Keno is one of the easiest games to play. It can be played at most land based casinos, clubs, pubs and online. There is no skill needed, a very simple strategy at most, a small outlay but potential for big winnings! What makes this game so popular is that anyone can play it, and everyone has the same chance of winning the jackpot.
Traditionally, keno was often associated with going to pubs and clubs, so that a casual game can be played while having a few drinks with friends, or to simply pass time, relax and chill out – such is the simplicity of the game. With the advent of the internet, keno has now branched onto online keno which offers a few more special features.
Keno is a game that remains very popular amongst casino players as well as recreational social players.
Let’s delve into the history of keno.
Keno originated from China, it’s specific era and location unknown, however some suggest it was invented to finance the building of the Great Wall of China. The game was created whereby people could pick sets of characters from a sheet of paper, and a random set of characters would be chosen from a pool. If they guessed that random set drawn correctly they would win a prize. The Chinese name given was “bai ge piao” which literally means white dove ticket. It was believed that it was given this name because white pigeons were required to communicate the results of the draw to villagers.
Through Chinese migration, the game was introduced to the US and was westernised with the name Keno. It gained in popularity and was soon included as a game offered at American casinos. It is often mistaken as a game that is the same as bingo, however, they are very much different games in how it is played.
The game is now common across the US as well as around the world. As technology advances, the form of the game has changed in offering. The classical paper based method is still available, but now there is also, electronic machines using digital random generated numbers and of course there is also online and mobile gaming. Keno has become extremely popular, especially on the internet.
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The Mission of Keno
In the game of keno, the objective for the player is to guess what numbers will be selected from a pool of numbers. If the player can correctly guess the numbers randomly drawn (or guess some of the numbers), the player wins a jackpot or a cash prize. To participate in the game, an amount needs to be paid (like an entrance fee) to the keno operator (usually a casino, club, pub, mobile or online operator). If an insufficient amount of numbers are guessed correctly then no cash prize is won.
Pool of numbers
The pool of numbers contains 80 numbers. The numbers are consecutive and start from 1 through to 80.
From the pool of numbers, 20 of them are chosen randomly. There are many ways that the numbers can be chosen randomly. As a form of entertainment, numbers can be shown to be selected through the use of a ball machine. The ball machine contains 80 balls numbered from 1 to 80. Sometimes someone physically rotates the ball machine and mixes the 80 balls providing that visual entertainment. 20 balls are then randomly selected from the ball machine by a host. As the numbers are drawn, players can watch in excitement as they tick off any correct guesses. This is just one way of drawing numbers that was made entertaining.
There are, of course, many other ways to randomly select 20 numbers from a pool of 80. In the digital format, an algorithm is used to generate 20 numbers randomly. Perhaps not as exciting as a host commenting as they draw numbers from a ball machine, but it has the same effect and outcome. Online keno behaves very much in the same way, and can even offer a larger winning jackpot as it can pool many players from around the world together.
If the player has guessed all the numbers (which has never happened), or even guess some of the numbers drawn, they will win the jackpot or the prize! The amount of winnings correlates to how many numbers were guessed correctly.
How to play Keno!
Classical – with paper and pencil
The classical method of playing keno is with a paper keno card and with a pencil to mark the numbers on the paper, then submit it. It’s very easy and simple, only takes a few minutes, can be done in private or with friends. Because of this convenience, Keno quickly became a popular game that also spread out to community clubs.
The keno card
At a land based casino or venue that offers keno games there will be a table available with keno cards on it. These cards are for playing live keno. Live keno is described as using a ball machine (or any non electronic method) to draw numbers out.
The cards have the numbers 1 to 80 shown in a grid. For ease of referencing numbers 1 to 40 are on the top half of the card and numbers 41 to 80 are at the bottom half of the card.
Completing the keno card
The player takes a keno card from the table and completes it by selecting numbers. There are usually pencils or crayons provided for the convenience of the player so that he can mark the numbers on the keno card.
Marking the numbers is usually with an “X” or by circling them.
The classical game requires up to a maximum of 20 numbers to be chosen. The player can choose any combination of the 20 numbers. Each number has the same probability as the next number of being drawn.
Once the player has marked 20 numbers on the keno card, it is then submitted at a booth that accepts the card for processing and also accepts the wager.
Random number generators
After all submissions are processed, the drawing of the balls randomly will begin. All players are given a time notice of when submissions are needed to be made by, a cut off time.
If the submission is missed by the cut off time it can be included in the following game.
Once the cut off time has been reached, 20 numbers are randomly drawn and displayed for all to see. Each round of keno takes approximately 5 minutes.
To win 20 out of 20 randomly chosen numbers from a pool of 80, requires some serious luck. The odds of selecting the correct 20 number is approximately 1 in 3,500,000,000,000,000,000.
It’s impossible to live long enough just to play this number of games!
Due to the high improbability of winning all numbers, a range of 15 to 20 is given for the jackpot! The difficulty is so high that even selecting 3 to 4 numbers correctly will often win a prize.
You would think that with the odds being so poor that there wouldn’t be a need to make the house edge even better for the casino. But it is! In comparison with other games at a land based casino Keno is probably the worst payout game there is. If possible, play bingo or any other game if you are even just out there to have fun and extend your playing money a little bit. The odds of getting something back from keno is just so low.
At some venues the classic paper keno card has been replaced with an electronic version. The same rules apply as if it were played on the classic keno paper card.
Instead of finding a keno card on paper, there is a terminal that players can go to, to enter their numbers. At the terminal, an electronic version of the keno card is displayed. Either with an electronic pen or with a touch pad, the numbers are selected. Payment is also performed via the terminal or a print out of the keno card can be produced and then a submission made with payment at the counter.
Playing online keno will be very much the same experience as playing land based or video but only much faster! Obviously online keno can offer so much more functionality than land based, such as auto pick, re-use, favourites and even simply keno for the individual (not pooled) so similar to slots. This makes online keno very exciting, but can also be very dangerous as you can burn through your bank roll very quickly. So please be aware.
So does online offer better odds for keno? To be honest the odds of winning are going to be very similar between land based and online. But the worst though is land-based closely followed by online. Yes, online statistically has better odds, but only marginally. So how to find the best online keno casino? This is extremely difficult. Keno in itself is simply a luck based game, and the odds of winning are so low but the winnings huge. With knowing this, go for the online casino which offers the largest winnings, but consideration must be given to choosing an online casino that you can trust and offers a good experience. My suggestion is to try a few online casinos play a few keno games and test out the experience and the payout processing. Once you are happy with a few online casinos, then you have a firm base to choose the one that offers the larger jackpot.
Classification of Keno Online
On the homepage of Gambledex, the classification of table casino games and other games are referenced. Keno is technically not a table game, as there isn’t a table or a dealer involved. Nevertheless for online casinos, keno can oddly be found under the table casino games section. Sometimes it’s found in the other games or specialty games section. It can be confusing, so if you are looking for keno online and you think it’s not offered, make sure you have searched through all the game sections of the online casino, as it’s possible you’re simply looking in the wrong area.
Frequently Asked Questions
Question: Is playing online keno a scam?
Answer: There will be some online casino’s out there that are a scam. Unfortunately the lesser known online casinos, although they may be perfectly honest and legitimate are hard to qualify until they build a strong customer base. So if starting out for online keno avoid the unknown brand names, and stick to the online casino’s that offer the respected gaming software providers such as RTG. The well known online casino sites are often audited by a third party and therefore safer to play at.
Question: Can I play if I’m from the US?
Answer: Yes! You can play at any of the recommended offshore online casinos above.
Question: How can I work out which numbers are more likely to be picked?
Answer: Theoretically each number has the same probability as the other. Some online casinos (and land based) display the past results and you could identify the numbers most often drawn. This should not be taken as an indicator that those numbers have a higher chance of being drawn than others because the odds of each number being drawn is theoretically the same.