Behind the Cluster strategy

Jan 27, 2004 12:15 AM

I just received a very nice letter from a reader named James in Las Vegas. It’s always interesting to hear from someone who has had a history of playing keno in Nevada.

James, for instance, recalls playing at the old Maxim hotel, whose casino used to have the old IGT Fortune machines that I mention from time to time.

I, too, played there, and ate in the somewhat borderline buffet. (If memory serves, we received free buffet passes for cashing payroll checks there.)

But the keno was as good as the old two-screen machines could muster. The Maxim, along with Palace Station, Arizona Charlie’s, El Cortez, Las Vegas Club, the Skyline, Nevada Palace, also come to mind as spots where the older keno machines ruled!

James noted that he had some good fortune playing the Fortune machines, and that’s always nice to hear. Quite frankly, when I played there, I hadn’t yet developed my Cluster Keno system, and for me it was mostly hit-and-miss.

In his letter, James made a few requests and posed a few questions. Because other readers might benefit from the answers, I’ll address them here, in this column.

James would like to know:

1. Where and what kind of machine was played?

2. How many minutes or hours are played on a machine?

3. How much money I put through the machine?

4. What "clusters" I used, and how many times I changed clusters?

5. Make sure that I advise readers that clusters appear through luck.

6. How many times I go out and gamble without having a winning session.

I think these are very good questions, and as far as some of the details about money amounts and even IRS statements to back them up, many are contained in my book, Cluster Keno. So, I shall send a copy, free of charge, to James, because there are some things I don’t want to discuss in this forum.

In the meantime, here are some answers to James’ questions:

1. The kind of machine I play is usually a Game King from IGT, which features Four Card Keno, regular keno, and most recently, Multi Card Keno (also known as 20-card keno). As I’ve pointed out before, I like the El Cortez, Palace Station, Gold Coast, Orleans and a few others. If this seems a trifle vague, it’s by design. As a single mom, I’m reluctant to reveal too much information about where I might be playing on a given day. (The "L.J." in my byline stands for Linda Jo!)

2. I play about an hour or two on a machine. It depends on how the machine responds; that is, whether it is offering small jackpots to get things going.

3. I won’t say exactly how much money I spend gambling. But I play nickel denominations on Multi Card Keno, quarters and dimes on Four Card Keno and sometimes dollars on regular keno.

4. I think I’ve been pretty specific in identifying my clusters. For instance, a few weeks ago I used a "stair stepper" pattern that has done well. My book also includes many of the same clusters I’ve used to illustrate this column.

5. Of course, it’s "luck" whenever you win. But is it possible to be "more lucky" with one pattern over another? It seems like it’s possible. Especially as you evaluate your results with your patterns.

6. I have very few losing sessions. That’s because, like my poker counterpart, Rob Singer, I’m not at the machine trying to hit the top award. Video keno allows the player to take something away, even if it’s just enough to get your money back. Very seldom will you catch the 9-out-of-9, or even the 8-out-of-9, for that matter. But if you can catch a few 6-of-9’s and 7-of-9’s, you shouldn’t have to leave as a loser.

Well, I hope that answers a few questions. I would just like to add, about the reference to money spent, you have to be able to play within your means. If you only have a $20 bill, you can play nickel keno, or even 2¡ Multi Card Keno. If you have hundred bucks, you can play Four Card Keno in the nickel and dime denominations, or regular quarter keno (one card keno). Money management is always the key to gambling, and I’ll try to explore this issue further in a future column.

(L.J. Zahm is the 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. Or pick up a copy in Las Vegas at the Gamblers Book Shop.)