How To Play Keno

How to play keno

The name keno contains the French root ‘quine’ (five winning numbers) or the Latin root ‘quini’ (five each). However, all accounts show the origin of the game to be in China. It is said that the game’s invention during a time of war saved an ancient city, as the funds raised through its far-reaching popularity helped to fund construction of the Great Wall of China. 

Since then, countless variations have popped up all over the world in casinos and other gambling establishments. If you are wondering what a keno casino game is, please read on.

You can find all of our Keno games here at Mohegan!


Keno background

Keno is a fun and popular lottery-style game of chance that can be played for small wagers that can still turn a handsome profit should your numbers come up. It is available at almost any online or brick-and-mortar casino. 

In today’s post, we are going to take a brief but thorough look at this game, the rules, variations, and many other details. We hope that you find it helpful whether you’re a seasoned pro or you’ve never played before.


How to play keno

Keno is played by choosing a set of numbers from 1 to 80. After all the tickets have been created, 20 random numbers are drawn. If your numbers hit (either all of them or the payable amount), you win! The more numbers you pick, the fewer you have to hit to make a payday. 

It is virtually impossible to match all 20 numbers on a ticket. The exact odds of doing so, in fact, are 1 in 3,535,316,142,212,174,336. The biggest jackpots usually go to tickets where all nine or 10 numbers hit. Most people tend to play between three and nine numbers.


The rules of keno 

Keno casino game rules are simple and straightforward. You simply choose the type of ticket you wish to play (we will discuss the different options a little later on), select your numbers, and wait for the drawing. In live play, the balls are placed into a transparent container and are spun around until 20 numbers have been chosen. 

In machine keno, they are selected by a pseudo-random number generator, just as with slots, video poker, and other similar games.


Advantages of playing keno

What most players love about keno is that you can win large payouts from small wagers. For example, a progressive jackpot of up to $5m can be paid out on a $2 ticket! 

Although this is an extreme example where you would need to play a large, multi-number ticket and hit them all, the fact is that there are all sorts of ways to win thousands (and even hundreds of thousands) of dollars with bets in the single digits. 

Another great advantage is that it takes no skill to play, and no other players have any better chance than you do. It requires no training or practice. Anybody can walk right up (or log in online), pick their favorite or lucky numbers, and wait for the drawing.


Variations of keno 

You can play keno two different ways: live and video. They each have advantages and disadvantages and it really is a matter of preference as to which one you may like best.

Video keno

Video keno is a much faster game than the live version. In fact, it operates more like a slot or video poker machine, allowing players to get in several rounds in the same amount of time it takes live keno to complete one. Another benefit is that it has a lower house edge than live play.

Live keno

Live keno is found in brick-and-mortar casinos and usually has its own lounge area, much like a sportsbook (though usually smaller). It is similar to bingo in the way that it is played and the speed at which it progresses. You select your numbers on a keno card and make your bet.


Different types of wagers

Straight bet

This is a wager where a specific amount of numbers is chosen. From there, you will need to hit some or all of them to get paid (depending on how many you selected). A straight bet has only one section of numbers.

Way ticket

A way ticket differs from a straight bet in the sense that it can have several different number selections on it. This could be one group of four numbers, another group of four numbers, and then yet another group, this time with all eight numbers.

King number tickets

This type of wager will contain one specific number (king number) that is added to all of the other groups of numbers. It also plays one spot by itself. A good example is when you have a ticket with two three-spot wagers and you then choose a king number. Now, you have three different groupings.

Split tickets

These are tickets with a combination of two or more straight bets. The payout is the same as on straight bets, and there is no real upside to playing this way, other than to increase your odds and get a little more ‘sweat’ out of the drawing.

Combination ticket

A combo ticket is where you have two or more of the preceding wagers on the same ticket. It could be a straight bet and a way bet. It could be a king bet and a split ticket. It could be three king tickets or four straight bets. Whatever you want to play, you can put it on a combination ticket.


A few tips for beginners

Just for our readers who may be new to the game, we put together this simple list of casino keno tips:

  • Try to find special feature tickets
  • Choose games that have bonus features
  • Look for the best payouts (online)
  • Look for a progressive keno game

Strategies for keno

Although many gamblers believe that there are ‘tricks’ to winning at various gambling games, the fact is that keno truly is a completely random game of chance and there are no set strategies that can give you an edge. 

Some people may like to play certain clusters or blocks of numbers. Others may want to create tickets with multi-way winning opportunities. But no matter what you do, none of it actually increases your odds of hitting the necessary numbers. At the end of the day, luck will determine who wins.

No matter whether you are new to the game or have been playing for years, keno can be a great way to gamble on a budget. Small wagers with a shot at a nice win are something that every gaming enthusiast loves. Live casinos and online casinos with keno are available everywhere, so what are you waiting for?



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