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Keno Rules

Look at the standard keno rules takes about three seconds. This uncomplicated game still offers a million miles of fun; so taking those three seconds is well worth your time.


The game of keno is played with cards bearing numbered squares; a number on the card may be marked when an announcer selects and calls that number from a randomly selected pellet. The standard version of keno is similar to lotto or bingo except that the numbered balls are rolled out of a container called the keno goose.

The most widely played form of keno is a variation called “race-horse”, or Nevada, keno. This version of keno is played in gambling casinos, in which any number of players, even one, play against the house. In racehorse keno the player is given a card with 80 squares numbered from 1 to 80 in rows of 10. The player may bet on any number or numbers but not more than 15, marking them on his card or ticket, which a clerk then records as the player pays out his wager for each number selected.

The keno numbers are also printed on 80 individual ping-pong balls, which are either blown around in a large clear plastic sphere, or spun around in a wire birdcage. As each ball is selected, the winning number is electronically highlighted on the keno boards throughout the casino.

The keno players can bet on numbers singly (a one-spot ticket), several at a time, or in various combinations. With a five-spot ticket, at least three of the numbers picked by the player must be called to win; then the house pays off at 3-1 odds; if four of five the player gets 26-1; and if all five get picked, 332-1. Actual odds, of course, are significantly higher, favoring the house by from 20 to 25 percent.

A ticket can be marked with individual numbers creating a straight keno ticket, group of numbers that give a better chance of winning. These are called way and combination tickets. A way ticket allows players to group different numbers (each group containing the same amount of numbers) to create more than one way to win. Players are given credit for hitting all three numbers if any one of the group hits. A combination way ticket is one in which groups of numbers are bet several different ways, allowing money to be sprinkled over more combinations. Many experienced keno players will use these methods for a wider selection of numbers with a lower minimum wager, and a better chance to win.

Minimum bets and payoffs are different from casino to casino, but this information can be found in the keno lounge or in the instruction booklet. Players present their ticket along with their wager to a keno writer, and are issued a computerized ticket with the game number, date, ticket code, choices and the amount of the bet. It is the player's responsibility to compare the computer-generated ticket to their original copy in the event of a discrepancy. Once the keno game is ready to start, betting will be cut off. When the 20 randomly drawn numbers are put up on the keno boards, players compare their ticket with the numbers displayed for the game played.

Multi-race keno allows multiple games to be played on one keno ticket. Most casinos allow anywhere from two to 20 games in a row, but some offer up to 1,000. The keno writer or runner must be told that a multi-race ticket is wanted. At the conclusion of the last game selected, players bring their multi-game ticket to the counter and claim their winnings from all the games played.

Also realize that if you are a winner at keno, you must cash in your winning ticket before the next game begins. If you are playing more than one game on a ticket, you don't have to collect until after the last game has been called but before the next game after that begins. The exception to this rule is if you are playing from 21 - 1000 games (this can vary from casino to casino). When you place bets for this many keno games, you have up to one year to collect. Before assuming this is true at the casino you are playing, be sure to ask a keno employee for assistance.


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