December 9, 2019

Keno General Rules

The Basics of Playing Keno

Playing Keno is extremely simple. It is so simple that it should only take you a little time to understand its rules and how it is played.

First of all you will need a Keno card or ticket. On the card you will notice all the numbers from 1 to 80. All the numbers from 1 to 40 are on the top half of the card, and the numbers 41 to 80 are on the bottom half of the card.

Before the game begins you must pick out the numbers you think will win and mark them on the card. You can pick any amount of numbers you want to, but no more than 20 and at least one number.

When the game starts, 20 random numbers will be chosen. When this process is complete the game is over and you will be paid according to how many numbers you got. If you have played ten numbers for example, but you only got 8, you will be paid accordingly. Of course, the payout would have been larger if you got all ten numbers that you played.

Regarding the payouts you should know that they vary from one casino to another. Usually the payouts are large, but this is mainly because the house edge is rather high. In fact Keno is one of the casino games with the highest house edge. If you play only 2 numbers for example your odds of winning are 6%.

This is a game that appeals to lottery fans. It is very entertaining, and even though the house edge is a bit high, the large payouts compensate for that, making this a wonderful game to play.

Main Things About Keno

The goal of the game in Keno is to between 1 and 20 numbers on a card from 80 possible numbers that will match up to 20 different numbers drawn by the house when every player has chosen their numbers. The more cards that match and the higher the initial wager, the better the result for people.

Bad Reputation

One of the main reasons perhaps that Keno does not have the same following and name recognition as blackjack, roulette or craps is the fact that government gambling regulation in terms of house limits and house edges does not extend to keno and this has allowed many casinos to up the pay scales and create different pay tables that are extremely advantageous to them. In fact, there are some keno games where the house edge can be as high as 66%, which when compared to the average house edge of around 2.5% on other non-slot casino games is something that is extremely obscene.

However, at the same time, what you will find is that most offline casinos will offer many different pay tables and allow you as a customer to choose the one that you want to play on. This means that you can effectively choose the house edge for the game that you play and therefore if you are knowledgeable enough about the mathematics of the game you can keep the house edge as low as possible. For example, there are some offline casinos that have keno games with house edges as low as 4% and therefore some of the bad reputation of the keno game is unfairly received.

Online Reputation

The interesting thing about Keno as it relates to online casinos is that the reputation issue is taken to the next level of extreme. Whereas some offline gambling institutions will take advantage of people in order to try and offer ridiculous bets like the 66% house edge bet mentioned above, there are also casinos that try to balance that out and get the reputation of the game back to neutral by offering extremely reasonable house edge percentages like 4%.

This is pronounced to a degree that is almost ridiculous in the online casino world. In casinos that have software packages that they created themselves, they have a lot of flexibility over their Keno games and many of them will actually go ahead and try to offer bets that are classical “sucker bets” in which the player has absolutely no chance of winning anything at any time.

However, there are also other online casinos such as Microgaming casinos that will offer very fun and reasonable Keno games in order to balance this out and when that is considered in the big picture you can see how shopping around and finding an online casino with a very good mathematical house edge is crucial if you happen to be a person that plans on playing a lot of Keno.

Keno Terms

A Glossary of Keno Terms

Today, you can play keno both offline as well as online. If you are new to Keno, you would do well to know the different terms used in the game. What is an ‘all or nothing’? Or a ‘ball game’? What does someone mean when he uses the term ‘buy-in tournament’? This article provides a glossary of these and some other terms used in Keno.

Some Important Keno Terms to Know

Keno: This is today’s version of an ancient Chinese lottery. You get to draw 20 numbers out of a total of 80 (nowadays the total is 120), and you win if you are able to correctly guess the numbers drawn.

All or Nothing: This is a term used in Keno to represent a ticket that pays only if you draw all the numbers picked, or if you draw none of the numbers picked.

Ball Game: This is the most common form of Keno nowadays. In this form of the game, plastic balls represent the numbers.

Blank: This is a term used to represent an unused Keno ticket.

Blower: The blower is part of the machine that is used to dispense the plastic balls used in Keno. With the blower, the game operator can force the balls into a tube, using air.

Buy-in Tournament: This is a type of Keno tournament where you have to pay a pre-determined fee upfront. Once you pay the fee, you are eligible to play in a specific number of games or play a set number of tickets. In a buy-in tournament, you get to keep any money you win.

Cage: The cage is no longer used in Keno games today. Basically, it was a wire cage used in the earlier days to hold Keno balls. Today, you mostly find plastic hoppers. The term ‘cage’ also denotes a specific area in a casino where only employees are allowed, and where you can find Keno workers.

Catch: This is a term used to denote a number that you have called in a Keno game.

Catch-all: This is a type of Keno game where you have to get all the numbers marked on your ticket. Another game is Catch-zero, where you must ensure you do not get any of the numbers that you have marked on your ticket.

Close: This is a term used to identify that period in time when the casino stops writing any more Keno tickets. The time period usually stretches from just prior to the draw till immediately after the draw.

Fractional Rate Ticket: This term is used to represent a ticket that you can play for a fraction of the standard rate.

High End Ticket: This term is used to refer to a Keno ticket that pays you more if you catch a high number of spots. However, if you catch a lower number of spots compared to the standard ticket, you win less or even no money.

High Roller Ticket: This is a Keno ticket whose minimum pricing is high.

House Edge: This term is used to represent the percentage of bets that the house, i.e. the casino, can hope to win over time. The standard house edge is 30%, though this number is not necessarily the same for all casinos.

Keno Glossary –  Summing Up

The above are some of the terms that you will encounter when you start playing Keno. This is not an exhaustive list by any means, and you would do well to read up more about the large number of terms related to Keno before going ahead and trying your luck at the game.

Keno Payout Schedules

The prize tables in keno can look a bit complicated. Here’s our quick tips on what to look out for in keno pay schedules.

Each casino has its own system of payouts, which you will find set out in the Keno brochures or payout schedules around the casino or, if you’re playing Video keno you’ll find a payout table on each machine. An example is shown below.

The term ‘spot’ refers to how many numbers you have marked on your ticket. The term ‘catch’ refers to how many of your chosen numbers match what the house draws.

The table shows what you will win for a 1 coin stake. You need to multiply these amounts by the amount you are wagering. So in the example below, if you make a $2 bet, pick 4 spots and catch 3 of them you will win $12 (that is, $2 x 6).

This schedule does not pay out if you don’t match any numbers. But in some cases if you mark a lot of numbers the casino pays off if you catch 0.

Note that in Keno you do not get your stake back if you win.

Example keno pay table

example keno payout schedule

This is the payout schedule for online casinos running on Microgaming software. If you like the look of it, here’s where to find Microgaming casinos.

In a live casino keno game, where lots of players are gambling on the same draw, the most the house can pay out for any one draw is generally $50,000. If there are too many winners they will each get a proportionate share of this sum.

How Online Keno Games Vary

The differences between the online keno games fall under two types: firstly differences in the game rules, which depend upon the type of game software the site uses, and secondly differences between the policies and management of the casinos at which they are played.

In terms of the keno game itself…

The overall average payout rate. The better games pay out over 90% of your wagers over time. But some are pay back the same as a land-based video keno game – around 75%.

The payout schedules. All games display a payout schedule showing what you win for each of the numbers you match. Some offer a choice of schedules. Some payout for zero catches. And a small number offer schedules like the special tickets you’d find in a land-based casino eg ‘top & bottom’ wagers.

The jackpot. We’ve specifically compared the top payouts you might win for a $1 stake. The majority of sites have a jackpot of $10k-$15k. But you’ll find some casinos with much higher. A few casinos have a Progressive Jackpot.

The level of bets allowed. Typically $1-$10 per play. The lowest minimum we’ve seen is 25c, and the highest maximum $100. The number of spots allowed – usually either 10 or 15. One or two games allow only 8.

In terms of the casino as a whole…

There are all sorts of factors which can differentiate online casinos. Some of the key ones are:

  • The reputation of the casino for honesty, good service and efficient payouts.
  • Whether they are properly licensed and regulated.
  • The type of customer support they provide – avoid any where you can’t get hold of someone to answer your queries 24 hours a day.
  • The bonuses and other promotions available. There are many different schemes. In most cases you get your bonuses once you start making cash deposits over a certain level, but some offer bonuses simply for registering and downloading the software. Watch out for clauses in the small print if you are attracted by sign-up bonuses.
  • The quality and reliability of their gaming software and website.
  • The range of games they offer in addition to the keno. Some casinos have over 100 different games, and many have poker rooms, arcade games and even bingo alongside the more traditional casino offerings.
  • The currency used for playing. Increasingly casinos are offering the option of playing in Euros or sterling as well as US$. Some offer other currencies.
  • Whether they have language options other than English.

Putting all these factors together, we’ve chosen what we believe to be the very best casinos for keno. Find out who made it into The Keno Guide Top 10.