A bushel of 6-spot tickets

Nov 1, 2004 11:42 PM

Consider two different 28 way six spot way tickets, one with 24 spots and the other with only eight spots total. One made sixes by combining groups of three while the other made sixes by combining kings, or one spot groups.

Conventional keno wisdom will tell you that the king ticket with only eight spots on it is the better ticket to play, because conventional keno wisdom is that the fewer numbers that you play, the better! As a matter of fact, I’ll bet that seven or eight out of 10 keno writers will pick the king ticket as the better ticket.

But let’s look at the facts:


Odds for one against:

Catch 24 spot 8 spot

6 / 6 283.2 395.0

5 / 6 15.8 48.0

4 / 6 2.5 9.8

3 / 6 1.3 3.2


You can see that you are 1.4 times more likely to hit a six spot solid on the groups of threes than on the king ticket! In addition, you are about three times as likely to hit a five out of six on the groups of threes, with similar ratios on the smaller catches! What is going on, how can this be, and is the conventional keno wisdom wrong?

I have told you previously that there is no way to change the house percentage on a keno ticket, except by overloading it (a topic we covered previously) and in any case overloading a ticket only increases the house edge, and neither of these tickets are overloaded. The house percentage is the same on both of these tickets. What is going on is that it is far easier to hit one solid six using the groups of three, while it is far easier to hit multiple solid sixes on the king ticket. (As you can see you would have to hit a solid nine to hit multiple solid sixes on the trey way ticket, while a mere seven out of eight will produce seven solid sixes on the king ticket. To get even six solid sixes on the trey way ticket, you would have to hit a solid twelve (3-3-3-3). This is how the scales are balanced; one ticket pays more often while the other pays less often but pays more when hit.

Both tickets have the same house percentage. Both tickets will, over the long run (millions of games), pay out the same amount of winnings for the same amount wagered, so is the conventional keno wisdom flawed? Yes, I think so. The reason is that we all play with a fixed finite bankroll. Since the 24 spot trey way ticket pays out more often, we therefore have a much better chance of hitting something on it BEFORE we go broke! Since most of us don’t have the bankroll to play those millions of games, we might not ever see the long run!