Not long ago, one of my favorite downtown casinos pulled their Multi Card Keno games (20-card keno) from the casino floor because there was a concern that the machines were paying out jackpots at too high a rate.
Specifically, the jackpots were being won by players using a cluster pattern that I had revealed a few weeks ago in this column.
Although I would love to take credit for "insider information" about the pattern, it was simply one of many cluster patterns I have successfully used while playing video keno.
The casino dismantled the games, which are housed in IGT’s Game King multi-denominational machines, while the manufacturer checked over the game software. After a few days, IGT gave the game a clean bill of health, and the casino returned the popular games to the casino floor.
In their absence, I had the opportunity to play some "regular" video keno and, one of my first loves, Four Card Keno.
It’s nice to see my cluster patterns continue to work. While playing Four Card Keno, I hit a couple of nice 7-out-of-8 jackpots at $1,652 apiece, and a healthy 7-out-of-7 for a whopping $7,000.
While waiting for one of my many hand-pay jackpots, a curious woman stopped by and asked about playing keno. She said she was an avid poker player and thought video keno was somewhat boring.
I told her it can be boring if you’re not "engaged" in the game, like most novices. By engaged, I mean really into the numbers, the patterns and how the machine is responding.
Because I’m really into the game, I’m always focused on how the machine is hitting, how the numbers are being revealed and so forth.
Obviously, I’m never bored. Especially when the hand-pay jackpots come at the rate of about two per day!
I also said to her I thought there was no money to be made playing video poker, no matter how much you may enjoy playing the game.
Maybe this wasn’t the correct thing to say, because I hate to put people in an uncomfortable position, and I truly don’t like to sound judgmental.
But I had some ammunition to back up what I was saying. My jackpot, for one, was far superior to the royal flush that most poker players seek. At about the same odds, the solid 7-spot pays $7,000 for four quarters while the comparable royal pays a measly $1,000 for five quarters bet.
But that’s only part of the story.
The "smaller" video keno jackpots, by hitting 5-out-of-5, 7-out-of-8, 6-out-of-6 and so on, are very much in reach, probability-wise, to the average player, and they pay off much better than poker jackpots.
For example, the 5-spot could be the best deal in gaming machines. Catching a solid 5-spot has odds of only 1550-1, which is less than the odds of hitting 7-out-of-9 numbers, but the payoff is a cool $810.
Let’s look at it another way. The solid 5-spot (at odds of 1550-1) comes up 27 times more frequently than a royal flush (at odds of 42,000-1). That means that in the number of games it takes to win $1,000 by hitting a royal, a 5-spot player would have won, statistically, 27 solid 5-spots, or about $21,800!
This disparity between video keno payouts and video poker payouts continues right down the line for various other configurations.
It might be helpful to check out the odds to hit some of the more popular video keno payouts. Look at our chart and you’ll find how much better the video keno jackpots are over video joker. If you’re new to the game, try a few games and see how easy it is to play. Of course, no game is ever boring when you’re lucky enough to hit a hand-pay jackpot.
(L.J. Zahm is the author of Cluster Keno: Using the Zone Method to Win at Video Keno. The book sets the standard for video keno play in the United States. For a copy, send $19.95 to Cluster Keno, P.O. Box 46303, Las Vegas, NV 89114, or pick up a copy at the Gamblers Book Shop in Las Vegas.)