Keno ‘lightning’ can hit, any time!

Dec 16, 2003 2:31 AM

Keno players are strictly at the mercy of the random-number phenomenon. Specific "sets" of random numbers are truly chaotic in nature. Supposedly in the Theory of Chaos, there is no order or rhyme or reason in the occurrence of random happenstance in limited play.

Being a student of mathematics, I’m always fascinated in the observation of random-number generation. The computer has been a tremendous assist in developing simulations of casino game study of low-vig games such as craps or baccarat. I don’t think I’d be exaggerating that I’ve used several billion random numbers in the simulations. But there, they are aggregated into simple do’s and don’ts and bank or player decisions.

Keno players try to pick just a few numbers which might appear in a set of 20 numbers drawn randomly out of a total field of 80 numbers. The more numbers you try to pick out of the 20 drawn, the odds against increase tremendously as well as the consequent payoffs. The lure is the big windfall for a very small investment.

The story has it that World Poker Champ and millionaire, Doyle Brunson, went broke in Vegas and was on his way back to Texas, ne’er to return. While waiting for his bus, he invested 55 cents on an eight-spot keno ticket and caught a perfect eight for many thousands. Needless to say with a new stake, he cancelled his move and the rest is history. So, it does happen. Such things rejuvenate the faith of innumerable die-hard keno addicts.

Whenever I’m traipsing around the joints, I frequently glance at the number patterns displayed on the lighted keno boards. Like I said, I’m fascinated by random numbers. Players have all sorts of schemes in challenging the draw of fate. Most seem to subscribe to a rule of recurrence. That is, they believe certain patterns will repeat or are "overdue."

They stick to a favorite pattern: block, sequence, mystical numbers, or birthdays, etc. and let the "numbers chase them." Others see what recent numbers seem to occur more frequently than the odds should dictate and this aberration causes them to "chase the numbers." Chase or be chased are the two basic philosophies. Success or failure is quite fickle and pure luck is the final determination.

I have some keno-writer friends and we gab about the type of tickets and patterns most often played by people. The consensus is most players, for some reason, concentrate their picks on the upper half of the board ”” the first 40 numbers. Smaller numbers are most compatible with months or days and even years or ages. Also for some strange reason, many people are hung up on the blocks of numbers in the upper right corner, creating solid blocks. The most overlooked seems to be the lower left corner. Body language?

Yet when you look at the lights of a completed keno board, you can’t help but note the random distribution throughout the board, I call it the "shotgun effect." Like shooting into a flock of birds, trying to hit a few. It seems the more scattered your shots, the better your chances would be.

On the average, we see about 10 numbers drawn for the top half and a similar 10 on the bottom. It varies of course but extreme deviations are relatively rare. It then stands to reason that players who pick their eight spots on the top half are hoping to catch eight out of a possible average 10. That seems to really be bucking the odds beyond normal average conditions.

I’ve further refined my observations by mentally drawing a vertical line down the middle, dividing the board into quadrants. Too often, I’ve seen the hits average about four to six numbers in each quadrant.

If on the average, a quadrant draws around five numbers, one can see the deviation from normalcy that’s necessary, say, to catch an eight-spot block in the upper right corner, etc.

My contention is that with randomness one doesn’t try for the unusual (yet plausible) aberration but scatters his picked spots in somewhat the same manner as the random scattering of the 20 live draws. Like for an eight-spot ticket, say, two spots in each quadrant. In each case, that’s five draws looking for two spots. Basically overall, that’s eight shots fired randomly and then let a flock of 20 random birds try to fly through them.

That’s for Donna. She asked me for my random thoughts about her favorite game keno. It’s high vigorish but a lot of fun for dollar-stretcher recreation.