A Game Guide to Keno

KenoKeno is a lottery-like game that is often played at modern casinos and online. Many people enjoy playing keno because it’s fast-paced, exciting and easy to learn, making it a great option for first-time gamblers.

Keno today is available at both offline and online casinos, but also at some restaurants and bars. But how does it work, and how can you win? Read on to find out.

Keno Basics

Historians are actually unsure about how the game was originally created. Some legends suggest that a man named Cheung Leung invented the game as a way to finance his wars and the Great Wall of China. Upon investigating the famed man, we at Smartphone Casinos discovered some inconsistencies regarding the era, man himself and the validity of the strange claims.

What we did find out, however, was that the game was brought to America during the 1800s by Chinese immigrants. As the Chinese railway workers moved west across the country, the game followed and quickly became popular. Keno was later added to casinos but faced several challenges in the forms of new laws and rules.

The game changed frequently, leading to the creation of the popular keno game played and loved today.

How to Play Keno

Keno is actually incredibly simple. Unlike many other casino games such as poker, keno doesn’t really involve any strategy or particular skills, it’s all based on luck. The first thing players should do is grab a keno card, which lists the numbers one to 80. If playing in real life, the cards can be found at casinos or keno lounges at restaurants and bars. If you’re playing online, just open up that browser or app to a keno card.  

Now, the objective of keno is to match the numbers of the balls coming out of the keno machine to the numbers on your card. To do this, players are required to select numbers and mark them on the scorecard. Each number is called a keno spot and the card will specify how much you’re allowed to chose. With online casinos, the amount depends entirely on the casino.

A game of Keno

Some keno cards allow you to select anything between one to 10 numbers, while others allow you to select up to 20 numbers. Others will have a “quick pick” section where a computer generates the numbers for you.

After selecting the numbers, players then decide how much money they want to put down on the selected numbers as well as how many keno games they want to play. For example, if a player wants to play seven rounds and places a £1 bet on the numbers, it totals £7. Players can bet as little as £1 or as much as £20, it all depends on the casino you’re playing with.

After this, a keno machine will randomly select 20 balls and release them. If the numbers the player selected matches the balls released by the keno machine, the player wins. How much they win depends entirely on how many numbers match and how much players had bet.

The online version of the game is much simpler than the live versions, as all you need to do is log in, select up to 20 numbers depending on which casino you’re playing with, select how much you want to bet on the numbers and watch as the numbers are drawn.

Keno Bets

There are a number of different bets players can make in the game, giving players different options to win.

  • Straight Ticket: This bet is the simplest. When players place this bet, they’re betting on a group of numbers in a single wager. For example, if a player marks down six numbers and bets on two groups of three numbers.
  • King Ticket: A king ticket is when players decide to mark a single number within a group or combination of other numbers. This sole number is referred to as the king number.
  • Combination Ticket: A combination ticket allows players to bet on several different number selections on the same ticket.
  • Split Bet: A player making a split bet is basically making more than one straight ticket bet on the same ticket.

Keno Terminology

Ball Game: A keno games that is played with plastic balls representing numbers, the most common form of keno today.

Blank: An unused keno ticket.

Blower: Part of the real machine used to select the keno balls, it uses air to force the balls into a tube where they are removed by the keno operator.

Bowl: Part of the real machine that collects balls when the blower is turned off.

Cage: A compartment used to hold the keno balls.

Caller: The casino employee who calls the keno numbers.

Catch: A number marked on the keno ticket called during the game is called a catch.

Catch All: A keno game in which players are required to catch all the numbers on their ticket.

Catch Zero: A keno game in which players are required to catch none of the numbers on their ticket.

Exacta: A ticket played for two games which offer special payouts.

Hit: When a selected number matches the drawn number.

House: The casino.

Inside Ticket: A completed keno ticket handed back to the casino.

Keno Balls: The balls used to select numbers in keno, numbered one to 80 and around the same size as bingo balls.

Outside Ticket: The official game ticket handed back to the player.

Payoff: The amount paid to a player for their ticket.

Race: A single keno game.

Sleeper: A winning ticket not presented for payoff.

Ticket: The keno ticket used by a player to mark their numbers, features all 80 numbers.