Video keno players are always asking what is the best ticket to play — a 6-spot, 7-spot, 8-spot, 10-spot or whatever.
Of course, there is no simple answer because it depends on what players want to get out of the game.
For players who are content to play for modest jackpots without a lot of outlay, then the 5- and 6-spot games are ideal.
These games offer a good chance of hitting a decent payoff (about $800 and $1,600 for a solid 5- or 6-spot ticket, respectively, for four quarters bet). They also have enough "lower level" payoffs — 4-out-of-5, 4-out-of-6, 5-out-of-6, etc. — to ensure there is a decent payback so players aren’t simply feeding the machine.
The 7- and 8-spot games also offer good odds, especially for catching the "consolation" jackpot, which is 6-out-of-7 in the 7-spot game (which pays $400 for four quarters at odds of about 1,300-1), and 7-out-of-8 in the 8-spot game (a payoff of $1,652 for four quarters at odds of about 6,200-1).
Of course, the big attraction of the 7- and 8-spot tickets, as well as the higher-number games, is the chance of hitting a lottery-like jackpot. And, isn’t that what most of us want?
Toward that end, the 9-spot game offers the best of both worlds. It offers the chance of hitting a huge payoff (for catching either eight or all nine numbers), but also holds out a decent "consolation" payoff with a 7-out-of-9 jackpot.
The 7-out-of-9 jackpot pays a very respectable $335 (for four quarters bet) at odds of about 1,690-1. While the 6-out-of-7 jackpot of $400 has a smaller house edge (the odds are about 1,365-1), the opportunity to hit the 8-out-of-9 jackpot might make the 9-spot slightly more attractive than the 7-spot.
While it’s always possible to hit a solid 9-spot, most players should realistically hope to hit the 8-out-of-9 award. This one pays $4,700 for four quarters at odds of about 30,000-1.
Note that the odds of hitting the $4,700 jackpot is about 25 percent less than hitting a royal flush on a poker machine, but the payoff is a healthy seven-and-a-half times better!
Moreover, there are casinos around town that offer a progressive jackpot for the 9-spot game, which can range anywhere from $10,000 to $50,000. Obviously, the player’s edge increases as the jackpot climbs above the standard $10,000 payout for a solid nine (on a quarter machine).
My Cluster Keno system has been used to hit several 8-out-of-9 jackpots. The clusters or "zones" that were successful include an 8-number column coupled with a single, adjoining number; a solid three-by-three box; nine of 10 numbers on a horizontal row; and a U-shaped pattern with a single number connecting two four’s (see illustrations).
When playing Four Card Keno, there have been several patterns that have proved successful. One of them involves playing the first nine numbers and second nine numbers on a horizontal row. Once, this method actually hit two 8-out-of-9 spots on the same row!
Another method that has worked well is overlapping four 3-by-3 boxes. This often produces twin 7-out-of-9 winners, and an occasional 8-out-of-9 jackpot.
Four Card Keno and the newer Multi-Card Keno have lent themselves to experimenting. But I’ve found that the best bet is to overlap your cards, as I noted in previous articles. This way, when the "shared" numbers hit, there is the increased likelihood of multiple payoffs. Try it with your own numbers and see what you can hit!
(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)