Keno is a game similar to the lottery but set up for play at casinos and other gambling establishments. In some places around the world, keno is also offered at bars and restaurants.
In the way a person picks lottery numbers, a bettor picks keno numbers on a chart, which typically ranges from 1-80 but can be fewer. A set number of picks are made, and when the picks are complete, the numbers are chosen at random. When players hit a certain number of correct picks, there is a payout. The more numbers that match the machine’s picks, the higher the payout.
Keno is most often played to pass time at a casino, restaurant, or bar. However, keno machines and the games available at online casinos are a bit more focused and include animations and faster action to keep players entertained.
Most historians believe keno originated in China, possibly as far back as 3000 years ago during the Han Dynasty. As the Chinese people struggled under one particular ruler who imposed severe taxes, citizens invented keno to raise money for the residents and to aid with war costs. Keno may have also been used to raise money needed to finish building the Great Wall.
Documentation of keno-style games is more common in the 1800s with regard to Macau, which was then ruled by the Portuguese. The island hosted lottery-type games that could be played by people on the mainland as well, with sheets being delivered to and from villages.
When the Chinese traveled to North America in the late 1800s to find work building railroads, they brought the lottery tradition, which was translated from the Chinese name of boc hop bu or puck-apu to keno. And what was played with 120 Chinese characters, Americans replaced them with 80 numbers.
Keno spread from the west coast of the United States to states like Texas, and it caught on quickly in places like Nevada where gambling was legal by the 1930s. In other states where gambling was not as widely accepted, however, it was called Racehorse Keno to disguise it as a racing game.
Today, keno is played in most casinos in the US and beyond and offered in a majority of online casinos.
The first step to playing keno online is to choose a variation of the game. While keno games will all have the same premise, some have slightly different number sets or themes, not to mention payouts.
Once in the game, select the numbers to fill the card in agreement with the number of credits chosen to play. Select the amount to wager on each number while paying attention to the minimums and maximums in that particular game.
When the numbers are drawn, matching numbers will be highlighted, and any winnings will be credited to the player’s account. Remember that if “play five” or a similar choice has been made, those numbers will continue to play for the duration of that commitment.
Keno payouts will vary on the credits played, numbers chosen, and winning numbers per that game’s payout table. These will vary from game to game, from online casino to casino.
There are probabilities for a 20-number ticket, however.
- Hitting 0 out of 20 = 0.12%
- Hitting 1 out of 20 = 1.16%
- Hitting 2 out of 20 = 4.97%
- Hitting 3 out of 20 = 12.49%
- Hitting 4 out of 20 = 20.5%
- Hitting 5 out of 20 = 23.33%
- Hitting 6 out of 20 = 19.02%
- Hitting 7 out of 20 = 11.33%
- Hitting 8 out of 20 = 4.99%
- Hitting 9 out of 20 = 1.63%
- Hitting 10 out of 20 = 0.39%
- Hitting 11 out of 20 = 0.07%
- Hitting 12 out of 20 = 0.01%
- Hitting 13 out of 20 = 0.0008%
- Hitting 14 out of 20 = 0.00005%
- Hitting 15 out of 20 = 0.000002%
- Hitting 16 out of 20 = 0.00000007%
Suffice it to say, the odds are astronomical for hitting 17, 18, 19, or 20. (The odds of hitting 20 out of 20 are actually one in 3,535,316,142,212,173,800.)
The best way to start playing keno online is to find some free-play games to see how the betting works. Then look at several site options to see which ones have the best payout tables. For example, look at the payouts for hitting 7 out of 20 on several different sites to compare.
There is little in the way of solid strategy for keno, as the game is one of pure luck. There is no way to predict which numbers will be chosen by a random-number-generated machine.
One thing to keep in mind is that the odds for winning do not increase when picking more numbers. Playing a pick-six or pick-seven game can be just as fun and lucrative as playing a pick-20.
Playing multi-race cards can be more fun, but keep in mind how much money is being wagered on each game. There is also a significant house edge, so pay attention to the above odds when playing each time.
Also, avoid the gambler’s fallacy, which is the notion that a number will eventually hit if played enough times. In fact, the odds are the same for every number to hit in every game, and there is no better chance that a certain number will hit even if it hasn’t hit in the last 20 games. Some who analyze the game do suggest that there are “hot” or “cold” numbers, one that hit or miss consistently in a certain run of games, but that is something a player should track if interested.
There are several reports that state keno’s hottest numbers are: 3, 16, 44, 58, 61, 66, 67, 74, and 78. However, there is no statistical evidence found to support this assertion.