s it’s easier to hit your numbers.

Using the entire keno board as an example, there are 80 possible numbers but only 20 numbers drawn. Trying to pick where the numbers will fall from the entire board can be an intimidating task, and many players treat it as such as they scratch the whole board and let "fate" determine which numbers they’ve selected.

I’ve found that it is much easier to take a specific group or zone of numbers, say one quadrant of the board, or one entire row, or two entire rows, or one entire column, or a 4-by-4 box of 16 numbers ”¦ well, you get the picture ”” and try to mark a card or cards (in the case of Four Card Keno) within that limited zone of numbers.

This way, I can kind of keep better track of the numbers as they fall into and out of the "zone," and move on after I feel the pond has been "fished out" at any given point.

It will be easier to explain by example.

A few weeks ago I mentioned playing four 7-spot cards that were crammed into a 3-by-4 box of 12 numbers (see illustration).

Basically, I would play these numbers until I either hit something (hopefully a solid 7 or at least a 6-of-7 payoff), or enough of the 12 numbers hit that I felt it would be awhile before that many hit again.

Here’s what I mean: From a statistical standpoint, the odds are a whopping 478 million to one that all numbers will hit within the box. Of course, that would be great because I would catch four solid 7-spots! But it’s not realistic.

Most of the hits will be 3, 4 and sometimes 5 hits within the box, but sometimes there will be up 6, 7, 8 and even 9 numbers fill the box. Of course, getting 7 numbers to hit within the box doesn’t guarantee you’ll hit a solid 7 or even a 6-of-7 for that matter, but it increases your chances.

From experience, I can usually count on getting at least 7 or 8 numbers into that box at some point. Sometimes 9 or even 10 will land. When they do, hopefully, they’ve found your pattern and you’ve won, but that’s up to Lady Luck.

Getting back to statistics, the odds are only 142-1 that 7 numbers will land in the box. Those odds are about 20 percent more favorable than the odds of hitting 6-of-9 numbers in a straight 9-spot ticket ”¦ it’s not too difficult a task.

Hitting 8 numbers is more of a challenge: the odds are about 980-1. But that’s not completely out of the question. It’s about 30 percent more likely than hitting 6-of-7. Thus, it is not far fetched to expect 8 numbers to fall within your box of 12 numbers (which, as you recall, contains four 7-spots). And there’s always the possibility that you can hit a solid 7 spot with only 7 numbers landing in your box.

The 12-spot box or zone is what I’m alluding to. It might be easier to take your little box of 12 numbers, and mark it up as you see fit (four 7 spots, four 6 spots, or combination thereof), than it would be to try and place your 7-spot tickets throughout the 80-number keno board and hope the numbers find you.

Let’s look at another example. I like to play a couple of 7-spots using the outside 8 numbers on any given row of 10 numbers (see illustration). This pattern involves overlapping six numbers and two "orphans."

For any given eight numbers, the odds are 230,000 to 1 that all eight will hit; if they did, my pattern would produce two solid 7-spots.

But the odds of catching 7 of those 8 numbers drops to 6200-1, which is about 16 percent more favorable than hitting 8-of-10, not an impossible task. And the 6200-1 is substantially less than the 41,000-1 that it takes to catch a solid 7-spot.

Keep in mind, however, that catching 7 of 8 doesn’t guarantee you hit a solid 7-spot. It’s possible to miss (by hitting both "orphans") but that worst-case scenario still guarantees you will have hit two, overlapping 6-of-7 spots — not a bad consolation prize.

The odds of 6 numbers landing among your 8 drop to about 422-1, and while this doesn’t guarantee you’ll catch a 6-of-7 (remember the orphans), you will catch your share of overlapping 6-of-7 spots over time.

Finally, let’s look at four overlapping 9-spots contained in a 4-by-4 box of 16 numbers. I’ve had fun with this one, have caught a few 8-of-9’s from this pattern, as well as plenty of overlapping 7-of-9 spots (see illustration).

As you can see, the pattern consists of four 3-by-3 tickets contained within the 4-by-4 box. Obviously, there’s a lot of overlap, and you’ll get a good share of multiple 6-of-9’s and an occasional 7-of-9 spots.

I usually play this pattern until I hit at least a couple of 7-of-9 spots, or the 8-of-9. I think the most numbers I’ve ever accumulated into this box without hitting a jackpot was 11 of the 16 numbers! When that happened I was stunned. All those numbers and not even a 7-of-9 spot! That shows you, you can have the right system and still not be lucky. Either that, or the numbers really do have eyes!

Incidentally, the odds of 11 numbers filling a 16-number box is a healthy 29,000-to-1. At least my misfortune defied some really big odds!

In any case, you should be able to attract 7, 8 or 9 numbers into your 16-spot zone, and occasionally 10 will fly in. Hopefully, they’ll be more cooperative than my Dirty 11!