Take a seat in any keno lounge, and you’ll probably hear this common refrain from frustrated players: "Just one more number, just one more number."
It seems players are always falling just one number short of hitting something significant, maybe even life-altering.
A technique that can actually capitalize on the just-one-more syndrome is marking a "king" ticket and playing just one less than the number of marked kings. This way, if you hit just one number short of the ones you’ve marked, you will actually hit a solid ticket "underneath" the group of king numbers.
Let me explain. First of all, a king ticket is a "way" ticket in which your groups are composed of only one number, which is usually called a king, but can also be called an "ace" or a "one."
One very popular way of playing a king ticket is to mark the kings, and play the ways which are one less than the number of kings.
For instance, you might mark six kings, and play the 5-spot ways, giving you a six-way 5-spot (six different chances to hit a solid 5-spot). Or you might mark nine kings and play a nine-way 8-spot.
What’s the benefit of playing this kind of way ticket? As many experienced keno players know, it’s a lot easier to hit five-out-of-six numbers than it is to hit a solid 6-spot. But on the king, six-way 5-spot ticket, any five numbers will give you a solid 5-spot.
Similarly, on the nine-way 8-spot, catching eight-out-of-nine numbers will result in a solid 8-spot, and catching seven numbers results in hitting two seven-out-of-eight tickets.
Calculating the number of combinations available for a given set of king numbers can become complicated. For instance, if you mark 10 king numbers and want to group them in six spots, there are more than 200 possibilities.
To help with your calculations, I’ve included a chart that plots the number of ways on king tickets up to 10 numbers.
To read the chart, look across the top until you come to the number of kings or one-spots that you have on your ticket. Then read down the column until you come to the ways that you want to play.
For example, suppose you are marking a ticket with eight kings and you want to play 5-spots. Read across the chart until you come to the "8" column, then read down until you come to the "5" row. Here you will find the entry, "56," which indicates there are 56 ways to make a 5-spot wager with eight kings.
If you’re astute you’ll notice also that, on a king ticket, if you play the ways that are one less than the number of king spots marked, you will have the same number of ways as the number of spots. That is, five kings produce a five-way 4-spot, 10 kings produce a 10-way 9-spot, etc.
The ticket with eight kings is quite interesting, if you have enough money to play it and you are interested in hitting the house limit (which can vary from $25,000 to $100,000).
In almost any casino, the following tickets will give you a limit payoff for a solid 8-spot: one-way 8-spot and eight 7-spots, played for $9; one-way 8-spot and 28 6-spots, played for $29; and one-way 8-spot and 56 5-spots, played for $57.
The 5-spot way ticket, though costing the most to play, starts paying serious money for five-out-of-eight (the payoff will be more than $1,000 in most casinos). A four-out-of-eight will probably return over half the original wager.
Next week we’ll talk more about king tickets, a regal bet in the keno lounge.
That’s it for this week, good luck, and I’ll see you in line.