17 Jan

The Abysmal Odds of Winning Keno Explained

Understanding Keno Odds: Discover what ranks this exciting game among the worst choice in any casino.

Understanding Keno Odds and Why It’s Among the Worst Casino Games

Keno can be a very exciting game to play. The progressive selection of 20 numbers draws out the anticipation, giving players a greater sense of mounting expectancy than most alternative gambling options. For this, I commend the game, and casinos for making it so readily available.

Unfortunately, that’s where the positives end, and the negative attributes begin. Keno is, in reality, among the worst games on any casino floor, physical or virtual. The game play, as well as the odds of winning, are akin to a lottery drawing. Both offer big prizes, but with terrible chances of actually winning them.

Understanding Keno Odds

The object of the game is to choose one or more numbers from a pool of 80, in hopes that your chosen number(s) will be among the 20 that are randomly selected and winners. This alone tells us that, with a single number selected, the odds of catching that number are 20 in 80, or 1 in 4. That equates to a 25% chance of getting lucky.

The payout for catching a single number is 3 to 1. That means you’ll be given your original bet back, plus two more equal units, for a total profit of 2 units. For example, a bet of $1 receives $3 back, but only $2 of it is your winnings. The original $1 was yours already.

If we combine the odds of winning with the profit for doing so, it comes out to an expected return of 75%.

How does 25% odds jump to 75% return? It’s because of the boosted payout. At 25% odds of winning, if I place the same bet four times in a row, probabilities state I should win one of them. If I’m betting $1, then I will lose three time and win one time. For wagering $4, I am given back $3 – a loss of $1 out of $4 wagered – or 75% of my wagers. Hence an expected return to player (RTP) of 75%.

Why Keno Is Such a Bad Casino Game

How bad is a 75% RTP? Let’s compare it to some of the casino’s other most famous gambling amusements. How about blackjack, which has a standard RTP of anywhere from 99.4% to 99.7%? Baccarat is a popular choice, coming in at 98.4% on Banker bets, 98.76% on Player. Then there’s European roulette, featuring an RTP of 97.3%. Even slot machines – rumored to be the worst paying games in any casino – pay an average of 92% at walk-in casinos, and 96-97%% online.

Then there’s keno, where betting on a single number comes across with an abysmal RTP of 75%.

Not all keno bets are this terrible, though. It realyl depends on where you play the game, the pay table they enforce.

In video keno machines, where the player can choose 1 to 10 numbers, the RTP tends to range anywhere from 75-90%. Those odds are still well below most of the games on the casino floor.

If you really want to play keno, and want to ensure you’re getting the best odds while you do it, forget land-based casinos altogether. Log onto any reputable Microgaming-powered online casino and choose to play their version of the game.

Microgaming’s keno odds rise as high as 94.90% on 13 picks. You need to match 3 or 4 numbers to earn half your bet back (still a loss), while matching 5 to 15 pays anywhere 3x to 6000x the bet. The following table shows the RTP per number of picks on Microgaming’s online keno game. Note that the “Catches to Win” column does not include catches that pay less than the amount wagered.

Number of Picks Catches to Win Return to Player
1 1 75.00%
2 1 92.09%
3 1 93.04%
4 2 93.79%
5 2 93.87%
6 2 93.79%
7 3 94.15%
8 3 92.90%
9 3 93.43%
10 3 94.54%
11 3 93.10%
12 4 94.22%
13 5 94.90%
14 5 94.27%
15 5 94.39%

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