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Last Updated: January 20, 2016

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Keno

Introduction

Keno is a simple game of luck, much like most lottery games, where the player chooses numbers and hope as many as possible match those randomly drawn by a hopper or machine. The simple form with no multipliers or extra balls is called spot keno. See the Internal Links section below for many keno variants.

Rules

Following are the rules for basic "spot keno."

  1. The player makes a wager and indicates which numbers he wishes to pick. The picks are made on a slip of paper in live keno and by touching the screen in video keno. The range of numbers the player may pick from is 1 to 80.
  2. The number of picks the player may make depends on the game itself. Usually the range is 2 to 10 or 1 to 15.
  3. The game will randomly choose 20 out of 80 balls.
  4. If the game chooses a number the player chose that is known as a "catch." The player is paid according to the number of balls he catches.

I have several examples of pay tables and their associated return in my page on spot keno.

Keno Variants

There are lots of keno variations out there. I have analyzed many of them, as listed below.

Calculators

We have calculators to determine the payback for any pay table for the following keno games:

Surveys

In 2001, I did a survey of every live keno casino game in Las Vegas. The returns ranged from 65% to 80%. In other words, the house edge was 20% to 35%, making live keno among the worst bets you can make in Las Vegas.

In 2012 I did a similar survey of live keno in Laughlin, which showed a range of return of 50% to 74%.

In 2008 I did a survey of video keno in San Diego. The returns ranged from 84% to 95%.

In 2017 I redid my Las Vegas video keno survey, which can be found at Wizard of Vegas.

Advice

If you must play keno, the only skill is choosing where to play to play and then how many numbers to choose. It makes no difference which numbers you choose. Contrary to popular myth, legitimate keno games, like those in Las Vegas, are fair and every ball has a 1 in 80 chance of being drawn each game. To determine the odds of any keno game you can use my keno calculator. Just put in the pay table and you will see how much you can expect to get back every bet.

However, I tend to think anybody who would take the trouble to analyze the game is probably not playing it in the first place. The odds in video keno are about as bad as slot machines. If you want to lose a lot less money gambling I would highly recommend converting to video poker. For live keno players, I would suggest converting to bingo.

Practice Game

Get your keno fix right here on my practice game.

Scouting Guide

When you're in the casino it would take a long time to put in every pay table through my many calculators above to determine the best game to play. That is why I created two printer-friendly guides you can print out and take with you:

  • My Keno Scouting Guide is a short reference to the best available game for any pay table for all the most popular forms of keno. Each game has a table showing the possible pick-10 pay tables available and the best number of picks for that game and its return. See the last page of the guide for a full explanation how to use it.
  • My Full Pay Table Report is a longer guide showing every known pay table for all the major keno games and their associated return. For those who want to know the return for any number of picks, not just the best number (which the Keno Scouting Guide provides).

For a printer-friendly document showing keno pay tables and returns for several major keno games please see my Keno Scouting Guide (PDF). Perfect for printing and taking to the casino to find the best game and pay table available.

Internal Links

Keno games by U1 Gaming

Following are keno games by U1 Gaming.

Videos

This video shows how to calculate the odds in keno using Excel.

External Links


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