A Guide to Playing Keno Online
Keno is a staple game that you’ll often see featured in a brick-and-mortar or online casino. Generally, it’s very easy to learn and play this incredibly popular casino game. The minimum bets for Keno are usually low, and if you hit the right numbers, you can strike it rich with a large win. However, that's offset by the fact that the house edge for Keno is higher than other casino games. But if you want something fast and easy that offers the possibility to win big, Keno could be your game.
Keno is a mainstay in casinos worldwide. In fact, many casinos have special Keno rooms where ardent players can sit for hours playing the game. Unsurprisingly, with the rise of online casinos, Keno has become as equally popular among online gamblers as live players. In this comprehensive guide, we will cover the origins of the Keno, its basic rules, as well as strategies, tips, and tricks to help you walk away as a winner. You will also learn the differences between Keno gameplay both online and offline.
The Unusual History of Keno
The game of Keno was invented about 3,000 years ago but exactly how it came about remains unclear. According to folklore, a man in China came up with the game during a time of war. His village could no longer pay any more money to support the local army to defend itself so he invented the lottery game to raise funds. This clever man took the first 120 characters from the “Thousand Character Classic,” a famous children’s poem, and wrote them on a board. Players could wager on up to 10 characters when the markers were tossed onto the board. This lottery game became so popular that it not only saved the village but also turned Keno into a game that is still played by others thousands of years later.
It's widely believed that the Great Wall of China was funded by the proceeds of this Keno-like game during its construction. The popularity of the game came to a halt for a while and didn’t become widespread until Chinese immigrants brought Keno to the West in the 1800s. The Chinese immigrants who came to the United States to work on building the Transcontinental Railroad brought the game to Houston, Texas; it was in Houston that the game took on the name “Keno” and began to spread across the West.
As time went on, the game morphed into several different variations but is generally played the same way as it was thousands of years ago. The number of Keno characters went from 120 to 90, and to ultimately 80 when it made its migration into the West. At this point, the Chinese characters were changed to numbers.
How to Play Keno – The Basics
To those who are completely unfamiliar with Keno and curious to learn which casino game it’s most similar to, the answer is bingo as opposed to traditional table games like blackjack or craps. Interestingly enough, in some versions of the game, Keno uses nearly the same equipment as bingo.
There are several different styles and versions of Keno and each features slight differences from the standard game. However, the standard version of Keno is what you’ll find in most online and in-person casinos.
Before you can begin playing Keno, you'll need to buy a Keno card. The card will have the numbers 1 through 80 in a grid pattern, like a bingo card.
Before the game officially begins, you select and mark off 20 numbers. Typically, Keno is played with 20 numbers. Once you mark your 20 numbers, the game begins, and 20 numbers are drawn for the game.
The 20 numbers are usually pulled from the same ball machine used in a lottery or bingo. However, when playing online keno, the numbers are chosen with a random number generator.
In a game of Keno, the size of the jackpot varied on the specific game and depends on several factors. For online keno, there will be a paytable specifying how much you'll win based on how many numbers you get on your Keno card. Paytables can vary quite a bit from one casino to the next.
In general, payouts start happening when players get 5 numbers on their cards. However, most casinos payout on marking off no numbers at all, since the odds of that happening are surprisingly high.
Oftentimes, keno paytables are structured as a multiplier of the price of the keno card, or the original wager. The more numbers you get, the bigger the payout. For example, if the cost of your Keno card is $1 and the payout for hitting 5 numbers is 3x, this means you win $3. The amount of your payout will increase the more numbers you hit. Marking off 7 numbers could win you a 20x payout for a $20 prize.
The chance of getting all 20 numbers in an 80-number Keno game is an astronomical1 in 3 quintillions. While that probability shifts in your favor significantly based on how many numbers you can choose, the odds of getting a certain amount of numbers during a 20 number Keno game are:
1 in 843.380
1 in 86.446
1 in 20.115
1 in 8.009
1 in 4.877
1 in 4.287
1 in 5.258
1 in 8.826
1 in 20.055
1 in 61.420
1 in 253.801
1 in 1,423.822
It's pretty obvious that the odds of marking off more than 7 numbers jump is quite high. Because of these odds, marking off 8 or more numbers on a Keno card will give you a huge payout.
Are There Good Strategies for Playing Keno?
The truth is, similar to any lottery-type game, winning at Keno is a matter of pure luck. The numbers come up completely randomly and there’s no sure-fire way to ensure you pick all the right numbers. However, there are strategies that you can deploy to help you win more often or consistently.
Choose the Right Number of Spots to Mark Off
Most casinos will offer you a choice of Keno games to play. The different games match the number of spots on the card you can mark off. The best odds of winning anything are with games where you can mark off 4, 5, or 6 spots. If you’d like to raise the stakes, you can mark off 7 or 8 spots and have a fairly good chance of becoming a winner.
In general, playing less than 4 spots or more than 8 spots is not recommended. The potential win is either too small or the odds of winning a giant jackpot are too far-fetched. While you won’t become a millionaire playing 4 to 8 spot Keno, you’ll have decent odds of consistently winning modest jackpots.
Playing Multiple Games in a Row
Most Keno cards allow you to pay upfront for more than one game, using the same card. While it's fun to pick new numbers for every game, playing the same numbers over and over could help you win more often. While the numbers are drawn at random, the odds of the same numbers being drawn in sequential games are surprisingly high. As new random numbers get generated with new games, it is likely that your numbers will eventually come up.
Consecutive and Cold Numbers
Although this strategy isn’t backed by any long-term evidence, quite a few players believe this strategy can work. This strategy involves playing a consecutive set of numbers that will give you an edge when playing Keno.
Another strategy involves playing “cold” numbers or numbers that haven’t come up after you've been playing for a few rounds. Either one of these strategies can work occasionally, but there is no evidence that either will give you a mathematical advantage. The bottom line is, Keno is purely a game of chance.
Contrary to popular belief, the best winning keno strategy involves where you play. As previously stated, Keno paytables and multipliers can vary dramatically between casinos and even different Keno games featured in the same casino. In the instance of a 20-number game, the odds never change. That being said, play the Keno games with the highest multipliers for the lowest numbers. To illustrate, a Keno site that has a payout of 4x or 5x on 5 numbers is better than a website that pays 2x or 3x on five numbers.
Other factors to consider when choosing an online casino are bonuses, side prizes, promotions, and progressive jackpots. Online casinos go to great lengths to attract players these days and offer great incentives to gamble at their casinos. Certain online casinos may offer perks like free Keno cards or cashback when you sign up, so be on the lookout for the best offers.
Every offer is unique, and you should shop around to see which online casinos have the best deals for you. Keep an open mind, and be ready to sign up at more than one online casino for even more great deals.
Tips and Tricks for Playing Keno
When playing Keno, there are some easy things you can do to give yourself the better odds to win. However, playing is not just about winning. You also want to have an overall fun experience.
Let's go over a few tips and tricks for playing, winning, and enjoying Keno.
- Play at a respectable casino – Playing at a licensed, honest online casino is the most important thing when playing Keno, or any other casino game. Do your due diligence by reading reviews before playing online. Also, make sure the casino is licensed within a reputable jurisdiction. Finally, ensure that the random number generator is regularly verified and checked by a third party as fair.
- Read the paytable – This is something that can give you an edge. Keno is a game where the odds are already favoring the house. Go for the Keno games which will award you better prizes when you do win. You want to look for better-paying games to play. This maximizes your winnings when Lady Luck smiles at you.
- Keep playing – Just because Keno is a game of chance, but you can improve your chance of winning by playing often. If you play keno regularly, the best move is to stick with the same numbers and the same strategy for a while. According to the law of averages, the longer you stick with the same numbers, the more likely you are to eventually win. Keep playing your favorite numbers all the time and one day you will hopefully strike it rich and hit a jackpot!
- Have fun and relax – Playing Keno should be fun. Don't let the drive to win stress you out. Winning all the time is simply not possible in this game of chance. Among the reasons why keno is so popular is due to its incredible simplicity and that no players are advantaged over any others. However, on the rare occasions when luck is on your side, a very small bet can turn it into a hefty jackpot. Keno is a great, casual game to play while relaxing with friends over a bottle of wine, or while watching a movie from your couch. Don't bet too much, and accept keno as a game of chance, to fully enjoy the experience.
Does playing Keno online change anything?
For the most part, playing Keno online-only differs slightly. This can depend on where you are playing and what bonuses are offered. However, Keno is basically the same game anywhere you play it. That being said, there are quite a few advantages to playing Keno online.
Anywhere, Any Time
The biggest benefit of playing Keno online is that you can pretty much play anywhere, and at any time. Prior to the inception of online casinos, it was necessary to make a special trip to a casino, bingo hall, or some other place that offered Keno. But now, you can play Keno online anywhere, from your home or on the go through your mobile device. Many casino websites are compatible with mobile devices, and some even have their own apps. Many players simply don't fully appreciate the modern conveniences of go-anywhere mobile devices.
As you may have realized, the growing number of online casinos means there is intense competition for new users. This has prompted online casinos to offer many more perks and incentives to players than most brick-and-mortar casinos. Online casinos routinely offer generous bonuses and other promotions. These can include rewarding players for making deposits, or for simply being a loyal customer. Bonuses can also be awarded for playing a specific Keno game at a specific time, or for playing the same game regularly. Receiving incentives for indulging in a game you already love is a big benefit that online casinos offer.
Live Dealer Keno
If you like the anytime, anywhere versatility of online Keno, but like the human interaction that playing live offers, the solution is Live dealer keno. Live dealer games, including keno, are run from a studio with a live video stream and a live dealer. It's the next best thing to playing in person. Many live dealer studios also have live chat, so you can interact with other players. This can make the game much more fun, adding a social element lacking in the digital age.
Some Final Thoughts
Keno is a fun game with a rich history and is well-loved by players worldwide. It's an easy game to learn and play and even new players have the same chance to win as Keno veterans who have been playing for years.
On the other hand, keep in mind that the house advantage in Keno is one of the largest for any casino game. If you are the type of player who likes to master a game of skill, Keno is probably not the game for you. You'll never be able to master this game since it is purely a game of chance.
But Keno is a very fun, low cost and relaxing game that can be social, especially when played live. Moreover, if you're lucky, you could walk away with an enormous jackpot for a tiny stake. While there is not any one best strategy to play Keno, you can maximize the fun and profit of your experience. One way is to play Keno whenever you log onto an online casino. If you keep playing every chance you get, you'll have a better chance at winning. Another way is to try playing at a live dealer casino, for social interaction. Also, look around for the best bonuses. But most important of all, don't forget to have fun. Good luck!