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How to Play Keno - Beginner’s Guide

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Tracing its origins all the way back to ancient China, keno is often attributed as being a major source of funding for the construction of the Great Wall. Keno offers something a little different for fans of lotteries and bingo. Giving players the ability to pick their numbers and bet types provides more agency and room to form strategies. While the game isn’t all that widely available at land-based casinos, playing keno online is easy and highly accessible. This guide will walk you through everything you need to know on how to play keno online.

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How to Play Keno - Beginner’s Guide

Tracing its origins all the way back to ancient China, keno is often attributed as being a major source of funding for the construction of the Great Wall. Keno offers something a little different for fans of lotteries and bingo. Giving players the ability to pick their numbers and bet types provides more agency and room to form strategies. While the game isn’t all that widely available at land-based casinos, playing keno online is easy and highly accessible. This guide will walk you through everything you need to know on how to play keno online.

Keno Terminology

Before we dive headfirst into the rules of keno, we will first take a look at some of the common terminology used by players and croupiers alike. There are a lot more terms out there, but these should be enough to get you started.

Bubble

The name given to the container that holds and randomizes the keno balls. Named the bubble due to its transparency allowing you to see all the balls in motion. 

Call

A call is made every time a number is drawn. After a number is drawn its value is called out to the participants, hence the name.

Catch

If a number is drawn that is on your sheet, it is referred to as a catch. Essentially, catching numbers is the name of the game.

Number Pool

The range of numbers you have to choose between on your keno sheet. Most games of keno have a range of 1 to 80, but this can vary. Keep in mind that a larger number of pools will affect your odds of winning.

Way

An additional bet made on the ticket that holds your initial bets. If you already have a ticket with bets on it, any additional bets will be referred to as a Way.

Way Ticket

This is the name given to a ticket that contains a Way. These provide players with different paths to winning, although will naturally require you to split your wager across multiple bets.

Keno Rules

Keno owes a lot of its popularity to its relative simplicity. The main aim of the game is to pick a predetermined amount of numbers from the number pool. From there you are hoping to match as many of your picks with those being called throughout the round. A typical number pool will allow you to pick from numbers between 1 and 80. Players will most commonly have the option of picking up to 10 numbers, although, this can go up to 20 picks. The odds of matching all 20 numbers are astronomical, but catching between three and seven numbers is actually quite likely. 

It might first appear that you just choose as many options as possible in the specific game you are playing. However, the more numbers you select the more you need to catch to be eligible for the minimum payout. A minimum bet amount may also be applied depending on the number of picks you make. The minimum catches and payouts can change depending on the specific keno game you are playing. It is therefore always recommended to double-check the rules and payouts of any ticket you wish to wager on.

Keno Bet Types

Keno adds in a little more complexity by allowing players to wager on various bet types. Here we will cover the most common bet types available at online casinos.

Straight Bets

Straight bets are the most commonly placed bets and are especially ideal for newer players. This is a straight wager on matching your chosen numbers, hence the name. The more catches you get, the higher the payout. All you are concentrating on in this bet is matching the numbers. This means you can spend more time focusing on the rest of the game, rather than just on your bet. 

Way Bets

Rather than seeking to match your selections number by number, way bets group up your picks into a single wager. This bet allows players to select one or more groupings of numbers to be folded into a single bet. As you are betting on a group rather than a number, way bets do offer up more consistent wins, albeit at smaller amounts. You also have to keep in mind that this requires you to keep track of more numbers, which does increase the challenge somewhat. This bet is definitely ideal for players who have a basic grasp of all the fundamentals of keno.

King Number Bets

This bet type requires that you nominate a number as a King Number. This number is added to all combinations that you may have already made in the ticket. It also counts as its own pick. If you decide to place three-way bets on your ticket, alongside a king number, a total of four selections will be present on the ticket. The king number will be included in all these selections. This is especially great if you have your own lucky number, which you can incorporate into all of your bets.

Split Bets

Double the action in one round. Split bets allow you to play two sheets simultaneously. You must select different numbers on each sheet, so this doesn’t exactly synergize with king number bets. You do however have the benefit of spreading out your choices a lot more, although with the requirement of a higher wager cost.

Progressive Jackpots

Not so much a bet type in its own right, progressive jackpots do appear in specific keno titles. To ensure that your bets are eligible for the progressive jackpot, you will need to double-check the specific rules in play. It may well require that you make a specific minimum wager amount, bet type, number of selections or other requirements.

Keno Odds

Knowing the best keno numbers to pick is about understanding the odds. No matter what type of keno you decide to play, the odds are only ever affected by the number of possible selections available. Therefore, all keno games with 80 numbers will have the same odds attached to them. This makes it very easy to get a grasp on what number of matching numbers you should be looking for. The different payouts offered by different keno titles do muddle this somewhat though, as this can make a certain amount of matching numbers more or less appealing.

 

Matching Numbers

Likelihood

0

1 in 843

1

1 in 86

2

1 in 20

3

1 in 8

4

1 in 4

5

1 in 9

6

1 in 5

7

1 in 9

8

1 in 20

9

1 in 61

10

1 in 253

11

1 in 1,423

12

1 in 10,986

13

1 in 118,084

14

1 in 1,821,881

15

1 in 41,751,453

16

1 in 1,496,372,110

17

1 in 90, 634,035,964

18

1 in 10,512, 388,171,906

19

1 in 2,946,096,785,176,811

20

1 in 3,535,316,142,212,173,800

 

As you can see from the table above, matching between three and nine numbers is a good place to aim for. Anything after nine selections seriously raises the odds exponentially. This is 

important to keep in mind whenever you make your selections. Too many selections also increase your required minimum bet amount. Too few selections on the other hand will also see diminishing returns in likelihood.

Variations Of Online Keno

Each keno game variation offers something slightly different. 

Mini Keno

A more compact variant of more traditional keno titles. Mini Keno offers a number pool of only 40 selections. This also means that players only have a maximum amount of 10 selections. This also leads to faster rounds, which means you are making more betting decisions over a period of time. It is therefore not especially recommended for players with a smaller budget.

Power Keno

Power Keno makes a big deal about that last catch in a round. If the last call matches one of your numbers you benefit from a four times win multiplier. There is a number pool of 80 and 20 balls are drawn in each round. This means that there is a 1 in 80 chance to get that win multiplier on the last call. There is no need to make any additional wager or side-bet to be eligible for this multiplier. Players can choose between two and ten selections on a sheet.

Bonus Spot Keno

Another keno game based on applying win multipliers. Bonus Spot Keno instead awards players on the first call, rather than the last one in Power Keno. Apart from this, it acts in pretty much exactly the same way as Power Keno. The win multiplier may vary depending on the specific game you are playing but can be as much as ten times.

Virtual & Live Casino Keno

When playing keno online, you can choose between virtual and live casino formats. This is purely a subjective choice and either option provides its own benefits depending on your play style. Virtual keno games tend to be more widely available, however. Both formats have a similar and easy-to-understand user interface that allows you to manage your wagers and view certain statistics within the game, such as the paytable.

Virtual Keno

Virtual variants employ random number generator (RNG) algorithms to randomly determine the results of each round. This setup provides a solo experience, as you are the only player participating with the computer making the calls. The player can therefore set their own pace and even play with virtual funds in a free-play mode. The algorithms used are also third-party verified to ensure fairness and truly random results.

Live Casino Keno

Live casino games are as close to an authentic casino experience as you can get from the comfort of your own home. Players are connected to a live stream of the game in action, hosted by the provider’s own croupiers. Live chat functionality allows players to interact with one another, as well as the croupier. This comes together to provide a truly immersive experience that encourages sharing your highs and lows with your fellow players. The flow of each game is directed by the croupier and there is no free-play mode available in this format.

How to Play Keno - Tips & Strategies

The rules of keno are simple enough for anyone to learn, but winning is an entirely different matter. Even applying sound strategies cannot guarantee a win and more often it is good practice that benefits players in the long run. Below are a few examples of good practices that you can employ in your keno games. Again, these won’t guarantee that you will win but instead will guide you on how to more effectively manage your gameplay.

Budget Management

The first step for any person with a passion for gambling. Without effective budget management, you probably won’t get very far in your gameplay. Knowing what you can afford and how to then split this up into your wagers is an important step to becoming a more seasoned player. Having a budget of €10 and then wagering €5 on a single round of keno won’t get you very far. A bet suitable proportional to your budget is something you should always be aiming for. Wagering less on each round may not guarantee that you win more, but it will ensure that you can stay in the game for longer.

Free Play Mode

Especially strongly advised for new players, free-play or demo mode keno allows you to play your favorite casino games without wagering any of your actual funds. Instead, a virtual balance of unlimited funds is provided for you and all other aspects of the game remain unchanged. This lets you try out some strategies or simply get a feel for a specific title without immediately risking any of your cash. This is also great for more veteran players wanting to test out something new.

Pay Attention To The Game Rules

We touched upon this briefly in the Variations Of Online Keno section, however, it is really important for keno. Different variants of keno can change up the number pool, available bets and the range of picks you can make. More importantly, it can affect the various payouts. It is the payouts that put the odds into perspective and truly defines the worth of each bet. It is therefore good to shop around a little to find a variant that you are happy with.

How To Choose Keno Numbers

Any odds that contain a 19 digit number require nothing short of a miracle to happen. That is why you shouldn’t really be chasing the big catches. Basically, attaining a number of catches that manages to reach double digits is usually a little too ambitious. That is why most players instead opt to select between three and nine numbers in each round. The biggest odds here is 1 in 61, which is a much more realistic prospect. This offers a good balance of risk and reward.

Play Keno At Online Casinos

So, we’ve covered all the basics needed to get started on playing keno online. You may now be asking where is the best place to play keno? Well, the best place to find the answer is right here at GoodLuckMate. We have a bunch of casino reviews that tell you everything you need to know about the online casino in question. Game selections, promotional material, licensing status and the quality of support are all covered in each review, amongst other things. Be sure to check them out for yourself to find the keno casino online for you.

Nerijus Grenda
Nerijus GrendaUpdated: 06 Jun 2022
Nerijus is one of our top writers here at GoodLuckMate, and he knows exactly what casino players want to read about. He got started in the iGaming industry as a player, more specif...
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