Keno Systems and Way Tickets

Keno neon sign in Las Vegas
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Keno is often maligned as a bad bet, based on the high casino edge. Yes, the house edge is likely to be about 28 percent, but Keno is different than any other game in the casino. It isn't designed to be fast and furious like a hot craps game. The game was originally based on a Chinese lottery game, played twice a day.

In order to make the game more lively (and profitable), casino operators pushed the writing and paperwork to where each game could be played four or five times per hour. However, the house edge is still about 28 percent. Sure, that's a lot higher than most games, but a lot lower than the lotteries offered in most of the United States that keep 45-percent of every dollar taken in!

You might already know how to play Keno, but just the basics. In many ways, the game is like Bingo, with a large board full of numbers that you try to hit in order to win. However, Bingo is played against other players and you don't get to choose the numbers. In Keno, you choose your own numbers and you play only against the house.

Keno is Cheap

The greatest thing about Keno is that the game is very inexpensive to play. Like a day at the horse races there are only so many games played, and you can often bet as little as one dollar per game. Most casino brochures show how to make a $2 or $5 bet, but will allow you to bet just $1. And, you can bet Way Tickets just as cheap!

Way Tickets

A straight ticket is one where you choose from 1 to 15 numbers and win according to how many numbers hit. Obviously, on a 1 number ticket, you have to hit the number to win 3x your bet. On a 2 number ticket. you must hit both numbers for a 12x your bet payoff. However, as your picks get higher, your payoff may include times when you only hit some of your numbers, starting with 2 numbers on a three spot, which returns your bet, or 42x your bet if you hit all three.

A way ticket is one that includes more than one set of numbers as a bet. Since a Keno ticket has numbers 1 to 80, you might bet your favorite numbers 2,19 and 37 as a three-spot, but also your spouse's favorite five numbers, 3, 11, 41, 42, 43 as a five-spot. This ticket has two ways to win on the same game. You could also include both the sets of numbers for an eight-spot that consisted of your numbers and your spouse's numbers. Now you would have a ticket with three ways to win.You choose your wager amount for each way. And, at a club that allows a $1 straight ticket, they usually allow a way-ticket to be just 25-cents per way, making your ticket just 75-cents a game.

190-Way Eight

For many years the 190-way eight was a very popular ticket. And, many casinos still allow a player to play the 120-way ten and the 190-way eight for just 10-cents per way.

On a 190-way eight, every number is covered, and every possible way of making an eight-spot is included (yes, there are 190 ways to do that). Since this is a 190-way ticket at 10-cents per way, the total cost for one game is $19. The 120-way ten costs $12.

Unless otherwise noted in the Keno rules, way tickets, regardless of their cost per way, pay the same as other games, so a 10-cent way pays 1/10th of the $1 straight ticket. A winning eight-spot may pay as much as $1,800 on that simple 10-cent way ticket.

Tickets Expire

In the past, because Keno was done completely by hand, you had to collect your winnings from your game before the next game started. Today, most casinos honor their tickets for 30-days. Check before you leave the Keno counter!

Multiple Games

Because games are now entered into a computer system, you can play multiple games (called Multi-race tickets) and check your winnings later. Multi-race games are also likely to be available at a reduced rate. 100-game tickets often may be played for 10-cents per game or per way. Some players like to play a 100-game ticket at the start of their vacation and forget about the games—waiting until the 100-games have passed before checking to see if they won.

Playing a 100-game multi-race ticket with an eight-spot for 10-cents per game runs just $10. That's a cheap bet for a chance to go home with $1,800 if it hits, and a six or seven-spot hit will get you some cash too. In addition, some Keno operators offer special tickets, perhaps an eight-spot with a super payoff for the eight-spot but nothing for lower hits. Make sure you know what the payoffs are before you leave.

Keno is a fun, relaxing game that you can play for a few dollars while you rest or have a leisurely dinner. A way ticket can allow everyone in your dinner party a chance to join in the fun without costing more than a few dollars. It's one of the casinos best bargains for the possible payoffs, even if the house edge is high.