Avoid the ‘snooze & lose’
style of play

May 25, 2004 1:21 AM

Recently, a video keno player at the Gold Coast (we were playing Four Card Keno near the registration desk) asked me to elaborate about "re-setting" the keno machine.

As many of my readers know, re-setting the keno machine has been a foundation of my play strategy for years. By "reset," I mean that the numbers from the previous game are erased, and new numbers are marked ”” even though the new numbers may be exactly the same numbers that were played before!

I have alluded to this strategy in the past, particularly in the context that video keno is different from live keno, in which players often mark their card, kick back and wait for the numbers to come in.

I’ve found the live-game strategy has seldom, if ever, worked for me. In fact, I have tried to play the same game over and over, not touching the numbers, not re-betting, but the only results have been a long string of losing games.

Appropriately, I call the philosphy the "snooze and lose" method of playing video keno. Over the years I’ve discovered that a more proactive approach seems to work with video keno.

I first noticed this phenomenon while playing at the El Cortez. Much to my surprise, I would hit jackpots on machines that were located on either side of a machine I was playing, often times, while waiting for a hand-pay jackpot on the center machine! At the same casino, I hit a pair of nickel keno progressives (both in excess of $7,000!) by essentially playing the same numbers over and over, but re-setting the machine every two or three plays.

But this does not mean I re-set the machine after every game. But I seldom play the same numbers for more than three games before I re-set the machine. Also, keep in mind that most times after re-setting the machine, I will mark the same numbers.

Let me give you an example. If I’m playing the solid eight numbers in the "nine column," I may play the numbers for two or three games, then erase and mark the same column of numbers. For some reason, this sometimes leads to hitting, say, a seven out of eight jackpot, more frequently than when simply sitting on the same numbers, game after game.

I can’t say why there’s more likelihood of hitting a jackpot on the first few plays of a game than on the tenth play or even the hundredth play?

But keep in mind that the keno program was designed by an engineer who is charged with the task of creating a machine that makes money for the casino. It’s not likely they would ever create a keno game that would pay a jackpot just because you put in "enough" coins.

In fact, I’ve noticed in recent months, that some keno games go into a losing spiral the more you play the same numbers. Maybe others have noticed that, on some occasions, the numbers continue to be "bad," that is, return little or nothing at all, no matter how long you play them. I’ve found that re-setting the machine is the only way to "stop the bleeding."

Remember that these principles of mine are not hard and fast rules. But I think it’s important to be consistent. Blackjack and video poker players have their basic strategies, and experienced craps players typically bet a certain way and seldom deviate.

By following a system, whatever that happens to be, you give yourself a chance to keep up with, if not overcome, the odds of the game. In order to make the odds work for you, it’s best to be consistent and follow your system.

Now I’d like to address the "cluster" or zone action of my strategy. Anyone who has played video keno has seen how numbers form certain patterns. For instance, there are eight rows of ten numbers on a keno screen, and if you play long enough, you’ll see that most of the eight rows eventually hit seven or even eight of the 10 numbers.

In addition, there are 10 columns of eight numbers, and during the same session you might note that several columns line up seven of the eight. Occasionally, all eight will fill up. The key is being there when they do ”” and re-setting the machine frequently has been a method to do so.

Other clusters that I’ve found have paid off include sold eight boxes, two by four boxes, either above or below the center line, and three-by-three boxes of nine numbers, again marked above or below the center line.

But I don’t think the specific pattern is crucial to winning. The machine has to be "ready," to hit, and for whatever reason, re-setting seems to help it along.

(L.J. Zahm is the author of Cluster Keno: Using the Zone System to Win at Video Keno. For information about this guide to video keno write to Cluster Keno, P.O. Box 46303, Las Vegas NV 89114. To order a copy send $19.95 to Cluster Keno.)