December 9, 2019

Rules of Keno

How to play keno – rules governing the game

There are really three sets of rules governing a game of keno:

  • The rules of the game of keno itself – that is, how it is played.
  • The House Rules set by the casino, covering such issues as maximum payouts, deadlines for placing a bet before the draw, and for claiming your winnings.
  • Rules set by any external governing bodies (such as national gambling laws), which cover issues such as age limits, and the type of premises where it can be played. The casino you’re playing in is obliged to ensure certain of these rules are adhered to. But some of them may be your responsibility – such as the obligation to report large wins to your taxation authorities.

Rules of the game of Keno

The game of Keno itself is very simple:

  • In each Keno game, 20 numbers are drawn from a pool of 80.
  • The object of the game is for the player to guess what some of those numbers will be.
  • You indicate your choices before the draw begins by completion of a ‘keno ticket’.
  • You place your bet by submitting and paying for the ticket.
  • After the draw you receive winnings according to how many numbers you guessed correctly.

Filling out your ticket

To fill out a basic (straight) keno ticket all you do is:

  • mark one or more numbers on the blank ticket, usually up to a maximum of 15
  • indicate how many consecutive games you wish to play with those numbers
  • write the amount you would like to bet on each game
  • present your ticket to the Keno desk and pay for your ticket

You can generally play as many tickets as you wish on any one draw.

In a few minutes, twenty numbered Keno balls will be drawn, and if enough of your selected numbers are drawn, you are a winner.

There are various more complicated ways you can complete a ticket, but they’re not necessary.

House rules for Keno

The basics of the game are the same regardless of where you play it, but the payouts and guidelines can vary from casino to casino. And individual casinos can offer their own special games with their own rules.

It is recommended that you stop by a Keno counter and pick up a free booklet outlining the house rules and payouts.

Keno Way Tickets

Keno “Way tickets” basically show several bets which are made by combining a given set of numbers in all possible ways.

They are really just a convenient method of playing several bets at the same time.

Way Tickets are more complex to complete then straight tickets. Here’s an example:

Say you pick 5 pairs of numbers. You circle each of these pairs. What you want to do is bet on every possible 6-spot that can be formed by combining your chosen pairs. There are 10 possible ways to form 6-spots out of your 5 pairs. You decide to place $1. That’s $10 in total.

So, you write on the ticket:

keno way ticket

Alternatively you might also want to play the 10-spot that would be formed by using all your 5 pairs. That ticket would be marked:
keno way ticket

Keno Straight Tickets

The ‘straight ticket’ is your basic keno ticket. It’s the most common and the simplest ticket to play.

You might also hear it called a ‘straight up’ or ‘regular game’ ticket.

On a straight ticket you only bet on one set of numbers.

You simply choose and mark your numbers. Experienced players tend to choose between 4 and 8 ‘spots’. Then decide how much you want to bet, and how many games you want to play with that set of numbers. (see our tips on [post2post id=”148″])

Then you pay for your ticket.

When the numbers are drawn you look at how many of yours came up and claim your winnings according to the house payout schedule.

If you’re a novice, it’s best to start with straight tickets just to get used to the game. When you’re ready you might like to try some of the more complicated variations.

Keno Split Tickets

A keno ‘split ticket’ is simply a way of making more than one straight ticket bet on the same ticket.

Each separate bet or ‘game’ is denoted by circling or drawing a line to separate off a group of numbers.

On a split ticket each game must have its own unique numbers. Any given number can only be included in one game (group of numbers). There can be no overlap.

The only advantage to a split ticket is the convenience of playing two or more games on the same piece of paper. It makes no difference to the payout. Each bet is viewed as entirely separate, and you pay for each of them.

Keno Catches

Explanation of keno catches.

In the game of keno a ‘catch’ is when one of your numbers is picked in the draw.

If you ‘catch 5’ it means that 5 of your numbers were picked.

Winning keno catches

The keno payout schedule shows what you would win for each number of catches. For instance here is a payout schedule for a 6-spot game (ie a game in which you have chosen 6 numbers). Note that win nothing for 1 or 2 catches:

Catch play $1 play $2  play $5 
3 $1 $2 $5
 4  $8  $16  $40
 5  $50  $100  $250
 6  $1500  $3000  $7500

Occasionally you will find special “Catch All” pay schedules. In these games you are betting that you will catch all the numbers that you selected. You will be paid only if all the numbers you chose show up.

You can also use the term in a more general way to denote winning; ‘catch a big jackpot’.