In keno the objective of the game is to match as many numbers as possible on a betting ticket following a random draw of 20 numbers. A keno ticket contains an 8x10 grid arranged into 8 rows and 10 columns, with each square containing a number ordered sequentially from 1 to 80.
Players begin by selecting anywhere from 1 to 15 numbers, using a crayon or pencil to mark off their chosen spots. Along with their numbers, players also write in a wager amount, with the minimum bet in most keno lounges starting at just $1. Finally, players can opt to utilize the same selection of numbers for multiple draws, and this is known as a multi-race ticket.
The completed betting ticket is then handed to a keno runner, who transfers the ticket to a writer. The writer enters the information on the ticket into the casino’s system, before issuing an official betting slip for the player to hold. Players are expected to review this official betting slip closely, as it takes precedence over the informal betting ticket. In the event that an error is made, players simply inform the keno runner of the mistake, and they in turn let the writer know so that a new betting slip can be issued.
A traditional game of live keno begins with a randomized draw (called the race) from the bubble, an enclosed Plexiglas chamber containing balls numbered 1-80. As the draw proceeds, a blower fills the chamber with air to mix the balls and achieve randomization. The caller is a casino employee tasked with pulling a lever and opening a v-shaped suction tube known as the rabbit ears. This tube collects one ball at a time until 20 numbers have been selected, and the results for that draw are then posted in the keno lounge and throughout the casino floor on television screens.
Keno payouts occur when one or more of the 20 numbers drawn matches a selection from a players betting ticket. A matched number is usually referred to as a catch. Because players have the option of selecting anywhere from 1 to 10 numbers, there are various payout tables for tickets containing various selections and catches. For example, you can pick just a single number on a ticket, and when you catch that number from among the 20 balls drawn, you’ll earn a 3:1 return for every dollar you wager.
When you pick five numbers, however, the payouts change considerably. A minimum of two catches out of five is needed to collect a 1:1 return on your bet. Catching three out of five pays at 3:1, four out of five results in a 20:1 return, and catching five out of five pays out $290 for every dollar risked.
You can also bet on groups of numbers and this variation of keno is known as way or combination betting. Endless combinations of way betting are in play for keno, and if you want to expand your selections with this alternate bet, further research into the concept is highly recommended.
One more rule to keep in mind when playing keno involves the timeframes in which you can collect on winning tickets. The majority of casinos offer a late pay window for players to cash in winning keno tickets from previous races. Generally speaking, a winning multi-race ticket played for 21 races or more can be cashed in for up to 1 year. For tickets played in under 21 races, the late-pay rules can vary, so it’s always best to check with your keno runner to find out about local late-pay windows.