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Keno Rules and Strategies

Keno is one of those games that can be played (and enjoyed) by amateurs and professionals alike. Those just looking for some fast-paced excitement like Keno for its nonstop fun and crazy potential winnings should you guess correctly. Those enjoying the game on a more serious level employ a variety of strategies to increase their chances, and while this game is considering a game of chance, there are certain things you can do to make winning more certain.

The game involves players choosing numbers 1 through 80, usually up to 20 numbers in total, after which 20 numbers are drawn at random using a ball machine or a random number generator. While typical house edge for non-slot  casino games is somewhere under 5%, the house edge for keno can go from 4% to over 35%.

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Keno History

keno gameKeno goes centuries back, thought to have come to America with the Chinese immigrants in 19th century, later spreading to other countries and becoming a common casino entertainment. One of the most popular theories is that the game was conceived by a Chinese general to raise money that would help feed and supply the army during war times. That game was based on a Chinese learning aid for kids known as Thousand Character Classic. The first 120 characters from the book were used, subdivided into categories and drawn on a board, looking much like modern day keno betting slips. The players would pick a set of characters (up to 10) and the emperor would draw random combinations to determine the winners.

When the game made its way to America during Gold Rush, it was adapted for horse racing, with Chinese characters changed to numbers and their count reduced to 20, each number assigned to a horse to be chosen. The first legal Keno game with no horses involved, the way we know it today, was played in 1936 in Nevada, with numbered balls drawn from a rotating cage.

Here is an interesting fact - in the 1960s the cumulative payout per keno game was limited to $25,000, later increased to $50,000 (at the end of 1970s). These days every casino can set their own limits - $100,000 per game or even more.

How to Play Keno

Essentially Keno is a fast-paced lottery draw-style game that gives players a chance to win generous cash prizes every few minutes. While some say that it's most exciting to play keno in person, this game is widely available online, with the live dealer calling out the numbers. At many online casinos you can also find ordinary keno games, with numbers generated by the computer.

Online Keno is played using a digitalized Keno card. You need to select your game, choose numbers from the grid with the mouse, decide how much to bet  and hit the button. Once you hit the button there is no going back, so all you can do is hold your breath and pray for the best.

If you chance to win, your winnings will be credited to your account. If you won a handsome amount, you can always go ahead and withdraw, although keno is a type of game that usually keeps you hooked for a while. There is just something about testing you luck again and again, trying to guess your lucky number and watching those balls spin around.

Keno Probability

With 20 balls out of 80 drawn, picking one number gives you a 25% probability. When picking two numbers, the probability of one being hit is 38%, while the probability of both being hit comes down to 6%. In case you pick three numbers out of the 20, your winning probability for one, two, three, four, five and six hits is 36.3% 30.8%, 12.9%, 2.9%, 0.3% and 0.01% respectively. The probability of choosing and hitting 15 out of 15 selected numbers is 0.0000000002%, although interestingly enough, it's pretty decent still for 2, 3, 4 and 5 hits - 14.8%, 24%, 25% and 17.6% respectively.

With this kind of probability there is little hope of hitting the jackpot and winning thousands by betting a few dollars. However, as most games of chance, the excitement of the game lies in the crazy possibility of you guessing a few (or maybe even all) numbers and making a fortune. Obviously the winning probability will change significantly based on the number of spots picked.

Keno Strategy and Tips

Generally you will be able to place your bets on one to twenty numbers choosing from a total of 80 numbers on the grid. Fundamentally, your gut feeling is what you should be guided by, as there is no telling which numbers will be drawn. Statistically speaking, choosing one to six numbers makes more sense than choosing fifteen, with four, five and six being the most common numbers of spots played. Once the numbers have been selected, your bets must be placed on each and every number selected.

When it comes to land-based casinos, a common strategy to consider is picking hot or cold numbers (hot being the ones that get hit the most and cold being the rarest ones). You can either stick to the hot numbers, or pick from the cold ones - as some people say, if they haven't shown up in a while, the chances are, they might real soon.

Another common game strategy is sticking to the same group of numbers and spots. For instance, make up your mind about the number of spots to play. Contrary to what some people might think, playing more numbers does not increase your chances - it's the other way around. Ideally, these should also be consecutive numbers known to be hit more often than others. Unless of course you are relaying on the "cold numbers" strategy.

Another integral part of keno winning strategy is keeping your eyes on the dominant patterns displayed in the game.

Of course, these strategies are only applicable for real-life keno in land-based casinos or live Keno played online. Video keno does not offer this kind of advantage, because the combinations are generated in a truly random fashion.

An interesting recommendation of experienced keno players is to stick to your numbers, once picked, no matter what. Even if you chose a bunch of numbers meaningful just to you - stay true to them every time you bet. Other players dig real deep and explore the mystery of math series - powerful sequences of numbers with deep meaning throughout history, such as Fibonacci series, square numbers and prime numbers. Surely enough, you can devise your own strategy, mixing and matching to achieve a perfect recipe.

If you intend to play keno online but  are not too familiar with the game just yet, it might be a good idea to try playing for free before you make a deposit and play for real money. The game takes very little time to understand - but if you are considering a certain strategy, it helps to practice without losing your money in the process. It's also wise to consider the odds and avoid selecting too many numbers at a time, because the more numbers you choose, the lower your chance of winning.

But no matter the strategy you prefer in the end, it's important to keep in mind that the game is largely based on luck, which is the main factor in your chances of winning. Keno is not the kind of game played for stable wins, as it's mostly fun mixed with expectation of extreme luck. Desperation and thirst for a big win can truly ruin the thrill of keno, so it's best to keep the fun part in mind and of course manage your bankroll considering the loss you can afford.

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