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Playing those crazy 8-spots!

Jan 20, 2004 2:21 AM

Now that you know a few facts about 8 spots (If you have been reading this column the last few months) you know that you have a tough row to hoe if you play them. Are there any ways to improve your chances? Yes!

One way to improve your chances of hitting a solid eight is to find an eight spot that pays money back on a catch of 4 out of 8. If you do play this kind of eight spot, your frequency of wins will be almost four times as great as a standard eight spot that starts paying on five out of eight. If you look around, you will find such eight spots around the state. I ran a simulation of 1000 players, each with a bankroll of $100. The test was to determine how many games it took each player to exhaust his bankroll. You might remember that our formula for bankruptcy on our typical eight spot ticket reveals that the average player takes about 375 games to go broke. This is a mathematical average, however, and it does include those lucky few who hit eights solid, and who hit seven out of eights. The real world is reflected in the MEDIAN figure, which is the middle point of all players who have gone broke. On the standard eight spot, the median player goes broke after 127 games! If you find an eight spot that pays for 4 out of 8, this median score goes up to 131 games before going broke. Now a difference of 4 games more play out of a $100 bill might not seem like much, but it is four more chances at the big jackpot. Any gambler who doesn't take a 4% edge when he or she can probably shouldn't be gambling!

Most 8 spots that pay for 4 out of 8 are labeled "specials" and they typically pay a little less for 6 out of 8 and 7 out of 8 than a regular rate ticket. Most of the time they pay the same or even higher than a regular ticket for the solid 8. Remember that playing an 8 spot with a 4-pay does not reduce your chances in any way of hitting that 6 or 7 or 8 out of eight, it just might reduce your payoff slightly in some cases. On the contrary, the extra few games that these payoffs provide you actually increases your chances of getting some big returns.

Some publications list various Keno payoffs with their respective house percentages. Progressive keno tickets are often pointed out as being great deals to play in terms of their house percentage, which mathematically can become quite low or even negative from the player's point of view.

The truth is that these figures can be misleading. Since in most cases the progressive amount is applied only to the solid hit of 8 out of 8, this house percentage has meaning only for the one ticket in 230,000 that will win it. All the other tickets will have much higher effective percentages as a result.

To put it simply, suppose that you were playing a $1 progressive eight spot with a jackpot high enough to make the actual house percentage negative (and thus your expectation positive) if you had a $100 bankroll you still stand a 50/50 chance of going broke in 127 games! So don't be

fooled by simplistic analysis of house percentages because they're not the whole story.

Until then, Good Luck, I'll see you in line!