There’s no doubt that most of us play video keno because of the possibility we can hit a significant jackpot. It’s the old win a "lumberyard with a toothpick" mentality that draws us to playing for those lottery-like payoffs.
And why shouldn’t it? Can you imagine anything more exciting than ringing up a thousand dollar jackpot after putting in only $10 or $20?
But winning at video keno doesn’t always mean you’ve hit your 7-out-of-7 or 8-out-of-8 jackpots and collected several thousand dollars. As I’ve pointed out many times before, when you play the higher-number keno cards, say, 8-spot, 9-spot and 10-spot keno, you can walk away with a nice profit even if you don’t catch all of your numbers.
For instance, if you’re playing quarters, catching 7-out-of-9 pays a handsome $335 (with four coins bet) while catching 6-out-of-8 rewards players with about $99. Hitting 7-out-of-10 isn’t bad, either, paying $142 for only four coins bet.
Another reachable goal is catching 6-out-of-7, which pays $400 for four quarters bet.
Of course, the challenge is always to hit the top prize, but that doesn’t happen every day. During the times that it doesn’t occur, it can be profitable to play for these "consolation" type of jackpots.
Rob Singer, in his video poker column in Gaming Today, talks about his "win and leave" approach, in which he plays until he wins a select amount, $40, then leaves the casino and goes to another casino to start the process all over again.
I like the concept, and thought I would try a similar approach to see if I couldn’t ring up a few "small" jackpots en route to a profitable day at the casino.
My approach, however, was to play a certain kind of game, in this case Four Card Keno, then after hitting my goal, simply move to another similar machine in the same casino. I couldn’t see the point of picking up and driving to another place.
I decided to set a goal of winning $50 (net) from each machine, that is, $50 profit over and above what I put into the machine. I cal this my "hit and run" strategy!
I chose Four Card Keno, because it increases the likelihood of hitting an intermediate jackpot, and picked a casino in downtown Las Vegas, the El Cortez.
The Game King machines that house Four Card Keno offer a variety of denominations, from a nickel up to a dollar. I selected quarters and played just one quarter per card; thus I was betting a dollar per game.
I also decided to play 9-spots and 7-spots because with one quarter bet, catching 7-out-of-9 pays a respectable $83.75, and catching 6-out-of-7 rewards you with a tidy $100.
I often play at odd hours, such as late night or early morning. This gives me the opportunity of picking my machines without a lot of competition from other players.
Also, it’s nice to relax, without playing elbow-to-elbow with your neighbor, and without the need to inhale other folks’ cigarette smoke.
It also makes it easier to slide from one machine to the next. These Game Kings are usually clustered in groups or carousels of eight to 12 machines.
I started by clustering four 9-spot cards and played until I caught enough 7-out-of-9 pots to reach my goal (or better by hitting the 8- or 9-out-of-9 jackpots!).
On the evening that I experimented with this approach, I never hit anything higher than 7-out-of-9, but was fairly consistent in hitting enough of them to cash out about half a dozen times (each time with a profit of from $50 to $120).
The clusters I used included the overlapping 9-spots on two adjacent rows (see illustration).
I also experimented with a few 7-spots, also on two adjacent rows, and caught a few 6-out-of-7 payoffs, enough of them to pique my interest to try a session with them on another day.
I enjoyed playing this way, which I shall call a hit and run approach, and think it can give the player a realistic goal all the while you’re shooting for the "big one."
Pennies From Heaven
I’ve also been experimenting with a little cluster of tickets on Multi-Card Keno at the El Cortez. These games are sometimes called 20-card keno because you can play up to 20 cards in one game, although you can actually play any number of cards, up to 20.
I’ve been playing two sets of eight 7-spot tickets on a single column of eight numbers in adjoining columns. For instance I would take the "four" and "five" columns and mark eight 7-spot cards in the four column and eight 7-spot cards in the five column.
For good measure I would also mark the two 8-spot tickets that comprised the box of eight numbers above and below the middle line, as well as the two eight-spot tickets comprised of the "stairway" like cluster of top four numbers in the four column coupled with the bottom four numbers in the five column, and the bottom four numbers in the four column coupled with the top four numbers in the five column.
This gave me 16 7-spot tickets and four 8-spot tickets, all clustered onto the four and five column of numbers.
It would probably pay more to mark them all as 8-spot tickets when the whole column fills in all the numbers. But that doesn’t happen often. Instead there will be much more frequent occasions when you’ll catch seven of the eight numbers in the column, ensuring you will win one solid 7-spot in the process.
The other day I finally caught all eight numbers in a column, and thus cashed in all eight of the solid 7-spots in that column! It was a glorious sight, seeing eight 7,000-credit payoffs on top of each other, for a total reward of 56,000 credits.
I won’t say whether those credits were penny, two-penny or nickel denomination (the coin amounts offered at the El Cortez). But I hope you can catch something similar very soon!
(L.J. Zahm is author of "Cluster Keno: Using the Zone Method to Win at Video Keno." For a copy, send $19.95 to Cluster Keno, P.O. Box 46303, Las Vegas, NV 89114.)