Introduction to Keno

by James Carter on February 19th, 2015.

Playing online keno at Bovada.If you enjoy risking long odds for a potential life-changing payday, then keno is the perfect game. It's simple to learn, available at most online casinos, and can be played for as little as a dollar.

Even if you're not a casino regular, there's a strong chance that you've already played keno in one form or another. That's because state and national lotteries across the globe use a version of the game to routinely pay out millions of dollars in winnings to fortunate participants.

How to Play Keno

Whether you're playing keno online or at a land-based casino, the rules are almost always the same. For the purposes of this article, however, let's look at how keno works at the Bovada gaming website.

Once the player has chosen keno from all of Bovada's available games, they'll be presented with a virtual card numbered 1 to 80. The goal is to predict which of these numbers will be drawn by the casino, and the player can select anywhere from 1 to 15 numbers. The player has the option of choosing numbers individually or allowing the computer to select them at random.

You'll also need to choose the size of your wager. In this case, the player can risk $1, $5, or $10. The bet amount stays the same regardless of how many numbers are selected, although larger wagers do offer more significant paydays. At any point during the game, the player can check the different payouts by consulting the paytable displayed on the left side of the screen.

Once the numbers and wager size have been selected, the player clicks on the "play" icon to initiate the draw phase of the game. 20 of the available 80 numbers are drawn at random and highlighted on the player's keno card. The more matches the player has, the greater their payout.

When the draw phase is complete, the player's winnings are displayed on the screen and surplus credits are deposited into their casino account. The keno session is now complete, and participants can choose to play again or try their luck at one of the hundreds of other games offered by Bovada.

Learning Keno Lingo

One advantage of playing keno is the lack of complicated lingo. You can jump right into the action without feeling like a novice, and conversations with fellow keno enthusiasts should flow smoothly without getting bogged down by complex insider terminology.

There's only one phrase gamers need to know to comfortably play keno. When you "catch a number," it means that one of the numbers selected on your virtual ticket has been drawn by the house. In order to walk away with a big payday, you'll need to "catch" as many selections as possible during a keno drawing.

If you want to sound like a real pro, you might also use the word "spot." Veteran players often substitute this word for "number." Therefore, a player who claims to have caught two spots means they got two matching numbers during the draw phase of the game.

Keno Tips and Strategy

Since keno is a game of pure luck, there's little use in trying to apply strategy. Winning numbers are selected entirely at random, and each keno draw is entirely independent of the next.

The best option for serious players is to learn the various elements of the game, from betting limitations to overall odds. This won't increase your chances of catching numbers, but it will allow you to follow all aspects of the game with a maximum understanding of what's going on.

Betting Limitations for Keno

It's always a good idea to know how many spots can be marked on a ticket. This differs from one casino to the next, although a limit of 15 spots is common. In some cases, a maximum of 10 spots is imposed.

There are, however, casinos that allow players to choose as many as 20 numbers. This usually occurs at land-based establishments, and the minimum bet may be raised for such a privilege.

Keno Payout

Whether you're playing online or at a brick-and-mortar casino, the payout table for keno should be easy to find. At virtual establishments, it can usually be located on the side of the screen. While this information isn't going to increase your odds of winning, it will allow you to be as educated as possible about what's taking place during the game.

Keno Odds

The odds of winning at keno do not favor the player, but that's to be expected from any casino game. With keno, however, the house edge is one of the worst around. On average, the casino has a 25% to 29% advantage over the player, compared to 0.46% on video poker or 2% to 15% on slots.

For a more in-depth look at the advantage held by the house, let's look at basic keno odds.

The odds of catching 0 numbers are - 1 in 843.380
1 number - 1 in 86.446
2 numbers - 1 in 20.115
3 numbers - 1 in 8.009
4 numbers - 1 in 4.877
5 numbers - 1 in 4.287
6 numbers - 1 in 5.258
7 numbers - 1 in 8.826
8 numbers - 1 in 20.055
9 numbers - 1 in 61.420
10 numbers - 1 in 253.801
11 numbers - 1 in 1,423.822
12 numbers - 1 in 10,968.701
13 numbers - 1 in 118,084.920
14 numbers - 1 in 1,821,881.628
15 numbers - 1 in 41,751,453.986
16 numbers - 1 in 1,496,372,110.872
17 numbers - 1 in 90,624,035,964.712
18 numbers - 1 in 10,512,388,171,906.553
19 numbers - 1 in 2,946,096,785,176,811.500
20 numbers - 1 in 3,535,316,142,212,173,800.000

In case you're wondering about that last number, it's 1 in 3.5 quintillion. That means the odds of catching all 20 keno numbers are so astronomical that everyone on the planet could play for each second of their lives and there would only be a single winner. By the way, the sheer number of tickets generated by this theoretical feat would stretch across the Milky Way galaxy. Of course, imagine the staggering payday if you did manage to defy the odds and catch 19 or 20 numbers.

It should be noted, however, that the odds of catching 20 numbers don't come into play at most casinos, as patrons are often limited to choosing 10 or 15 numbers. This keeps potential payouts at a manageable level and prevents the house from being busted by an uncommonly lucky player.

While these odds are daunting, keep in mind that they reflect a game where 20 spots are available. In a version where the player may only choose 10 numbers, the odds of catching 7 out of 10 are 621 to 1. Sure, these statistics are less than ideal, but they do offer a decent average payout of $140 against a $1 wager.

Give Keno a Try

Keno isn't for everyone, and that's especially true for advantage players who insist on doing everything possible to gain an edge over the casino. For millions of people around the world, however, the idea of risking a single dollar for a chance at becoming an instant millionaire is irresistible.

Will you love keno or hate it? The only way to know for sure is to give it a try. Luckily, all major Internet casinos offer the game, so the chance to play online keno is only a few clicks away.