Keno is one of the oldest and most basic of all casino games. According to legend, keno games were first played in ancient China to help cities fund wars; while the true history of the game is probably not so romantic, the game is well over a hundred years old.
Today, keno is one of the most popular of all online casino games. It combines fast action, big jackpots and simple game play to make it the perfect choice for casual gamblers – or for anyone looking for a break from more demanding games.
Keno can be played at virtually any online casino. However, unlike most games, where you choose to play online keno for real money may have a drastic impact on the odds you receive while playing. This is because there are no standardized pay tables for keno; each casino sets their own unique payouts, some of which are significantly better than others.
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How to Play Online Keno
Online keno is very easy to play. Most online casinos will have a separate section for keno; alternately, it may be part of an “other games” section, as it doesn’t fit naturally into one of the larger gaming categories, like table games or slots.
Keno is essentially a lottery game played with 80 balls, numbered 1 through 80. On each drawing, 20 of the balls will be drawn, and it is the player’s goal to match as many of those numbers as possible. Typically, players can choose to play anywhere from 1 to 15 numbers, or “spots.”
Players can choose spots before each drawing. In a live keno game, drawings will typically take place every five to ten minutes; in video keno or real money keno, you can choose to have drawings as frequently as you like. Often, you can buy tickets (or online, choose numbers) that will be used for the next several drawings, saving you the time of choosing the same numbers before each individual drawing.
The amount of spots the player will need to hit in order to win a prize will depend on the individual casino, as well as the number of spots chosen. When players choose a larger number of spots, there may even be prizes for correctly picking zero balls (or other small numbers). The largest prize is always given for correctly matching all spots the player has picked.
As stated earlier, the prizes and payouts for keno games can vary wildly. However, here is a sample payout chart for a game played with 10 spots. The prizes are stated on a “for one” basis; the original wager you make to purchase a ticket is considered lost. On a $1 bet, a keno game played with 10 spots may pay out the following:
- 5 Spots Matched: $2
- 6 Spots: $25
- 7 Spots: $150
- 8 Spots: $1,200
- 9 Spots: $10,000
- 10 Spots: $100,000
Online Keno Strategy
When you play online keno for real money, you should understand that keno is almost entirely a game of luck. No system exists that can predict which balls or combinations will be hit on upcoming draws; just pick your favorite numbers and hope for the best.
The pay table we used for our earlier example has an expected return to the player of 86.64%, which is fairly mediocre for an online keno game. Using that pay table, the player would only win a prize about once every 15 games; the odds of winning the grand prize are about 1 in 8.9 million.
If you want to play keno for real money, your best bet is to play at an online casino with a good pay table, such as the one of the real money online casinos we mentioned earlier. Online casinos tend to offer much better returns to players on keno than live casinos can afford to. In a typical live keno game, the casino will typical return 65% to 80% to the player – better than most state or national lotteries, but very poor compared to almost any other casino game. Video keno machines in live casinos do quite a bit better, usually offering returns in the 85%-95% range; if you enjoy keno and want to play on a casino trip, video poker is almost always a better bet.
However, these numbers pale in comparison to the odds you’ll receive playing online. Any real money online keno game offering player returns of under 90% is considered poor; many online casinos offer real money keno that returns well over 90%, and sometimes as high as 95% or better.
It’s also well worth your time to look at the pay tables at your favourite online casino before playing keno, if possible. The house edge usually varies depending on the number of spots you wish to play; since these differences can often be significant, it’s worth knowing what number of spots will give you the best odds.
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