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Keno Odds and Probabilities

Keno Odds and Payout Percentages

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To understand keno odds, you first need to understand how the game is played. The game of keno employs 80 balls that are numbered 1 through 80. During each draw the house draws 20 balls at random and displays their numbers on video screen or digital boards, called keno boards.

The results of the draw are also displayed on video screens that located throughout the casino and in the keno lounge pay off depending on various modes of play.

The object of the keno game is to choose numbers that are direct hits. These twenty numbers are on balls which are drawn randomly from a hopper. The balls are mixed together and then read by a casino dealer.

Keno Odds - Keno ProbabilitiesIf you are playing online, then the numbers will more than likely be selected by a RNG, which is simply an acronym for a computerized program known as a random number generator. Usually players use special black markers or crayons for marking the ticket and then you take it to a teller, called a keno writer in the United Kingdom, where it is verified and replicated as a computerized ticket.

Best Odds Keno Bets

So what are your best bets when it comes to playing keno? The answer is not straightforward, as usually each casino has its own casino brochure which helps you decide how much to bet on each ticket.

Most casinos do include some betting bonuses in their pay out schedule, but in general (and keep in mind that this is just a guideline) most keno payout schedules look something like this:

Play 6 numbers (spots)

Catch Play $1 Play $2 Play $3
3 $1 $2 $5
4 $8 $16 $40
5 $50 $100 $250
6 $1500 $3000 $7500

"Play 6 numbers" refers to the payoffs won when you mark the winning 6 numbers on your keno ticket. "Numbers" are also sometimes called "spots".

For instance, if you play five numbers you are said to be "playing a five-spot". If you play six numbers you are playing a “six spot.” You can play as many or as few numbers – the above payout schedule is just an example of what a keno payout schedule might look at.

The term $1 means you can bet $1 on your ticket. From looking at the above payout table you can see why Keno is so popular. It is actually possible to make $1500 by placing a $1 bet.

There is no strategic advantage to betting more than the minimum recommended in the casino’s keno payout schedule; the payoffs simply mirror the scale of your bet.

If you "only" catch 5 numbers your payoff will always be substantially less, and so on, down to a $1 payoff for catching any 3 of the 6 you selected. However, if you catch fewer than 3 numbers, your ticket is pretty much worthless. As the payoff table shows, if you play 6 numbers and catch all 6, a $1 ticket will return $1500. However the odds of this happening are about 7500 to 1.

How to Increase Your Odds of Winning

So, how do you logically increase your odds when playing keno? It may seem that the key is to play as many numbers as you can as cheaply as you can.

However, one drawback of playing as many numbers as possible is that the more numbers you mark the more you have to get exactly dead on in order for you to score anything. The biggest mistake made by beginning players is playing too many numbers at first – this is one way that the casinos can suck your money away from you.

When it comes to keno there is only one universal truth – the odds are the same no matter what you play. The payoffs are set such that in dollar terms the house percentage is pretty much the same regardless of how many numbers are won.

In addition your true odds of winning at keno – striking ten out ten numbers are in keno the odds against picking 10 out of 10 numbers are 8,911,702-1. Payouts in lotteries, bingo and keno vary depending on the number of tickets sold in each game, but the keno pay out is $2 million-less than a quarter of the odds against the house.

Odds of Winning the Top Prize

1 selected number 3 to 1
2 selected numbers 15.63 to 1
3 selected numbers 71.07 to 1
4 selected numbers 325 to 1
5 selected numbers 1549 to 1
6 selected numbers 7752 to 1
7 selected numbers 40878 to 1
8 selected number 230,114 to 1
9 selected numbers 1,389,686 to 1
10 selected numbers 8,911,702 to 1

Sometimes there is bonus for making off a lot of numbers (such as 15) if you hit a certain number. In most casinos, that winning bonus number is the number 0. If you happen to be in a casino and there are keno games offering a bonus, then your best winning strategy is to play the bonus number (or numbers) as often as you can.

There's a great article about keno odds on this site also, if you want to get another perspective on the subject.

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