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Gambling Guide

Keno for Beginners

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What Exactly is Keno?

 Keno is a lottery type game in which the player picks a range of numbers from 1 to 10 on a keno card out of 80 numbers, and 20 numbers are drawn in a variety of different games.

The game itself is easy to play, and you can vary it by playing with a smaller selection of numbers, with a payout for as low as 2 numbers being selected, or for 10 numbers.

You can also vary how much you’ll bet on the game, and how many games you’d like to enter. However, for more seasoned players there is also the option to up the game a bit with way tickets and number groups. In our Keno for beginners guide we will tell you more.

Image Credit: Jeffrey Beall.

How to Get Started?

At your casino or bookmakers, get hold of a keno card. This will be numbered 1 to 80 and you’ll need to select between 1 to 10 numbers on the card, although this depends on the specific casino or game you’re playing. Some places even let you pick up to 20 numbers.

The ticket costs the same no matter how many numbers you pick, so you can pick the maximum, but the payout will vary depending on how many numbers you select. If you only pick three numbers, you can still get a return on hitting two numbers, but for 10, you need at least five numbers to win anything.

There is also an option for a “quick pick” in which the computer picks the numbers out, which still carries the same probability of winning as manually choosing the numbers. However, if you put more numbers down, then the higher the payout if you score more numbers.

The player also has the option of how much he or she wants to bet, with a minimum of $1 through to $10 or $20 a game. There is also the option to put down how many games the player wants to play.

The keno machine usually picks 20 balls per game, so the winnings and the payout will depend on the casino and how many numbers you selected and scored. Playing keno like this is pretty easy.

However, if you want to try a more challenging variant of the game, then you can get a way ticket.

In this case, as an example, you choose six numbers, circle them into two group of three and then mark the bet on the side. In this specific example, you bet $3 on the game with $1 bet on one group of three and another on the other, and $1 on all six numbers.

The numbers can also overlap in combinations, which alters the betting pattern, so be sure to write what you want on the side of the ticket.

Also some keno games vary, while some have bonuses, others might not.

Keno Strategy

It’s hard to employ some serious strategy in a game that relies on chance. Keno is not dissimilar to a lottery, where each number has the same probability of coming out, so it’s impossible to predict, but you can employ some tips and tricks to make it work.

However saying that, there are some things you can employ to skew the odds in your favor.

First, make sure you look for the best payout schedules. Analyze the payout table before playing, so you can figure out the payback over time. There is plenty of software online that can train you to do this.


As mentioned earlier, the number of spots picked out doesn’t affect the cost of the bet, and while picking 10 numbers increases the odds that more numbers will be drawn out on your list won’t necessarily guarantee you’ll take home more. You’ll need to get more numbers in these cases to win anything so it may not be the best method. Four to eight numbers is a good sweet spot. Also playing ways can also help you win more, since you have more than one wager taking place, but these are only available in offline casinos.

Keno Tips and Tricks

  • Make sure you know where the cashiers are, you’ll want to cash your winnings in quickly without having your ticket declared null and void by the time you get there.
  • Pay attention to the games. You want to get the numbers in for the game on time and pick the winnings up on time.
  • Remember the numbers are random. Just because the numbers didn’t come up in the first draw, doesn’t mean they won’t get picked in the next one.
  • Patterns have the same odds as any combinations. Numbers 1,2,3,4,5,6 has the same chance of coming up as 3,15,29,34,50,74.

Keno Rules

  • The player makes a wager on a keno slip and indicates which numbers he or she wishes to pick and also marks how many games he or she wants to play and for how much. The range of numbers ranges from 1 to 80.
  •  The number of picks the player will make depends on the casino and the game itself, which usually ranges from 2 to 10 and sometimes 1 to 15.
  •  The game will choose 20 balls out of the 80.
  •  If the game chooses the number the player chose labelled as the “catch”, the player is then paid accordingly to that number.

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About the author

Barbara is a German-born Austrian with unresolved identity issues and a degree in Ecology and Nature Conservation. She doesn't have a degree in journalism or any related field, but such details can't keep her from being one of the best.

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