Beware of those altered paytables

Feb 17, 2004 12:22 AM

Over the past few weeks, we’ve been getting plenty of feedback about the 7-spot/8-spot pattern that seems to have done so well when playing Multi Card Keno (often called 20-card keno).

If you don’t recall, the "cluster" required putting eight 7-spots underneath eight numbers, another eight 7-spots underneath eight more numbers, then rounding out the pattern with four 8-spots.

Note that this configuration uses all 20 cards.

Although you can arrange these clusters under any 16 numbers that you’d like, I was having some good success (and, apparently, so were many of you) by putting them under the 16 numbers that make up two adjoining columns.

Many of you are finding that you’ll catch 7 numbers from the 8-spot cards much more frequently than you will catch 7 numbers from the cluster of 7-spots.

Of course, you would expect this to occur, since your 8-spots have two-thirds of a chance of hitting, while the clustered 7-spots only have one-third the probability.

Some of you are also finding that when you are lucky enough to get all eight numbers into your pattern, it’s a two-thirds chance you’ll hit a solid 8-spot,rather than all eight 7-spots.

The difference can be significant: if you’re playing nickels fully loaded, catching a solid 8-spot pays about $1,600. Not bad, but not nearly the $11,200 paid when the eight numbers fill in all eight 7-spots (eight tickets at $1,400 apiece).

One thing players can do to conserve money is to bet six 8-spots, instead of marking the four 8-spots and 16 7-spots. This way you are only marking six cards at four coins each.

By marking your cards this way, you’ll still pick up quite a few 7-out-of-8 jackpots (at about $300 apiece) and an occasional solid 8-spot.

Finally, a precaution to check the pay tables of your Multi Card Keno game. While many casinos use the "standard" pay tables supplied by the manufacturer, IGT, some other casinos are using a drastically altered pay table that results in much lower payoffs.

For instance, the downtown casinos in which I’ve played Multi Card Keno seem to use the standard pay table for all denominations. That is, you get the same payoffs regardless of whether you’re playing 1¡, 2¡ or 5¡ machines.

But some other casinos, notably some of the "locals" casinos on West Flamingo, use machines that have one pay table for penny and two-penny games and another pay table for nickel games.

Note the illustration for differences in the payoffs. As you can see, the amount paid for hitting a solid 7-spot drops dramatically (it’s actually less than half the normal payoff!) if you move to a penny denomination, and the amount paid for hitting 7-of-8 is nearly a third of what it would be when playing nickels.

The payoffs for Multi Card Keno are already lowered, in some instances, to compensate for the increased chances of hitting a jackpot with all those cards working. But to cut them even further, just because you’re playing 1¡ or 2¡ games, is like a penalty.

Make sure you’re playing for the "correct" payoffs. It’s very disappointing to finally hit a solid jackpot, only to be paid a reduced amount.

(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.)