Keno is a game that has been around since the 19th century, if not much earlier. It belongs to the same family of games as bingo and lotteries and requires no skill to play. This makes it suitable for beginners and experienced casino players alike. In this article, you will learn all you need to know about how to play Keno online. We'll discuss how keno in NZ works, the odds of succeeding in a standard game, the kind of strategies that people commonly employ to help give themselves the best chance of winning, and more. Let's get started.
Like lottery draw games, keno requires players to select numbers and match as many of them as possible. There are many different keno variations, but a standard game uses a range of numbers from 1 to 80 and allows players to select up to 20 of them. The game will then draw 20 numbers at random and the player will win a prize (or not) according to how many of those lucky Keno numbers they have been able to match.
Keno was a popular game at land-based casinos long before online gaming was developed. In the old days, keno numbers were painted on balls that were stored in a cage and drawn at random, much as in the game of bingo. Today, keno numbers are most often virtual rather than physical and are drawn by software that uses a random number generator (RNG) to keep things fair.
Since keno numbers are always drawn at random, there is no way for a player to influence the outcome of a game. On the contrary, this is a game of pure chance, which is quick and easy to play.
The focus of a keno game is on something called the board. This is a display that shows all of the numbers in the range being played, such as 1 to 80, in numerical order. Some games use smaller ranges, such as 1 to 60, and we will talk more about that in our later section on Keno Variants.
Traditional keno games at land-based casinos allow players to pick up to 20 numbers from the range available, but when you are playing Keno online it is much more common to be able to pick up to 10 or 15. You can always choose less than the stated maximum, and that can often be a good idea, as you'll see later.
Set Your Stake
The first thing you need to do when playing keno online is set your stake. You do this in the same way as when playing an online pokie, which is by clicking an up or down arrow to increase or decrease your stake to the desired level.
Select Your Keno Numbers
Now you can select the numbers that you want to enter for the next drawing. This is achieved by clicking your chosen numbers on the main board. Your numbers will be highlighted so that you can easily see which ones you have already chosen.
Check that your stake and selected numbers are as you want them to be, then click the Play or Draw button. That will set the game in motion, and the winning numbers will be drawn, one at a time. Winning numbers will also be highlighted on the main board, and if any of them happen to be ones that you have chosen to play, each number that you 'catch' will be clearly marked.
As we said earlier, the aim of keno is to match as many of your selections as possible. When all the winning numbers have been drawn, you will be paid a prize (or not) according to how many of your selections were randomly chosen by the game. The payment of any prize due will take place automatically.
The odds of winning a prize in a keno game depend on a number of variables, including the quantity of numbers in the playable range and how many of them you can select to play. For that reason, we can't provide odds or payouts for every possible variant. The good news is that you can easily find payout information by visiting the paytable of the game you are interested in playing.
What we can do here is provide the odds for a certain type of game so that you have some understanding of just how difficult it can be to win at the highest levels. Here then, are the odds for a standard game that uses numbers in the range of 1 to 80. If we assume that you choose the maximum of 20 numbers, your odds of catching anything from 0 to all 20 are as follows:
- 0 1 in 843.38
- 1 1 in 86.44
- 2 1 in 20.11
- 3 1 in 8.00
- 4 1 in 4.87
- 5 1 in 4.28
- 6 1 in 5.25
- 7 1 in 8.82
- 8 1 in 20.05
- 9 1 in 61.42
- 10 1 in 253.80
- 11 1 in 1,423.82
- 12 1 in 10,968.70
- 13 1 in 118,084.92
- 14 1 in 1,821,881.62
- 15 1 in 41,751,453.98
- 16 1 in 1,496,372,110.87
- 17 1 in 90,624,035,964.71
- 18 1 in 10,512,388,171,906.55
- 19 1 in 2,946,096,785,176,811.50
- 20 1 in 3,535,316,142,212,173,800.00
As the above example makes clear, the odds of you catching all of your selections will always be worse than the odds of you catching a few of them. For this reason, keno games adjust their payouts according to how many selections you enter and how many you manage to catch.
Because the odds of catching a larger number of selections get so astronomical, it can often be a good idea to play 10 or 15 numbers, or even fewer, than choosing a maximum of 20. Of course, you are free to pick however many numbers the game allows, but the odds of you matching 20 out of 20 in a 1 to 80 game are extremely slim. In fact, your odds of winning a regular lottery jackpot would be many times better, so you might want to lower your sights and aim for 5 out of 5 or 10 out of 10 instead.
Different keno games will let you play a variety of ticket types, according to your own preference. Here are a few of the main options you are likely to encounter so that you know what each one offers.
- Straight Ticket: This is the most standard of entries in a game of keno, and it allows you to choose one set of numbers, up to whatever maximum is permitted. In some games, this is the only type of ticket that will be available.
- Split Ticket: With this ticket, you can enter two different sets of numbers, as long as you don't use any number in both groups. This will give you two chances to win a prize in the same game.
- Way Ticket: This type of ticket makes it possible to play multiple groups of numbers in various ways. For example, if you pick 8 numbers you could play them as 1 group of 8 and 2 groups of 4.
- Quick Pick: This is a ticket for anyone who wants to leave their selections entirely to chance. Play a Quick Pick and your numbers will be selected at random on your behalf.
When you start exploring online Keno games at your favourite casinos you will soon discover that they come in a number of variations. Some will have different ways of presenting the game, while others will have slightly or significantly different rules. We will leave you to discover all of the available variants in your own time, but here are a few of the most common ones to get you started:
You can think of this as a simplified version of the standard game, because it uses a smaller range of main numbers (typically 1 to 60 or 1 to 40 instead of 1 to 80) and allows you to pick a smaller selection (up to 15 or 10 numbers instead of 20). As well as being ideal for beginners, Mini Keno games take less time to play due to the fewer numbers being involved. This means you can play more games – and have more chances to win – in less time than with a standard keno game.
Most online keno games are completely virtual, but Live Keno games are presented by human dealers. The games are streamed live by video from purpose-built studios so that they are as realistic as the ones you would play in a land-based casino environment.
Just as some pokies give you a chance of winning a progressive jackpot, so do some keno games. Every time someone plays one of these games a small percentage of their bet will be added to the progressive jackpot fund. The entire amount of the progressive jackpot will be paid to an eventual winner, at which point the jackpot fund is reset so that it can start building for the next winner.
This keno variant aims to make the game even more exciting by increasing the prize won by any player who matches the final number that is drawn. For example, many Power Keno games that draw 20 numbers will quadruple payouts for players who catch the 20th. You will also find variants of Power Keno that enhance the prizes for those who catch the 1st number drawn.
Free Keno vs Real Money Online Keno
The best online casinos will give players the opportunity to play keno games for free in one way or another. The most common is by making games available in demo mode, which gives you the chance to play for fun money only. These games play exactly as they would in real money mode, but obviously, you won't be taking any financial risk, so you won't win any real money.
Another way of playing free keno is by using any casino bonus funds that you might have in your account. Most casinos give bonus funds to new players, so if you have some to spare you could use them to buy a little no-risk keno gaming.
Playing free keno is a great way to get to grips with the game, or a variant that you haven't played before. Then, when you are confident that you know what you are doing, you can progress to playing online keno for real money.
Because keno results are determined by random drawing, there is no strategy that can be used to improve the mathematical odds of you winning. However, there are things that you can do to give yourself a fighting chance, so let's take a quick look at some of the most useful tips and strategies we know of:
Check the Rules
As we’ve said a few times, different keno games can have different rules and payouts. For that reason, the first thing that you should do before you play any new game is familiarise yourself with the rules of that particular game. This will help you to avoid making any false assumptions that could harm your chances of winning.
Pick Low-Hanging Fruit
All keno players dream of picking 20 numbers and catching all of them, but the odds of you doing that are astronomical. If you want to have a good chance of winning, aim for something more achievable by playing 5 or 10 numbers. Better to pick low-hanging fruit than to aim higher and lose more often.
As with lottery and bingo games, the more often you play keno, the more chance you will have of landing a win at some point. This being the case, stake sensibly, and bet smaller amounts so that your bankroll can fund more games. Playing 10 keno games at NZ$1 each will give you a better chance of winning than playing 1 game for NZ$10.
All casino games have certain words and phrases that are specific to them, and keno is no exception. Here are some of the main terms that you are likely to come across and what they mean:
- Bankroll: A sum of money that you have set aside for online gaming purposes. Your bankroll should be comprised of money that you have to spare and that you can afford to lose.
- Balls: The numbers drawn in a keno game can also be referred to as balls. This is because keno numbers were once printed on small plastic balls that were drawn manually.
- Blank: A keno ticket that has not yet been filled in.
- Board: The main display of all numbers used in the game.
- Cage: The name of the physical device that was used to store and draw keno balls before software-driven games came along.
- Catch: The term used to refer to a number that a player successfully matches.
- Draw: The part of the game that generates the winning keno numbers.
- Keno Results: The winning numbers that are generated by the Draw.
- Live Keno: Any keno game that is presented by a human dealer.
- Paytable: A chart or list showing the prizes that will be paid for winning.
- Quick Pick: A random selection of numbers chosen on behalf of the player.
Keno is one of the most popular games of chance around, so most of the leading game providers have been keen to ensure that they have their own versions available. Just a few of the companies that have released particularly good keno games in New Zealand include Evoplay, Microgaming and EGT.
It is often said that keno has its roots in a game developed to raise funds for the construction of the Great Wall of China. If that is true then it is probably the oldest casino game in the world, but it's a difficult claim to prove. What we do know is that keno, as we know the game today, has been around since at least the 19th century. The fact that it's still going strong is evidence of its popularity.