Keno

“Instructional Video now in Production”

Keno /kn/ is a lottery-like gambling game often played at modern casinos, and also offered as a game by some lotteries.

Players wager by choosing numbers ranging from 1 through (usually) 80. After all players make their wagers, 20 numbers (some variants draw fewer numbers) are drawn at random, either with a ball machine similar to ones used for lotteries and bingo, or with a random number generator.

Each casino sets its own series of payouts, called “paytables”. The player is paid based on how many numbers were chosen (either player selection, or the terminal picking the numbers), the number of matches out of those chosen, and the wager.

There are a wide variety of keno paytables depending on the casino, usually with a larger “house edge” than other games offered by that casino. The house edge ranges from less than 4 percent to over 35 percent. The typical house edge for non-slot casino games is under 5%.

Probabilities

Keno payouts are based on how many numbers the player chooses and how many of those numbers are “hit”, multiplied by the proportion of the player’s original wager to the “base rate” of the paytable. Typically, the more numbers a player chooses and the more numbers hit, the greater the payout, although some paytables pay for hitting a lesser number of spots. For example, it is not uncommon to see casinos paying $500 or even $1,000 for a “catch” of 0 out of 20 on a 20 spot ticket with a $5.00 wager. Payouts vary widely by casino. Most casinos allow paytable wagers of 1 through 20 numbers, but some limit the choice to only 1 through 10, 12, and 15 numbers, or “spots” as the numbers selected are known.

The probability of a player hitting all 20 numbers on a 20 spot ticket is 1 in 3,535,316,142,212,174,320.

Even though it is virtually impossible to hit all 20 numbers on a 20 spot ticket, the same player would typically also get paid for hitting “catches” 0, 1, 2, 3, and 7 through 19 out of 20, often with the 17 through 19 catches paying the same as the solid 20 hit. Some of the other paying “catches” on a 20 spot ticket or any other ticket with high “solid catch” odds are in reality very possible to hit:

Hits Probability
0 1 in 843.380
1 1 in 46.446
2 1 in 20.115
3 1 in 8.009
4 1 in 4.877
5 1 in 4.287
6 1 in 5.258
7 1 in 8.826
8 1 in 20.055
9 1 in 61.420
10 1 in 253.801
11 1 in 1,423.822
12 1 in 10,968.701
13 1 in 118,084.920
14 1 in 1,821,881.628
15 1 in 41,751,453.986
16 1 in 1,496,372,110.872
17 1 in 90,624,035,964.712
18 1 in 10,512,388,171,906.553
19 1 in 2,946,096,785,176,811.500
20 1 in 3,535,316,142,212,174,320.000

Probabilities change significantly based on the number of spots that are picked on each ticket.