For fans of bingo but who also enjoy a bit of gambling through the lottery, Keno is the game for them. Keno is a similar game in which a participant selects a certain selection of numbers of a game board. They then place a bet using the set numbers and, if the numbers they selected appear during the drawing, they are eligible to win money based on their bet.

The online game of keno and online bingo services can be played both online. This is also a popular game played in local bars and in casinos throughout the country. Understanding the basics of keno, how it is played, its history and how to properly bet can prove insightful and also help someone make the appropriate bet for their particular needs.

Traditional Keno

Traditional keno is played in the same basic way as keno over a television screen and online, the only difference is a physical person draws the numbers instead of a random selection over the computer system. In both live and online versions, there is a selection of 80 “balls”. This works in a similar manor as bingo, as each ball has a set number printed on it and none of the balls repeat numbers. All 80 of the balls are placed into a “bubble” or “drum” and spun, with one ball selected at a time. The person who is running the traditional, live version of keno presses a lever that opens a tube and a single ball falls out. The caller than announces the ball. A total of 20 balls are announced, or 1/4 of all the balls that are found inside of the bubble/drum.

Unlike bingo, in keno a player does not play against the other participants. Instead, they are just playing against the house. There is no limit on the number of people who can win and everyone waits for all 20 of the balls to be called out.

How to Play Keno

In keno, there are different methods for playing the game, all of which are based on the participant. First, a player needs to decide how many spots they want to play. A “Spot” is a number they select that they believe is going to appear on the Keno board and be selected. It is possible to select anywhere from 1 spot to 10 spots. The number of spots has no impact on the amount of money that is required in order to bet. However, the number of spots selected does play an impact on how much a person is able to win. The fewer the spots selected, the higher the payout is as it is more difficult to match two numbers when only three are selected over matching two numbers when 10 are selected.

After a person has decided how many spots they want to select they can then check off the numbers they wish to select. Now, there are two different ways to do this. They can simply check off the numbers on their own. In the traditional format, a player has a player card and they simply fill in a small box next to the numbers on the card. When playing online, they simply click on the numbers they wish to select (although the exact selection method can change slightly based on what online service the person is using). Many services also offer what is known as a “Easy Pick.”

This is where the computer system randomly selects a series of numbers based on the number of spots a player wants to play with. These numbers are selected at random, just like the numbers are drawn completely at random. This is all something that should be looked into and considered. There is no advantage or disadvantage of using this option, it just makes it easier, especially for someone who is playing multiple hands at once.

Once the person has checked off the spots they wish to play they are able to decide how much they wish to wager per round, or draw. The amount a person can bet is again going to vary, depending on the online service. For someone who traditionally plays inside of a bar, they are usually able to bet $1, $2, $3, $4, $5, $10 or $20 per round. The amount of money bet does not change the odds of winning or the payment percentage. It does alter the total payout though. For example, if someone wins $5 on a $1 bet, they would win $50 on a $10 bet or $100 on a $20 bet.

Many online services, as is the case during an actual game inside of a bar or during a real person draw, is able to select how many consecutive draws they wish to play. They can keep the same numbers for several draws if they want. Now, it is necessary to pay for each draw at the start of the first hand. So, if someone wants to bet $10 for 10 consecutive draws, they need to pay $100 for the entire session before they are allowed to partake in the first draw.

Depending on where someone is playing the game, there are sometimes a few additional features they can play. These two additional features are generally known as “The Jack” and “The Kicker”. These features are not available everywhere and even when they are available, it is an optional feature that someone does not need to look at or use if they do not want to. The Jack is more often used with online and television based bar keno but not in live-draw casinos where a person selects the numbers. Usually for an extra $1 bet per hand, a series of numbers are printed at the bottom of the betting card.

Then, following the conclusion of the round, the online service presents a listing of numbers. If the person's numbers match, they can win a rather sizable prize. Typically it is a series of eight numbers and most online available keno services that do use The Jack pay out some sort of bonus for matching four, five, six, seven or eight numbers. The Kicker is another additional bet that allows someone to increase the value of their bet. With an online service, after a person has selected to make “The Kicker” bet, there is a randomly selected number drawn at the beginning of every hand. This is known as The Kicker and it is used as a multiplier. Should a 3 be drawn as The Kicker, it means there is a 3x multiplier on all winnings for people who selected to play The Kicker during the round.


The payouts for keno are going to vary from one location to the next. However, the number of matches and general amount is typically the same from one location to the next. The number of spots has a very large impact on the amount of money that can be won. Now, the more numbers that are played the more money someone can win, but they need to match more numbers in order to win this amount. So, keeping this in mind is essential for someone looking to play keno online or through an online service inside of a bar. All of these keno payouts are the general rule, but it can vary, depending on where someone is betting.

First, there is The Kicker that should be looked at. A person is going to usually bet $1 more on their round in order to increase their potential winnings. However, there is a chance that The Kicker does nothing for them. In fact, there is a 1 in 2.3 chance (all of these numbers are averaged out, but the averages can vary again from one location to the other) The Kicker that comes up is 1, which means there is no multiplier. There is a 1 in 2.5 chance of the multiple being a 2 while a 1 in 16 chance of the multiple being both a 3 or a 4. The odds jump even higher to a 1 in 27 chance for the multiplier being a 5 and a 1 in 80 chance of The Kicker being a 10x multiplier.

As for the spots played, if someone decides to play only a 1 spot and select one number, they obviously only have one number they can win with. Should they match this one number they receive a $2 payout (all of these payout numbers are again based on general averages and if a person bets $1 per draw). Basically, this option doubles the money, regardless of the amount bet, but it is the only option to win. For someone who plays a 2 spot, they need to match both numbers. If they do, their winnings jump up to $11 for the $1 bet.

Now, if someone plays a 3 spot, there are two winning payouts. Should they match two numbers they receive a $2 payout. If they match all three numbers they receive a $27 payout on their $1 bet. With a 4 spot bet, a person now has three chances to win. If they match 2 numbers, they receive their $1 back. If they match three numbers they win $5 and if they match all 4 number they receive a $72 payoff. When moving up to the 5 spot game, if a player matches three numbers, they receive $2 back. If they match four numbers they receive $18 back and if they match all five numbers they win $410 on the bet. Moving up to the 6 spot, if a player matches three numbers they are going to receive their $1 back.

If a player matches four numbers they receive $7, if they match five numbers they win $57 and if they match all six numbers they win $1,100 for the bet. If someone plays the 7 spot game, they need to match three numbers to have the $1 payout. If they match four numbers they receive a $5 pay out. If they match 5 numbers they receive $11 and then $100 if they match six numbers. Should they match all seven numbers they are going to receive a $2,000 payout (for a $1 bet). With the 8 spot game, a person needs to match at least four numbers to win. If they match four they win $2.

If they match five numbers they receive $15 and $50 if they match six numbers. If they match seven numbers they receive a $300 payback and then this jumps up to $10,000 for matching 8. When playing the 9 spot, a player must match four numbers in order to receive a $2 payback. For matching five they receive $5 and for matching 6 they receive $20. Should they match seven they win $100 and if they match eight numbers they win $2,000. If they are able to match all nine numbers they receive $25,000 for a single $1 bet. Now, lastly, there is the 10 spot game. This is where a player selects 10 different numbers.

This is the one game where a player can actually win money for not matching anything. If a player does not match any of the numbers at all they win $5. However, if they match anywhere from 1-4 numbers they don't win anything. They need to match five numbers in order to win $2, match six numbers for $10 and match seven numbers for $50. This number starts to jump if they match eight numbers as they win $500 and then the payout is $5,000 for matching nine. The max payout is $100,000 for matching all 10.

There are a few variables someone can use to drastically increase the $100,000 winning. If they had played The Kicker and the 10x multiplier landed, they would win $1 million for a $1 bet. If they played the max $20 bet, they would walk away winning $20 million on one hand of keno. Again, all of this is going to vary based on where the player is playing the game online and what the payout options are, but in general, this is how much is paid out for playing the game in most locations.

Payout Odds

A person might think the odds either increase or decrease with the number of spots they play. However, this is not the case. The percentage of winning can vary and go up and down between each spot played. These payout chances of winning are based on the general numbers required to match as referred to above. For an online gaming keno option that changes the numbers required or alters the number of matches required to win is going to alter the payout odds (for example, if the particular online keno option does not have a match 3 payout for the 7 spot game, it is going to alter the odds than what is given here). In general though, a person who decides to play a 2 spot has a 1 in 16.83 chance of winning.

This number increases to a 1 in 6.55 chance of winning something if they play the 3 spot game (this isn't the chance of winning the maximum, but just winning something). The 4 spot game has the best odds of any of the spot games as there is an odds of winning set at 1 in 3.86. The odds for a spot 5 game drop to 1 in 10.34 while the odds of winning something in a 6 spot game are 1 in 6.19. The odds of winning something in the 7 spot game are the second highest at 1 in 4.23. The odds of winning something in the 8 spot game are 1 in 9.77 with the odds of winning something in the 9 spot game set at 1 in 6.53. Lastly, the odds of winning something in the 10 spot game are 1 in 9.05.

In terms of looking at it regarding the best odds to the least favorable odds, the order would be:

4 Spot Game
7 Spot Game
6 Spot Game
9 Spot Game
3 Spot Game
10 Spot Game
8 Spot Game
5 Spot Game
1 Spot Game
2 Spot Game

As a side note, while the majority of locations typically only play spot lines of 1 to 10, there are some locations that do allow individuals to play up to a full 20 spot. As this is the total number of balls selected, someone looking to win with a 20 spot would have to extremely beat the odds. In fact, the odds of correctly guessing all 20 balls selected is just over 1 in 3.5 quintillion. In general odds, if someone is just trying to go for the odds of matching all of the spots they play, they need to look at a different order of potential. If they are playing a game where they need to match all of the spots they select (instead of what was previously explained) then the odds to change. The odds for that are as follows:

There is a 1 0.12 percent change of not hitting any number during the draw. If someone plays a 1, there is a 1.12 percent chance of hitting when playing with a 20 spot. If someone is playing a 2 spot, there is a almost 5 percent chance of selecting both numbers. They have a 12.5 percent chance of hitting 3 numbers and a 20.5 percent chance of hitting 4 numbers. They then have a 23.3 percent chance of hitting 5 out of 20. From here though the numbers start to drop. They have a 19 percent chance of hitting 6 out of 20 and a 11.3 percent chance of hitting 7 out of 20. They then have just under a 5 percent chance of hitting 8 out of 20 and a 1.63 percent chance of hitting 9. This number drops to .39 for hitting 10 out of 20.

If they play a 20 spot they have a .07 percent chance of hitting 11 numbers and a .009 percent chance of hitting a 12. This number drops to .0008 percent chance of hitting 13 and a .00005 percent chance of hitting 14 out of 20. This drops to .000002 percent chance of matching 15 and a .00000007 percent chance of matching 16. Everything beyond that is so small a percentage it doesn't register. So, for those locations that require someone to play a 20 spot and it just goes off of how many numbers they match out of 20, it is important to keep these numbers in perspective. Matching 5 out of 20 is the most likely, following by 4 and 6 then 7. Everything else has under a five percent chance of landing anything.

History of Keno

Keno is a game that has been around for a long time now, although it has changed cultures and had some variations added in over the years. While it has been in its current form for some time (outside of being played either online or through watching a television screen at a local bar), there have been changes made to it in its past, and it still is a variation of bingo, as it is all about matching numbers on a game board. Despite this though, the word “keno” comes from a Latin word that means “five each.” However, although the name is Latin, this is a name that has been given it since after its inception. It is not a Latin game, but instead it actually comes from China.

There are no specific facts about the keno based game in China, only legend that dates back thousands of years. During a time of war, the Chinese empire needed a way to raise money but to also boost the spirits of the people living inside of the empire. In order to do this, the country created a game where every citizen would pay in a small amount of money. After paying the amount of money they would be given a few specific cards and icon combinations that where only given to them in this combination.

There would then be a drawing where if one person matched all of the numbers, they would be given a sizable fortune from the money collected. Now, the vast majority of the money was used to eventually build the Great Wall of China and to also help build the empire's army, but it proved especially popular as many of the poorer individuals living in China want the chance at winning, so the game continued on. While this is essentially a historic creation of the lottery and a form of keno, modern China did not accept a form of lottery in order to fund public needs was not employed until the end of the 19th century. In fact, there is no actual lottery documented before 1847, when the Portuguese opened up a lottery operation facility inside of China (even back in the 1800s, the government monitored the lottery in order to raise funds).

Although there is no exact documented date and time for a form of keno being played in China exists, it has remained in legend and tales of historical China for thousands of years. The idea of using 80 characters came from China though. After 1847 when the Portuguese brought back a form of lottery to China, the Chinese played using the first 80 characters of the Thousand Character Classic. Instead of balls though they played with slips of paper. This started the early evolution of what keno is now known today.

The version of keno remained in China and did not truly spread out until the middle of the 19th century when Chinese immigrants moved to California and western United States in order to help build the First Transcontinental Railroad. The Chinese called it “boc hop bu” or “puck-apu” based on the Chinese names used in reference to the game's origins. This is because results of the major keno games played in China were sent out to far away villages through the use of carrier pigeons. The name for it in Chinese was “baige Piao” which meant “White dove ticket” and was pronounced baak gap piu, which is where the early Western American pronunciation came about.

Now, while the game was played in California during this name, it was also becoming extremely popular in Texas at the time as well. In order to give it a more westernized name though, wealthy industrialists inside of Houston, Texas decided to use a Latin word, and they started to refer to it as “Keno” as they selected five numbers while playing the game and did not have the same option for selection anywhere from one to 10 different spots.

Keno has becoming one of the most popular methods of gambling in the world. It is easy to do and it can be played anywhere. The form of bingo may be played both in person and online.

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