Keno can be played anywhere in a casino, but the game is located in the keno lounge. The keno lounge is a comfortable area set apart from the ringing bells, snapping cards, and clattering balls of the casino. Keno is often found by accident. Most people stumble in with hurting feet, tired of wandering the maze of tables and machines. It takes them a few minutes to adjust to the peacefulness, but soon they’re ordering free drinks and playing keno specials.
The lounge has tables and chairs or desks arranged in rows, facing a large electronic display board. The display shows eighty numbers, and it highlights those that have been selected. Below the board is an area where wagers are made and the game is conducted.
Ticket forms will be everywhere in the lounge. You’ll also easily find a glossy brochure with the various payouts. The basic keno bet is the straight ticket which is a single set of numbers. Look at the brochure and decide how many numbers you want to play. The minimum bet on a straight ticket is usually one dollar. Larger bets win more. Unlike other games the winnings are in direct proportion to the additional amount wagered. A two dollar bet doubles the one dollar payout. There is no bonus for betting extra money as with video poker.
Use the provided crayon to mark an X over each of the numbers you choose. Write the amount wagered, the number of games and the number of spots in the appropriate spaces on the form. You will then need to take the ticket to the desk. A keno “writer” will take your money, process the ticket, and return a printed copy.
Now just grab a seat, order a free drink, and relax. A new keno game begins about every five minutes. The drawing takes approximately thirty seconds. You’ve seen something like it in bingo halls or on TV during the state lottery draw. Air pushes the Ping-Pong type balls around in a container. Gradually they are trapped one by one in a device called a gooseneck (a clear tube). As the balls are trapped one of the keno writers will call out the numbers printed on the balls. The numbers will be displayed on the big board and on closed circuit video screens throughout the casino. Some casinos have new electronic versions without the balls, but most still use the traditional system. Perhaps plastic balls seem more benign and trustworthy than computer chips.
Make sure you check your ticket. If it’s a winner, then one of the most important keno rules becomes very significant. In many casinos you must redeem the ticket before the next game begins. Otherwise it is invalid. No exceptions. This rule was once universal, but some casinos have recently extended the time to hours and some cases days for redeeming single game tickets. Multiple game tickets have other rules. The important thing is to know exactly how much time is allowed to redeem your ticket. If you don’t know assume it must be redeemed before the next game starts.
One of the most annoying aspects of playing a state lottery is when the winning numbers is composed entirely from three or four of your choices. Experienced lottery players avoid this by betting on every possible combination of a particular set of numbers. Unfortunately, a lottery player must write every wager separately.
Keno has a way of making that easier. It’s appropriately called a way ticket. To create a set of numbers you circle, marked numbers in groups and a notation indicates how many bets have been placed. The notation is in the form similar to 4/3. The top number is the number of bets and the bottom number is the number of spots. The 4/3 means three spots four ways. A ticket with notations of 4/3, 1/12, 4/6 and 6/6 means that it is one ticket with a total of fifteen bets for a fifteen dollars total. You could write fifteen straight tickets but the way ticket allow you to save time and ensures that you will not miss a combination. This ticket also pays on as few as two spots, depending on which numbers are drawn. A straight ticket with twelve numbers wouldn’t pay on anything less than six spots.
Casinos allow the minimum wager per way to be less than what would be required for the same bet on a straight ticket. The more ways you bet, the lower the price for each way. Some tickets are only ten cents per way. The keno brochure will have the exact pricing information.
The payout on each winning combination is reduced in direct proportion when the bet amount is reduced. If all eight numbers were to catch for a ticket, and you bet a lower amount per way. The top prize would be $11,000 instead of $22,000. The other fourteen wagers would win too, but the total would be only $14,384. What happens if four numbers catch? The one dollar straight bet would pay nothing. The way ticket could win some money. A way ticket will increase your chances of winning and allows you to spend less per way, but at a lower total possible payout.
It is possible to combine multiple straight bets into one ticket even when they are not wagered various ways. This is called a combination. Two sets of numbers are divided by a hard line drawn across the card. Both sets are played straight, although you can combine a straight bet and a way bet on the same ticket.