How to Play Keno
What is Keno?
Keno is kind of like the state lottery — you pick several numbers on a ticket, and hope to match the numbers drawn from the ping-pong ball machine. There's another way that it's like the state lottery: the odds are very bad. Keno in the casino has the highest edge of any game in the casino -- 25% or more.
The good about this game is that it's played very slowly, and for as little as $1 a pop. If you're almost out of cash at a casino, you can always hang out in the Keno lounge and play $1 Keno games (where you have the chance of winning up to $250,000, or smaller amounts).
If you're playing online the odds are often much better. Of course, the pace is much faster, so you could still wind up losing more money by playing online even though the odds are better, because you're placing so many more bets.
Never play Keno?
Many gambling authors will tell you to never play Keno because the edge is so high. In The New Gambler's Bible, Arthur Reber says, "I wouldn't play it with Monopoly money, and I hope you never will." Now, I think Reber's a great writer, and his Bible is a fantastic book, but I have to disagree with him on this. Really, is it so bad to blow a dollar on a Keno ticket for a chance to win a quarter million dolars? So you've lost a whole dollar — so what? We all know that gambling is usually a losing proposition, so what's the crime if you limit your Keno play to what you can afford to lose and you fully understand that the odds are bad? Sure the house edge is high, but playing a few cheap games is certainly not going to devastate you. You don't have to get a fantastic expected return on every dollar you spend — for example, what's the expected return when you pay to see a movie? You "lose" 100% of your money with no chance of getting it back. But you got some entertainment value out of it, so why is the entertainment value from buying a keno ticket any less valid?
We have a related discussion about this idea on our page where we challenge the idea of only playing the lottery when the jackpot is high.
More on Keno
Here are some other Keno resources:
- The Wizard of Odds. A professional actuary analyzes the holy living mortal snot out of the game.
- Las Vegas How-To.. Shows a picture of a ticket and explains exactly what all the various boxes mean. Nice.
See also how to play: