Working the machine

Nov 1, 2004 11:37 PM

A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned that one of the principles of my Cluster Keno system is "re-setting" the keno machine. I have been asked to elaborate, which I shall do, and further explain how Cluster Keno works toward hitting jackpots.

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 alluded to this last week when I mentioned that video keno is different than live keno, in which players often mark their card 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.

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 the jackpots seem to hit in the early part of the cycle.

Recently, there have been new games hitting the market. Four Card Keno and Multi-Card Keno (up to 20 cards) have become very popular. But I’ve noticed that these games can sometimes fall into a losing slump. 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."

With these newer games, I’ve found that taking re-setting one step further has proven lucrative. Specifically, on both the Four Card Keno and 20-card keno games, I’ve found that exiting the game and going to the "outside" display (where you pick the game and/or denomination), and then returning to the game, can sometimes kick-start the program.

When you exit and return, you have to re-bet, that is, make your bet and re-mark your numbers. But sometimes this extra amount of re-setting can do the trick.

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 ten 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’ll be able to give you more specific examples next time.

(L.J. Zahm is the author of Cluster Keno: Using the Zone System to Win at Video Keno. You can pick up a copy at the Gamblers Book Shop or Gamblers General Store in Las Vegas.)