Know when to play ‘small’

Sep 27, 2004 12:31 PM

In the last few weeks I have explained to you that any keno ticket under five spots should be avoided if you want to play keno for any reason other than entertainment. Simply stated, these tickets just don’t pay enough to cover the house "vig" or percentage in the long run. Therefore, you stand very little chance of walking out the door a winner when your playing session is over.

That being said, are there any legitimate reasons for playing ones, twos, threes or fours? Yes.

The first reason you might play one of these tickets is for the aforementioned entertainment value. Maybe you just don’t care about wasting a few bucks, or you just want to try your luck a little bit while enjoying a meal. No big deal as long as you realize that this is a sure losing proposition in the long run. Or maybe you have a favorite keno runner, cocktail waitress or bartender and you want to play a few tickets for them. Again, no big deal, this is in the realm of tipping a few bucks, and these smaller tickets are perfect for this. Or maybe you want to sit at the bar, have a few cocktails and play a little keno. The bigger ticket you play, the more chance that the keno game will send you a few drink tickets. You might add a few deuces to your six-, eight- or 10-spot and create a "bar ticket." Again, no problem as long as you’re aware that these deuces are also long term losers.

Another (and mathematically viable) reason to play ones, twos, threes or fours is when you have a very short bankroll. Although I recommend playing five-spots or more when playing keno seriously to win, this in practical play requires a bankroll of at least a hundred dollars. If you have a short bankroll it may make some sense to play a ticket with a top payoff near your bankroll amount. If your bankroll is $5 or less, try a one spot. If your roll is approximately $10 to $20, try a two spot, etc. Doing this will maximize your chance of winning if you have a short bankroll.

As a sidebar, some older keno writers used to believe that the way to win at keno was to play big money on small amounts of spots, instead of playing small wagers on more numbers. Âí­Although this judgement was intuitive, it was only partially correct. As a matter of fact, it is the reverse that is true. If you want to win playing small numbers (ones, twos, threes or fours) the ONLY way that you have a chance of winning in the long run is to play a lot of money on these tickets. You must play at least enough money on a small number ticket to provide a win multiple larger than your bankroll. In this case intuition provided a clue, but the cause was actually the effect, and vice-versa.

Next week we’ll take a look at five-spot tickets, their petals and their thorns, and why I think that they’re the best keno ticket to play. That’s it for this week, good luck, I’ll see you in line!