How to Win at Keno

Many people consider Keno to be an arcane and difficult game, but this article shows that it’s simple learning how to win at Keno.

How to Win at Keno – Winning Keno Tips

Even though online Keno is a classic game of chance, there are still strategies for improving the Keno odds and maximizing Keno payouts. While computing the odds requires some elementary statistics, the strategies for winning at Keno are comprehensible with even basic arithmetic skills.

Just Drawn That Way

To learn how to win at Keno, consider how Keno numbers are drawn. 20 balls, one after another, are drawn from a pool numbered from 1 through 80. The first ball has one of 80 possibilities. Drawing the second ball increases to 3,160 the number of possible outcomes. Continuing until the 20th ball, the total result is 3,535,316,142,212,174,320, or three and a half quintillion, potential outcomes.

A Hit is Not So Odd

Although there are literally billions of billions of combinations of Keno draws, the fact that 20 out of 80 balls are drawn means that any single ball has a one in four chance of being drawn. And those are the odds for matching, or hitting, any single number. Which means that the odds for winning with a “one spot card,” a play which bets on a single number, are also one in four.

For a two spot card, the smallest play in many online games, there are three effective outcomes: both spots miss, one of the two spots hit, or both hit. The first spot, as noted has one chance in four of hitting, and three out of four to miss. After the first spot, there are 79 balls remaining to match. In the case of the hit, there is then a 19 out of 79 possibility of hitting a second match. So the total possibility is 19 out of 316 (four times 79) to match two spots out of two. Continuing the calculation for the case of a miss, after the 3 out of 4 chance there is a chance of 59 out of 79 for the second spot to also miss. So a no hit outcome on a two spot card happens 177 out of 316 times. Combining the two known outcomes of 19 and 177 accounts for 196 out of 316 possibilities. The remaining 120 out of 316 (or 30 out of 79) possibilities are where either the first spot was a hit and the second a miss, or vice versa; both possibilities have the same outcome, that one spot of two matched.

Expressing these numbers as decimals instead of fractions makes them easier to compare.

# of Spots # of Hits Possibility
1 0 0.750 (75%)
1 1 0.250 (25%)
1    1.000
2 0 0.560 (56%)
2 1 0.380 (38%)
2 2 0.060  (6%)
2    1.000

Using this same technique, it’s possible to compute the probabilities for each of the other combinations of number of spots played versus the number of misses. These Keno odds are the same for every Keno game anywhere, online or in-house.

Not All Payouts Are Created Equal

What distinguishes one Keno game from another are the Keno payouts, and that’s where the secret of how to win at Keno is found.

Each game has its own payout table, and the payouts don’t exactly match the odds for each spot / hit combination. As an example, payout for a hit on 1-spot play of $1 might be $3, meaning 3:1 odds are paid for a win that only has a 25% chance to win, so the “worth” of that play is $3 times 0.25, or $0.75. The same game might pay $14 for a 2-hit win on a 2-spot play. With a 6% chance of that win, the play’s worth is $14 times 0.06 or $0.84. The 2-spot play is a better value than the 1-spot play in that game.

With a standard chart of Keno odds, it’s possible to review the payout tables for any Keno game and compute the “worth” of each play. Finding “sweet spots” in a game’s payouts reveals the best plays to make. Smart money will take advantage of these points in the table to choose the best number of spots to play in any game.

By understanding the odds and knowing how to read the payout tables for any game, it is easy to figure out how to win at Keno.