Yes, ‘3’ is the magic number

Aug 24, 2004 5:42 AM

Anyone who was a kid in the 1970s (like I was) or is a thirty-something mom raising a kid today (like I am), may recall the "School House Rock" TV show.

"School House Rock" was a marvelous series, helped along by the words and music of Bob Dorough. One of Bob’s classic songs is "Three Is a Magic Number."

Now more than ever, I think Bob was right. I’ve found that "three" can work its magic when you’re playing video keno!

But first a little groundwork. I continue to receive comments from fellow players who don’t quite know how often they should reset the machine, that is, cash out and begin playing the same numbers again.

The whole concept behind resetting the machine is to put the machine into the proper cycle. That is, get the machine into a cycle in which hitting a jackpot is within reach.

Players may argue that the odds of hitting a jackpot are always the same, but experience just doesn’t bear that out.

It’s been my experience that the keno machine often enters what I call periods of "dark despair."

Anyone who plays the game knows what I’m speaking of: No matter what you do, your numbers simply fail to materialize; the machine constantly hits just one number short of a winning combination; and your credit meters goes in one direction — down.

I’ve found that resetting the machine — cashing out then starting again — sometimes "jolts" the machine out of its despair cycle and into the sun-soaked realm of jackpot land.

This is where the "magic" three comes into play. Lately, I’ve been very aggressive at resetting the machine. It’s simply too expensive to plod along, waiting for the machine to voluntarily change its losing ways.

Moreover, since I’ve been concentrating on Multi-Card Keno (often called 20-card keno), bets are multiplied by the number of cards played (up to 20), so losing streaks can be extra costly.

So, I’ve taken to resetting the machine after playing only three games, with the stipulation that the machine must hit at least 5-out-of-8 numbers on at least one of the cards I’m playing in order to continue. Thus, if there’s no 5-of-8 within three games, I reset and start again.

I’ve also taken the three to a second level: After three tries at resetting the game, I cash out, return to the main menu, then come back to the Multi-Card game.

This provides another "layer" of resetting the machine. Although it’s a little more work to re-bet all your cards, the results are worth the effort.

And what kind of results have I had? Playing this way produced a nice series of payoffs, as depicted in the accompanying pictures of winning keno games.

Specifically, I played six overlapping configurations of eight numbers: two 8-spots consisting of the "3" and "4" columns; two 8-spots consisting of the two-by-four boxes above and below the center line; and two series of eight 7-spots using the "cross-over numbers," that is, the top left four numbers coupled with the bottom right four numbers, and the bottom left four numbers coupled with the top right four numbers. In the past I’ve also called this the "stair stepper" pattern, for obvious reasons.

Of course, the goal is to hit everything, but realistically you’re shooting to catch seven or even eight of the numbers in the cross-over clusters. Catching seven would result in hitting one solid 7-spot plus seven 6-out-of-7 awards. Catching all eight would result in hitting eight solid 7-spots, a very healthy payoff (it’s been done!).

Catching 7-out-of-8 in the other clusters pays handsomely (1,450-1), but nothing close to catching the solid 7-spot (7,000-1).

Getting back to the keno pictures, you can see the first two jackpots were for catching 7-out-of-8, both occurring oddly enough in the "4" column.

Eventually seven numbers landed in the cross-over pattern (see the bottom picture), resulting in a solid 7-spot and seven 6-out-of-7 winners.

Overall, the session took about two hours to produce these winners. Keep in mind that the actual odds of hitting 7-out-of-8 numbers is about 6,200-1. Thus to hit three different 7-of-8 clusters in the same session is truly "magic."

(L.J. Zahm is the author of Cluster Keno: Using the Zone Method to Win at Video Poker. For a copy, send $19.95 to Cluster Keno, P.O. Box 46303, Las Vegas, NV 89114.)