The best way to enjoy keno is to realize going in that this is a classic game of chance. Similar in structure to bingo and other games derived from the original European lottos, keno results are based purely on luck and nothing more. This means players can’t determine the outcome of a game, increase their edge on the house, or give themselves better odds of winning.
With that said, knowing the odds associated with keno can help you understand the game a little better, which will help you make optimal decisions. The table below illustrates keno payouts for matching all of the numbers on a ticket, along with the probability of making that happen in the first place, and typical payouts awarded for a $1 wager:
Numbers Selected and Hit Odds of Hitting (1 in X) Average Payout on $1 Wager
10 out of 10 8,911,711 $25,000
9 out of 10 163,381 $4,000
8 out of 10 7,384 $1,000
7 out of 10 621 $140
6 out of 10 87 $20
8 out of 8 230,114 $25,000
7 out of 8 6,232 $1,480
6 out of 8 423 $90
7 out of 7 40,979 $8,100
6 out of 7 1,366 $400
6 out of 6 7,752 $1,480
5 out of 6 323 $90
As you can see, the jackpot scenario when playing keno occurs when you hit all of the numbers on a ticket. Choosing 10 numbers, however, makes this task significantly more difficult than when you choose 8 numbers, but the payouts for both are essentially the same. By selecting 10 numbers, you have a 1 in 8.9 million chance of matching them all and scoring a $25,000 payout (for a $1 wager). But lowering your ticket to eight selections drops your odds to just 1 in 230,000 or so, and while that’s still a tall order, it’s easier than the alternative by an order of magnitude.
With these numbers in mind, you probably realize by now that most experienced keno players use 6, 7, and 8 spot tickets, because these offer the most bang for their buck so to speak. By choosing between 6 and 8 numbers – rather than the maximum of 10 (along with 15 or 20 in some casinos) – you can still chase the jackpot payouts while facing a much less steep climb in terms of odds against.
One strategy to keep in mind while playing keno is to always steer clear of systems, formulas, and other keno strategies peddled online or by experts at your local casino. Dozens of services have popped up that purport to offer proven methods for cracking keno’s code, allowing players to choose certain numbers that appear more often in certain situations. Of course, this can’t possibly be true given the randomization of the 80 possible numbers, but people still fall for the trick nonetheless. Don’t give into temptation, and never forget that at its core, keno is a game of chance.
Another number to keep in mind when playing keno is 30 percent. This represents the average house edge on keno, and this makes it the worst bet in most casinos. Obviously, keno can still be an enjoyable experience and you should play whenever you feel up for a little gambling. But the best strategy to employ when playing games of chance with a poor house edge is to use discretion. Spend a few bucks, play a few tickets, and if you’re not a winner after the first few draws, put the pencil down and try your hand at slots, mini baccarat, or bingo.