Balancing keno payouts

Jun 17, 2003 4:45 AM

Most of the standard keno pay offs that you see advertised in various keno pay books were developed years ago, and are still in use with only some minor tinkering.

Many of them were developed in the late ’40s and early ’50s by pro-rating the payoffs on the ten spot. Up until that time ten spots were the only wagers usually offered as a standard.

The operators of keno games at that time lacked the computers that we have today, and many of them lacked the mathematical expertise that many keno managers have today. This is not to say that these people weren’t sharp; they figured out how to create the additional ticket wagers by pro-rating without the tools that keno professionals possess today.

As a result of this history, and a few additional distortions produced by the I.R.S. codes, our standard keno payouts that we are familiar with are not really balanced.

Some payouts on every ticket account for far more of a percentage of the total pay outs on that ticket than others. In some cases this is intentional: On a special-rate 5 spot that pays $1,000, this "top end" pay will account for the biggest single percentage of money paid back to all players, even though it will go to only one player. As a practical consequence, those players who hit smaller catches will receive smaller payouts than they might on a balanced pay out ticket.

Just for fun, let’s look at a few tickets that feature balanced payouts at a house percentage of about 28%, which is fairly standard. In column A you will see a typical casino pay rate. In column B, you will see a balanced pay out if the ticket were a "pay any catch" type ticket, one that pays on every catch. In column C, you will see balanced pay outs that match the catches on a standard keno pay rate.

As you can see, the typical 5 spot is loaded towards the top end. A more balanced pay out schedule would provide many more winners on the smaller catches. But would a $370 payout really be attractive on the top end?

I don’t know, but it is worth noting that many of the casinos in Las Vegas offer 5 spots that are closer to the balanced pay outs than do those in Reno. The payout quoted above as typical is more frequently found in Northern Nevada.

Here it is worth noting that the typical pay out is quite close to the balanced version on the top and the bottom ends; the 4/6 is underpaid while the 5/6 is overpaid.

The 8 spot provides the most dramatic example of unbalanced pays. The 5/8 on a typical pay rate just about gets it’s due. The typical pay rate overpays on the 6/8 and the 7/8, and grossly underpays on the solid 8.

Would a balanced payout 8 spot be popular? It’s hard to say. Many people who play eight spots have never hit a solid eight, but they have hit 6 or 7 numbers, and they might balk at having to accept smaller payouts on these catches.

Two of the most popular special tickets of all time, the $1.00 special 8 at the Landmark and the $1.25 special 8 at the Peppermill offered pay outs that were very close to the balanced norm, so you be the judge.

Well, that’s it for now. Good luck! I’ll see you in line!

On a scale of one to five spikes, with five being the highest, Keno Lil rates balanced pay outs :




Well, that’s it for now. Good luck! I’ll see you in line!