Beginner's Guide to Keno

Keno originated in China and was exported to the United States in the 1800s. Keno shares similarities with bingo and lotteries, and the goal is to have one’s numbers come up during a drawing. Keno uses 80 balls numbered 1 to 80, and the player chooses up to 20 unique numbers. Wins are determined by matches, and winnings are determined by cross-referencing spots to matches on a payout table.

Live, Video and Live

Live keno is similar to a lottery. Players buy keno tickets, usually for $1, and win or lose based on how their numbers match up against a community drawing. Keno machines are private games. Originally, these machines were mechanical, much like original slot machines. Eventually, all machines switched to motherboards and touchscreens. The game itself remains unchanged. Online, the main difference is the input, a mouse or keyboard. On a tablet or phone, however, the experience can be quite authentic.

Basic Keno Rules

Each number selection is called a spot. If a player chooses five numbers, they purchase a 5-spot ticket. In theory, a player can choose up to 20 unique numbers; however, most houses sell 1- to 10-spot tickets. The default ticket price is usually $1, but most houses will accept stakes in multiples of that amount. A win is determined by cross-referencing the number of matches with the number of spots on the payout table. This table varies from house to house, but a 4-spot ticket will usually pay out x1 on two matches.

Other Keno Games

Online, especially, there are numerous keno variants and keno-like games available. Mega Ball is a popular example. The rules vary from game to game, but the core concepts are always the same.

How to Play

Purchase a keno ticket or press/click the play button. Then fill out your keno card. Keep in mind that the number of spots chosen dictates the odds and the max payout. If you want the best chance to win, choose a 4-spot. If you want a shot at the big payday, choose the 10-spot or the biggest available. Note that there are options beyond the straight ticket, which we will describe in the subsequent sections.

Straight Ticket

The straight ticket is the simplest bet and what we’ve been describing above. Straight tickets, however, can have multiple bets: For instance, you could circle two groups of three numbers and mark the ticket 2/3 and 1/6. This ticket would then be for three bets: one 6-spot and two unique 3-spots.

King Ticket

A king ticket is a straight ticket with one number marked as king. The king then applies to every bet on the ticket. In the above example, the ticket would be 2/4 and 1/7 with a king.

Combination Ticket

A combination ticket uses multiple groups to form combo plays: For example, a ticket with groups of two, three and four numbers could be played as 1/2, 1/3, 1/4, 1/5, 1/6, 1/7 and 1/9.


Some keno games have a multiplier feature that multiplies all winnings. To take advantage of it, you must mark the multiplier box on the card, which will double the cost of the card. At the beginning of the draw, the game will select the multiplier first. Generally, the available multipliers are 1x, 2x, 3x, 5x and 10x. The risk here is the x1, which means that you’ve doubled the bet for nothing. With the 2x multiplier, you break even, and you could have secured that multiplier simply by playing the ticket twice.

Easy Pick

An easy pick or quick pick is a straight ticket randomly generated by the computer.

Progressive Jackpot

Some keno machines have a progressive jackpot. A percentage of each wager goes into the pot, and then a portion of the pot is paid to the various types of wins. The biggest portion goes to the max-number straight bet, such as a 10-spot. In keno, most progressives have caps, but even so, at high jackpot levels, the house can be offering an RTP rate greater than 100 percent.

Keno Strategy

Keno is purely a game of chance. There is no strategy to increase your odds. The most important step is to determine what you want out of the experience. If you want to play it like bingo and win frequently, then focus on 4-spot and other small bets. If you want to play it like a lottery and shoot for the big win, then choose the bet with the largest odds.

Bankroll Management

One way that you can affect your long-term odds is by maximizing your bankroll. Online, you can do this by taking advantage of welcome bonuses, reload bonuses and loyalty programs.




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Author Kingsino Staff
Date August 23 2012
Tags Keno, Beginner's Guide