Exposing the worst keno bets that inexperienced players make (and the best ones too!)
One of the most overlooked gambling amusements, especially at online casinos, is Keno. It’s tucked away in the ‘Specialty‘ section, so slots and table games fans rarely even come across it. But for those who do, it can be a very exciting way to win – or lose – some cash.
Admittedly, those who do know a lot about keno tend to avoid it altogether. Like most lottery-style games, it isn’t known for its profitability. Then again, the odds of winning at keno are a lot higher than most lottery games, so it’s not all bad.
In reality, if you place the right bets, keno odds are on par with online slot machines, hovering around 95%. Place the wrong bets, however, and you could be looking at a house edge as terrible as 75%. The trick is knowing which are the worst and best keno bets to make.
Keno Game Play
I’ll give you a brief introduction to the game, but I’m not going to bother going into specific paytables. There are simply too many variations to cover even the most common ones. Instead, we’ll focus on basic logistics and common sense betting.
Keno is represented by a screen with 80 sequential numbers (1-80). There are 10 numbers on each row, for a total 10×8 grid. The player’s objective is to select 1 or more numbers, known as Spots. The more numbers a player Catches, the more they can win.
The maximum amount of numbers a player can select ranges anywhere from 10 to 20 in most live/online casinos. The more you pick, the more you’ll need to match to win. Likewise, the more you match, the more you get for it.
Worst Keno Bets
The absolute worst keno bet you can make is, unfortunately, the one most beginners start with. You should never, ever, under any circumstance, select just 1 number. You have only a 25% chance of this number catching, and it only pays 3:1 if you do. The expected return to player (RTP) is an abysmal 75%.
Next up are a series of keno side bets that casinos came up with in order to swipe as much extra money off their inexperienced gamblers as they possibly can. Like most side bets, these are sucker bets, so don’t make them, ever. They are known as Heads, Tails and Evens.
Keno Heads: The Heads bet is a wager that 11 or more of the 20 spots will land in the top half of the table (1-40). The odds of this happening aren’t too good. And with an even-money payout, the house edge is 20.324% (RTP 79.676%). Ouch! That’s barely better than the single-number bet.
Keno Tails: The Tails side bet is the opposite of a Heads bet. To win, 11+ numbers must appear below the table’s median (41-80). The 20.324% house edge (RTP 79.676%) is the same, too.
Keno Evens: The Evens bet is only won if exactly 10 of the numbers land in the top portion (1-40) of the board, and exactly 10 on the bottom (41-80). Being so precise, casinos put a 3-to-1 payout on this to make it look more attractive. But it still affords an awful house edge of 18.703% (RTP 81.297%).
Best Keno Bets
The above wagers should be avoided like the plague. Knowledgeable keno fans will stick to mid-range selections of 6-9 numbers, where the RTP typically hovers around 92-95%. These are the best keno bets of all. To know which has the absolute highest RTP, you’ll have to refer to a specific game’s paytable, and the number of selections you’re allowed to make.
Microgaming, for instance, offers an online keno game with max 15 spots. In this version, the best bet is 9 numbers, carrying a 94.90% RTP.
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