Last Updated: January 20, 2016

# Keno

## Introduction

Note: The page addresses the conventional keno game, known as Spot Keno, where the player picks 1 to 20 numbers from 1 to 80 and the game draws 20 balls. There are links to keno variants towards the bottom of the page.

Keno is a simple game of luck, much like most lottery games, where the player chooses numbers and hope as many as possible match those randomly drawn by a hopper or machine. The simple form with no multipliers or extra balls is called Spot Keno and is addressed on this page. See the Internal Links section below for many keno variants.

There are two formats for playing keno: live and video. In live keno, the player uses a crayon and paper to indicate his picks. Every few minutes numbers will be a live draw from a hopper filled with numbered balls. In video keno, the player touches a screen, sometimes using a wand, to pick numbers and the machine does the draw randomly.

Like most games of pure luck, the odds in keno are pretty poor. Keep reading to learn more about the rules and how much you can expect to lose on the game.

## Rules

Following are the rules for basic keno:

1. The player makes a wager and indicates which numbers he wishes to pick. The picks are made on a slip of paper in live keno and by touching the screen in video keno. The range of numbers the player may pick from is 1 to 80.
2. The number of picks the player may make depends on the game itself. Usually the range is 2 to 10 or 1 to 15.
3. The game will randomly choose 20 out of 80 balls.
4. If the game chooses a number the player chose that is known as a "catch." The player is paid according to the number of balls he catchs.

## Examples

Following are some common video keno pay tables found mostly on Game Maker machines. The bottom row shows the expected return.

### Pay Table 1

Catch Pick 2 Pick 3 Pick 4 Pick 5 Pick 6 Pick 7 Pick 8 Pick 9 Pick 10
0 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1
1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2 5 2 1 0 0 0 0 0 0
3   11 5 3 2 1 1 0 0
4     40 10 5 2 2 1 0
5       400 49 22 10 5 5
6         1,000 275 40 40 25
7           2,500 500 400 120
8             5,000 1,000 500
9               5,000 2,000
10                 10,000
Return 86.08% 84.66% 85.97% 85.79% 84.96% 85.33% 84.57% 84.25% 86.43%

### Pay Table 2

Catch Pick 2 Pick 3 Pick 4 Pick 5 Pick 6 Pick 7 Pick 8 Pick 9 Pick 10
0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2 14 2 2 0 0 0 0 0 0
3   40 3 2 2 1 0 0 0
4     100 14 4 2 1 1 0
5       800 92 15 12 3 3
6         1500 348 112 47 28
7           7760 1500 352 140
8             8000 4700 1000
9               9000 4800
10                 10000
Return 84.18% 83.25% 86.14% 85.31% 85.21% 85.31% 84.17% 84.87% 86.72%
Hit frequency 6.01% 15.26% 25.89% 9.67% 16.16% 23.66% 10.23% 15.31% 6.47%

### Pay Table 3

Catch Pick 1 Pick 2 Pick 3 Pick 4 Pick 5 Pick 6 Pick 7 Pick 8 Pick 9 Pick 10
0 - - - - - - - - - -
1 3 - - - - - - - - -
2   15 2 2 - - - - - -
3     43 5 3 3 1 - - -
4       77 12 4 2 2 1 -
5         750 55 21 12 6 5
6           1,600 335 98 40 21
7             7,000 1,450 300 142
8               10,000 4,700 1,000
9                 9,000 4,000
10                   10,000
Return 75.00% 90.19% 87.41% 87.74% 88.06% 88.02% 87.68% 89.07% 87.57% 88.80%

### Pay Table 4

Catch Pick 2 Pick 3 Pick 4 Pick 5 Pick 6 Pick 7 Pick 8 Pick 9 Pick 10
0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2 14 2 2 0 0 0 0 0 0
3   45 5 3 3 1 - 0 0
4     85 11 4 2 2 1 0
5       804 68 20 12 6 5
6         1,500 390 98 44 23
7           7,000 1,550 300 132
8             10,000 4,700 1,000
9               10,000 4,500
10                 10,000
Return 84.18% 90.19% 90.19% 90.33% 90.76% 90.85% 90.67% 89.93% 89.79%

### Pay Table 5

Catch Pick 1 Pick 2 Pick 3 Pick 4 Pick 5 Pick 6 Pick 7 Pick 8 Pick 9 Pick 10
0 - - - - - - - - - -
1 3 - - - - - - - - -
2   15 2 2 - - - - - -
3     46 5 3 3 1 - - -
4       91 12 4 2 2 1 -
5         810 70 21 12 6 5
6           1,600 400 98 44 24
7             7,000 1,652 335 142
8               10,000 4,700 1,000
9                 10,000 4,500
10                   10,000
Return 75.00% 90.19% 91.58% 92.03% 91.93% 92.67% 92.44% 92.31% 92.00% 92.55%

### Pay Table 6

Catch Pick 2 Pick 3 Pick 4 Pick 5 Pick 6 Pick 7 Pick 8 Pick 9 Pick 10
0 0 0 0 1 1 1 1 1 1
1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2 15 3 1 0 0 0 0 0 0
3   37 12 3 1 1 - 0 0
4     64 28 14 4 1 1 1
5       170 62 33 30 8 2
6         300 175 70 65 36
7           325 250 178 115
8             350 325 225
9               375 300
10                 400
Return 90.19% 92.96% 92.77% 92.72% 92.66% 92.64% 92.62% 92.66% 92.69%

### Pay Table 7

Catch Pick 1 Pick 2 Pick 3 Pick 4 Pick 5 Pick 6 Pick 7 Pick 8 Pick 9 Pick 10
0 - - - - - - - - - -
1 3 - - - - - - - - -
2   15 2 2 - - - - - -
3     48 5 3 3 1 - - -
4       100 13 4 2 2 1 -
5         838 75 22 13 6 5
6           1,660 422 100 44 24
7             7,000 1,670 362 146
8               10,000 4,700 1,000
9                 10,000 4,500
10                   10,000
Return 75.00% 90.19% 94.35% 94.78% 94.95% 94.99% 94.92% 94.90% 93.60% 93.20%

The following Pay Table 8 I saw on a 25¢ Aristocrat video poker game at Binion's Las Vegas on October 13, 2019.

### Pay Table 8

Catch Pick 2 Pick 3 Pick 4 Pick 5 Pick 6 Pick 7 Pick 8 Pick 9 Pick 10
0 - - - - - - - - -
1 - - - - - - - - -
2 15 2 2 - - - - - -
3   45 5 3 3 1 - - -
4     85 11 4 2 2 1 -
5       804 68 20 12 6 5
6         1,500 390 98 44 23
7           7,000 1,550 300 135
8             10,000 4,800 1,000
9               10,000 4,500
10                 10,000
Return 90.19% 90.19% 90.19% 90.33% 90.76% 90.85% 90.67% 90.26% 90.28%

## Surveys

In 2001 I did a survey of every live keno casino game in Las Vegas. The returns ranged from 65% to 80%. In other words, the house edge was 20% to 35%, making live keno among the worst bets you can make in Las Vegas.

In 2012 I did a similar survey of live keno in Laughlin, which showed a range of return of 50% to 74%.

In 2008 I did a survey of video keno in San Diego. The returns ranged from 84% to 95%.

In 2017 I redid my Las Vegas video keno survey, which can be found at Wizard of Vegas.

If you must play keno, the only skill is choosing where to play to play and then how many numbers to choose. It makes no difference which numbers you choose. Contrary to popular myth, legitimate keno games, like those in Las Vegas, are fair and every ball has a 1 in 80 chance of being drawn each game. To determine the odds of any keno game you can use my keno calculator. Just put in the pay table and you will see how much you can expect to get back every bet.

However, I tend to think anybody who would take the trouble to analyze the game is probably not playing it in the first place. The odds in video keno are about as bad as slot machines. If you want to lose a lot less money gambling I would highly recommend converting to video poker. For live keno players, I would suggest converting to bingo.

## Practice Game

Get your keno fix right here on my practice game.

## Calculators

We have calculators to determine the payback for any pay table for the following keno games:

## Scouting Guide

When you're in the casino it would take a long time to put in every pay table through my many calculators above to determine the best game to play. That is why I created two printer-friendly guides you can print out and take with you:

• My Keno Scouting Guide is a short reference to the best available game for any pay table for all the most popular forms of keno. Each game has a table showing the possible pick-10 pay tables available and the best number of picks for that game and its return. See the last page of the guide for a full explanation how to use it.
• My Full Pay Table Report is a longer guide showing every known pay table for all the major keno games and their associated return. For those who want to know the return for any number of picks, not just the best number (which the Keno Scouting Guide provides).

For a printer-friendly document showing keno pay tables and returns for several major keno games please see my Keno Scouting Guide (PDF). Perfect for printing and taking to the casino to find the best game and pay table available.

## Keno games by U1 Gaming

Following are keno games by U1 Gaming.

## Videos

This video shows how to calculate the odds in keno using Excel.