Beware When Casino Pulls Keno Game

Nov 8, 2004 11:27 PM

Over the past several months I’ve been playing keno, mostly Four Card Keno and Multi-Card Keno, at a small, boutique-type casino just off the Strip. I like the place because the staff is friendly and I can usually play my favorite machine without throwing a few elbows.

Then, without warning, the management removed the Multi-Card Keno game from the Game King machines. I asked what was happening and was simply told that there was a "glitch" in the game and that the manufacturer was fixing it.

After a couple of weeks, the game returned to the machine, and it was back to playing as usual. I think. You never know what goes on when the manufacturer makes a change in the computer chip (if that’s what they did) that determines the game’s outcome.

This is similar to a situation that happened earlier in the year at one of my favorite downtown casinos. Here’s what happened. Apparently, players who used our keno pattern published in this column were winning big jackpots playing 20 Card Keno.

The casino paid out so many jackpots, all of which used the same cluster pattern, that it pulled the Multi Card Keno game from the floor.

Technically, the machines weren’t actually hauled off the floor. But the game was dismantled from the Gaming King machines that housed them.

Rumor has it that the casino wanted the manufacturer, IGT, to review the game to ensure that the payoffs were indeed random, and that the machine’s software was not compromised.

When the games were returned to the floor, they were available only in 1¡ and 2¡ denominations. The nickel games were gone, thus eliminating the high jackpots that probably drove the games from the floor.

Since then, I’ve often been asked about what kind of jackpots were hitting before the games were pulled. Here’s a recap.

Over the course of about 72 hours, one player hit more than $25,000 in jackpots while playing Four Card Keno on the IGT Game King, multi-denominational machines.

The major jackpots, all verifiable with W-2G IRS statements included: $1,877, $5,062, $4,000, $10,124 and $3,366. The grand total of W-2 jackpots was $24,429. The actual winnings were in excess of $25,000, which included a $700-plus jackpot (which fell under the W-2’s radar).

In a nutshell here’s how it occurred:

On day one, the player started playing a cluster of four 7-spot cards, which were marked within the 3-by-4 box of numbers.

The machine was set for nickel denomination (on these machines you can set it for 5-cent, 10-cent, 20-cent, 25-cent, 50-cent and $1 denominations, with up to four coins bet per card).

At the start, the player was using only two coins per card for a total of eight coins bet (40 cents) per game.

After moving the cluster around a few times, it finally hit seven-out-of-seven for a payoff of more than $700, which also included a 6-of-7 and a couple of minor awards.

The player than moved up to quarter-denomination Four Card Keno on another Game King machine. Using the same basic configuration of four seven-spot cards, she eventually hit a six-out-of-seven jackpot for $100 (this was on a one coin, 25 cents, card).

Then she decided to try a different seven-spot pattern that is configured using the "outside" numbers on an entire row.

It didn’t take long before she hit six-of-seven for $100, then on the very next game the machine filled in seven-of-seven ($1,750), six-of-seven on another card ($100), five-of-seven on another ($22) and four-of-seven on the last card (50 cents), for a grand payoff of $1,877.50.

Actually, that would be her final seven-spot jackpot, but it was the beginning of bigger and better things. With the added bankroll, she was able to experiment with different Four Card combinations, as well as move up to $1 per card from her modest 25 cents/game.

The returns were immediate. The next day, she began playing multiple nine-spots at $1 per game, which basically included marking the first and last nine numbers in the 10-number row.

After about an hour’s play, she hit eight-out-of-ninefor a jackpot of $4,700, which, coupled to the other payoffs on the same line (seven-of-nine, etc.), brought the total jackpot to $5,062.

Later that same morning, she played similar configurations of nine-spot tickets, but could only hit a few seven-of-nine winners; not bad, but not the big money she’d grown accustomed to!

A little later she put all her eggs in one basket, so to speak, by betting only one card, but at four times the price. That is, she bet $4 on one 10-spot ticket, using the entire 40’s row of numbers.

Her reasoning paid off when the machine filled in 8-of-10 for a nice jackpot of $4,000.

Her final two jackpots occurred the next day. The first was a whopper, and it basically followed the same game plan as the eight-of-nine winner won earlier. Only this time, she played only two overlapping cards (two nine-spots) on the same row, but at $2 per game. When the eight-of-nine filled in, it paid off $9,400 plus the other minor jackpot for a grand total of $10,124.

Later that day, she played a few clustered 8-spot tickets, which often produces a nice win with seven-out-of-eight numbers. That was the case when the machine lined up seven-of-eight while again playing $2 per card for a healthy award of $3,366.

(L.J. Zahn 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.)

Get signed up for a VIP account today to enjoy all we have to offer.

At Gaming Today we are dedicated to providing valuable up-to-date information on the casino industry and pari-mutuel race wagering. With news and features, plus expanded coverage in key areas – race and sports analysis, picks, tips, and handicapping.