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The best of regular vs.
special keno rates

Apr 27, 2004 1:35 AM

What’s the difference between regular keno pay rates and Special keno pay rates? This question befuddles many less experienced keno players. Even some experienced players, though they do have preferences on which rates they like to play, cannot give you a clear explanation of the differences.

All keno games have at least one complete pay rate that is considered to be that house’s "regular" rate. Generally, to play that rate you don’t have to put any special conditioning or extra letters after the price per way. Many casinos have at least one more "special" rate, and in order to play the special rate you might have to mark an "S" or some such other conditioning after the price per way. Some keno games have as many as five or six complete pay rates to choose from.

In broad terms, a "special" rate ticket or pay rate is ANY rate that is not a regular rate. These might include "catch all" pay rates, tickets where you have to hit solid to get any pay, "pay any catch" rates, tickets that have at least a small pay out on every catch, and any number of strange and unusual keno bets. The term "special" though, has a narrower historical meaning when applied to keno bets. A special rate has traditionally been a keno pay rate that is similar to the regular rate, but emphasizes the top end pay offs at the expense of the lower end pay offs. Here are a few examples for 6-spot games:

$1 Regular

 $1 Special

3/6

1

4/6

 3

3

5/6

 90

90

6/6

1800

2600

n this case, the special six pays a lot more on the top catch, but there is no push for 3/6. In percentage terms these tickets are very similar, you’d probably win the same amount on each one over a long period of time.

$1 Regular

 $1.25 Special

3/6

1

 1

4/6

 3

 3

5/6

 100

 100

6/6

1480

2800

This $1.25 special has identical pays to the regular rate, except for the solid six, and of course it costs a quarter more to play. Again, the percentages on these two tickets are very similar, so it just comes down to your preference as to which you’d want to play.

The term "special" when used in keno has a long historical usage, and it has never particularly been applied to keno tickets the way it might be used in a supermarket or clothing store. There is a great discussion of this subject in Wayne McClure’s book, "Keno, Winning Ways", which is available at the Gambler’s Book Club in Las Vegas.

That’s it for this week, Good Luck! I’ll see you in the lounge.