A Complete Guide to Keno Strategy
Keno is one of the most popular casino games of modern times, and virtually all online casinos (and land-based casinos) have some version of it. This lottery-type game is easy to learn how to play, but the complications of the math involved make strategy particularly difficult to figure out on your own.
An Introduction to Keno
Keno is a lottery-style game that involves trying to guess numbers that will be pulled from a hopper (real or virtual). Generally speaking, the more numbers you get correct, the better your payouts.
The premise of this game is really simple, but the fact of the matter is that it’s unreasonable to expect the vast majority of players to be able to figure out correct strategies on their own.
This is because the math involved in solving these correct strategies is difficult to the point of generally needing to be done by a computer program. Because there are no real intuitive elements to the game overall, it’s hard to figure it out by “feel” as well.
Instead, the best way to learn strategy for this title is to simply learn what the best wagers are for each particular pay table.
The General Rules of the Game
There’s not really a lot to know about how to play Keno, and that’s one of the reasons why it’s such an incredibly popular game. You can literally learn how to play it in under a minute and not even take up the full 60 seconds.
Here’s a quick overview of how this game is played:
- You choose the amount that you want to wager from whichever options are available.
- You choose how many numbers you would like to pick for the game.
- You make your picks from the numbers available and confirm your selection.
- The winning numbers are chosen at random and listed on the board.
- Your amount of matching numbers are shown, and if you matched enough of them, your payout is awarded.
It’s pretty simple, but there are some variable components to the game here. First, there are different numbers of picks that you can have to choose from, and that choice is actually what determines your average payout based on that title’s specific pay table. Second, there can be different amounts of numbers on the board to begin with, though 80 is the standard that most games follow, which also changes things up a bit.
Getting Started With Keno Strategy
The basics of Keno strategy are really straightforward, but it’s the actual implementation of that idea that can be a little tricky. That’s because you’ll literally have to re-check your strategy for every single different kind of Keno that you play.
While that’s inconvenient, it’s just the fact of the matter.
The approach that we’re going to take here is about giving you an idea of what types of bets and resulting payout percentages are available for each of the most popular online casino software providers out there. The general strategy is then to pick out the best option that fits the type of volatility you’re looking for and to go from there.
Volatility and Payout Percentages
There are two variables that you’ll want to try to balance when picking out a Keno strategy that works for you:
- Payout percentage
One way to play is simply to keep the payout rate as high as possible, but that’s not always the best option from a practical standpoint if the volatility is going to be really high. Some players prefer for the volatility to be lower, and that leads us to a very important principle of this game:
The more picks you have, the higher the volatility gets.
You’ll see examples in games where something like a Pick 12 might give the best overall payout percentage while something like a Pick 4 has just a slightly lower payout rate with a much more tolerable volatility. In a scenario like this, many players would go for the Pick 4 because they prefer a low-volatility style of play.
It’s completely up to you, and that’s why strategy for Keno can be somewhat subjective in certain scenarios.
With that having been said, let’s get into what’s available at a number of software providers.
Pragmatic Play Keno Strategy
The Keno game by Pragmatic Play has a really straightforward layout with 80 spots to choose from and a pick range of 1 to 15. Something notable about this game is that, other than the Pick 1 option, most of the options overall have pretty balanced payout rates with none of them being lower than 92 percent.
The really notable wagers available for this game are as follows:
- Best Overall Option
– Pick 13 (94.90% payout)
- Best Mid-volatility Option
– Pick 7 (94.15%)
- Best Low-volatility Option
– Pick 4 (93.87%)
These are pretty much above-average payouts in terms of what’s available in the larger online Keno offering, and it’s hard to find many games with a lot better payout rates than this.
Realtime Gaming Keno Strategy
The main Keno pay table found at the majority of Realtime Gaming casinos has 80 spots to choose from and the ability to get 1 to 15 picks. This is a common layout, but the payout tables themselves have a really top-heavy distribution. As a result, the top wins are higher than average, but you need more picks to actually pick up any type of win, which is atypical.
Here are the most notable bets for this game:
- Best Overall Option – Pick 11 (86.75% payout)
- Best High-volatility Option – Pick 14 (85.41% payout)
- Best Low-volatility Option – Pick 4 (84.51% payout)
As you can see, these pays are really on the low end of the scale. The problem is that most players wouldn’t have any idea that this is the case just by looking at the pay tables since the larger wins are actually bigger than what you’ll find virtually anyone else.
This is a good example of how these strategies for Keno are not intuitive on any level and why you simply need to know the payouts ahead of time. Overall, we recommend that you avoid the RTG Keno games because of their low payouts.
Playtech Keno Strategy
Playtech has a number of Keno games with different sets of graphics and themes, but they all have the same pay tables and rules. While there are 80 balls to pick from, their games are atypical in that you can only pick a maximum of 10 numbers at a time, and no Pick 1 option is available (which is fine since it’s usually the worst option in the game anyway).
Much like the Pragmatic Play Keno game, the payout rates for Playtech’s version are pretty evenly distributed.
In fact, all nine of the options have payout rates between 92 and 93 percent. These are pretty average payouts that aren’t bad at all, but here are a few that are notable:
- Best Overall Option – Pick 2 (92.96% payout)
- Best Mid-volatility Option – Pick 6 (92.67% payout)
- Best High-volatility Option – Pick 10 (92.55% payout)
If you like switching between different numbers of picks on a whim without wanting to worry too much about the payouts of those options, then Playtech’s game might be the best choice out there for you since all of the picks are really close in value from a strategic sense.
Microgaming Keno Strategy
Another software provider with pretty average payouts is Microgaming. They have a standard 80-spot game with options to pick from 1 to 15, and like always, the Pick 1 is a sucker bet with a super-low 75 percent payout rate.
There’s nothing particularly interesting about this game that stands out, so here are the most important betting options:
- Best Overall Option – Pick 13 (94.90%)
- Best Low-volatility Option – Pick 4 (93.79%)
- Best Mid-volatility Option – Pick 10 (94.54%)
Just under half of the available picks in this game have payout rates of more than 94 percent, which are average to above-average. The rest (other than the Pick 1) are between 92 percent and 94 percent, which are below-average to average.
Net Entertainment Keno Strategy
NetEnt always tries to do something a little different with their traditional games so that they stand out, and that’s the case with their Keno game, which they call Bonus Keno. It has a progressive jackpot that is won on a certain combination of numbers (3, 4, 14, 24, 34, 44, 51, 54, 62 and 63) that make out a “J” pattern.
You can choose any of the bet sizes and still qualify for the jackpot. You’ll win a percentage of the prize based on your percentage wagered of a €5 bet.
For example, if you hit the jackpot with a €1 wager, then you’ll win 20 percent of the jackpot since you’ll be wagering 20 percent of €5.
The volatility of this game is really high no matter what you do because of the progressive. You have about a 1 out of 8.77 million chance of hitting the progressive, and it’s never particularly large (rarely, if ever, breaks mid five-figures), so we can’t recommend it as a good value.
Regardless, the best overall wager in terms of payout percentage is the Pick 10. However, it still has a payout rate of less than 85 percent without the jackpot and less than 90 percent with the jackpot included, which makes it the single worst game overall on our list.
Keno is a game that’s tricky to suggest strategies for because all you really need to do is pick out which option is best for you on the software provider you’re playing with according to the values that we have described above.
There is the issue of picking out which level of volatility you prefer and balancing that with the payout percentages, but it’s not a particularly complicated thing to do. In this sense, Keno strategy is really easy if you have the right reference material like what we have given you above, but it’s virtually impossible to figure out on the fly as soon as you sit in front of a game on your own.