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Keno Terms and Definitions

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Keno is an easy game to learn, though the terminology of the game might be a little tricky at first. Keno is a lottery style game, so people who’ve filled out lotto tickets should learn the game quickly. A few keno terms reference its origins in the Macao region of China. Keno appears to have been played by Chinese immigrants to the United States in the 1860’s, where the game first entered a Houston casino. We provide both terms and definitions below. If you have any questions after reading the glossary, please contact the customer support for this site. You might also be interested in learning about new keno games here or read our detailed explanation of keno here.

All or Nothing – A keno ticket which only pay if you either hit all the numbers you selected, or if none of the numbers selected get picked.

Blower – A see-through plexiglas bubble used for the drawing. The balls are blown through a tube.

Boc Hop Bu – 19th century name for keno, from the Cantonese pronunciation (baak-hap-biu) of baige piao, the original pronunciation in Macao.

Bubble – A dome-like container of see-through plastic which contains the keno balls. Sometimes called a hopper. Closely connected to the blower.

Caller – A staff member who calls out winner numbers when they are drawn.

Cage – Container which holds the keno balls before the drawing.

Catch – When you catch a number, that means one of the numbers you choose won.

Glossary of Keno TermsCombination Way Ticket – A ticket which has bets several different ways, so you can spread your betting over several combinations.

Draw Sheet – A summary of the numbers drawn in the previous drawing. Holes are punched in the sheet to make verification simple.

Drawing – A drawing of 20 random winning numbers out of a possible 80 numbers.

High End Ticket – A ticket which pays more for more numbers, but less for low numbers. This game has more volatility. (See our page about high roller keno.)

Hit – When one of your numbers if a winning number.

House Edge – The percent of keno wagers the casino expects to win. Wild variations occur, but the house edge and the results should roughly coincide over a long time.

Keno Ball – The balls drawn from the cage. Eighty balls are used, each numbered between 1 and 80. These look like bingo balls or perhaps table tennis balls.

Keno Board – An electronic scoreboard which shows the numbers as they are drawn.

Keno Counter – The place bets are made and winnings are collected.

Keno Lounge – The part of a casino where keno is played. Usually a separate room.

Keno Runner – Casino personnel who walk the casino floor taking keno tickets or paying off winners.

Keno Writers – Members of the staff who write down bets, print keno tickets, and pay off the winners.

King – Single circled number. Used with other number to make a bet.

King Ticket – A ticket containing one or more kings.

Live Keno – Land-based games with multiple players in which drawings are live, as opposed to RNG keno at an online site.

Limit – The max amount a casino pays out to all winners any given drawing.

Multi-Game Ticket – A ticket which can be used on more than one drawing.

Net Win – The winning amount after the deducting the price of the original ticket. Equivalent of net profits instead of gross revenues.

Number Pool – The range of numbers which players can choose for betting. The most common numbers pool offers a range of 1 through 80.

Odds – The mathematical probability an outcome is going to happen.

Online Keno – Keno played on the Internet through a computer interface, using a random number generator to determine results.

Payout Schedule – A chart which shows how much each winning combination pays. Also called the payout table.

Progressive Jackpot – Type of keno variant where the top prize increases with each drawing that prize isn’t won. No upper limit to this jackpot exists, though probability suggests a certain expected range.

Puck-Apu – 19th century name for keno.

Quick Pick – Tickets chosen by the computer instead of manually by the player.

Quine – The French word for “five winning numbers”, a possible root word for keno.

Race – A single keno drawing.

Spots – Numbers chosen by a player. These range from 1 to 80. The more spots one chooses, the more expensive the ticket, but the greater your probability of winning.

Straight Keno – The original, basic way to play keno. You mark numbers on a ticket.

The Call – The intercom announcement of the winning numbers.

The House – An alternative name for a casino.

Video Keno – Single-player keno played on a gaming machine. Online keno is similar to video keno, since both games require a random number generator to produce results.

Way – A keno bet on the ticket which shows more than one wager.

Way Ticket – Keno ticket with more than one bet on the same drawing.

White Dove Ticket – The meaning of “baige piao”, due to the most likely apocryphal story that results were flown to villages from Macao by carrier pigeon.

Winning Numbers – The twenty numbers drawn, out of 80 potential numbers.

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