It is played typically at casinos around the world, especially in Australia, and in terms of house edge, or the advantage that the casino or gaming club has over the player, keno has the highest at 35% when not played conservatively.
But this is precisely what makes the game so rewarding if the player wins big. Because it is a lottery, it features huge payouts when a player wins big. The thing is that the player has to be willing to make big risks. One thing is for sure, if you are not the type of player that who likes to wager money through high risk bets that have a minimal chance of a giant payout, then the game of keno is not one you want to play.
However, if you fancy yourself a big risk taker and have the bankroll to lose a few bucks here and there, or if winning big only once in a while can sustain you for long periods of time, then keno is your game.
But the odds aren’t all geared so completely toward the casino or gaming house. In fact, it is possible to play a conservative form of keno that brings the house edge all the way down to four percent.
Because the game of keno is essentially a lottery within a casino (although many states and countries around the world actually have a government sponsored keno lottery) the rules are pretty simple and easy to learn, but here’s a little rundown anyway.
A typical game of keno at any given casino involves a glass case, usually circular, and it will contain 80 balls numbered appropriately one through 80. In order for a person to play, they must obtain a keno ticket that contains a grid on it with the numbers one through 80. In order for the player to make a bet, they must write an “S” over the desired numbers that they wish to wager on.
Once the bets are all made, it is time for the number draw to begin. When the drawing begins, a device within the glass case that contains the 80 balls will begin “blowing” the balls, mixing and swirling them all along the inside of the glass container.
A proctor, or “caller,” will then push a lever that opens up a tube. From there, the balls are selected one by one and dropped into a v-shaped catch. This catch is known in keno parlance as “rabbit ears.” Once the appropriate amount of balls are loaded onto the rabbit ears (20), both the caller and an additional “verifier” will record each of the balls that were drawn. Once that’s done, a computer program made specifically for the game of keno will calculate all of the bets based on the numbers that were drawn.
This procedure can vary from casino to casino. For example, at some casinos, the ball numbers will be called out as they are drawn regardless of whether or not players are still waiting to make bets.
At each casino, there are what are known as paytables, and these are basically pay scales that are based on the players success in betting. What this means is that players are paid differently based on how many numbers they correctly wagered would be drawn from the glass container. The more numbers that are landed, the better the player is paid. And of course, there is no payment to a player if no numbers are guessed correctly.
The odds are based on how many numbers a player plays, so the more balls a player chooses, or wagers on, the better the odds of landing a few of them on the draw. All casinos have different methods of payout, so there is no way to assess a singular payout equation from house to house, but there have been times when a “catch,” or win, of no numbers has paid out money on a ticket, though this occurrence is rare.
Furthermore, there has never been an example in all of human history (or since the invention of the game, rather) when a player has hit all 20 numbers in one play. In fact, the odds of that happening are one in 3.5 quintillion. For those of you who are curious, that’s a three, a five, and then 17 zeros after that. So statistically, it is just about as close to impossible as it gets.
One example to express how impossible it would be to bet on and catch all 20 numbers on a single play is to say that if all seven billion people currently living on Earth played the game of keno and bet 20 numbers per game per every second their lives, there would maybe be one example of one person catching all 20 numbers once. Not once a month. Not once a year. Once.
But this is not to say that it is impossible to win money playing the game of keno. In fact, there are many bets in which a players odds of winning are only one in 4,877, and that is the odds of catching four numbers.
There is also a bet in which a player can wager that they will hit no numbers. This bet, if won, pays out huge because the odds of winning it are one in 843,380. All in all, if you can stomach the thought of a high risk game, or even if it’s the sort of thing that only excites you here and there, then the game of keno can be a fun gambling experience.