How to Play Keno

Posted by James Guill . Last updated:

Ready to learn how to play keno? Halfway between bingo and the lottery, keno is the perfect luck-based game for beginner gamblers. In our guide, you’ll learn what is keno, how it works, where to play, rules, strategy & more!

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Once you’ve honed your keno strategy, test it out at one of the best online casino sites:

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How to Get Started Playing Keno on the Web

a green laptop with a profile picture and two check marks on the screen

Register

The first step towards playing keno is to register for free at a casino site. This should only take a few minutes and some basic personal information.

a green band of cash

Deposit

Unless you’ve picked up a no deposit bonus, you’ll then have to deposit some cash to fund your casino account. You can do this in the cashier area of the site.

green multicard keno icon

Play On!

When the funds appear in your account, you’re all set to select a keno game and start playing. Just load up the game, set your stake and keep your fingers crossed!

How to Play Keno

Keno is the perfect game for beginners because it’s luck-based and requires no skill or strategy. It’s also similar to bingo which you may have played in school. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to play keno:

  • Place a bet
  • Select your numbers
  • Watch winning numbers be revealed
  • Matched your numbers, receive payout

It’s really that simple!

free online keno casino game
free online keno casino game

Best Keno Strategy

three white keno balls - showing 1, 2 & 3

Hot vs. Cold Numbers

Many keno sites advertise their ‘hot’ numbers which have been drawn as winning numbers recently as well as their ‘cold’ numbers which haven’t appeared for a while. Feel free to ignore both. In keno, the numbers drawn are completely random so a ‘cold’ number has just as much chance of winning the next round as a ‘cold’ one.

rule book

Paytables

Each keno game has its own paytable. These paytables often shift depending on how many numbers you select. The higher the amount, the higher the payouts. Be sure to check the paytables before you bet.

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Bankroll Management

As with all online casino games, bankroll management is key in keno. Because the game has a high house edge and rounds are fast-paced, it’s easy to lose money quickly. Keep your stake size small and play the long game to give yourself the chance to strike up some wins. Never chase your losses or play with tilt.

How Does Keno Work?

green question mark in the center of a circle

Keno Numbers

Keno is a game of chance, and there is no way to correctly predict the numbers in each and every round. Many games try to lure you in to betting big by offering huge jackpots, but be wary! The chances of selecting all 20 keno numbers are 1 in 3,535,316,142,212,174,320.

Since safe casino sites use Random Number Generators built into the software of each game, you can rest assured that the outcome of each round is entirely down to chance.

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Keno Payouts

When playing online, keno payouts are automatic. If you’ve correctly predicted enough of the winning numbers to earn a payout, the casino will credit your account immediately.

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Keno Odds

As previously mentioned, the odds in keno are not player friendly. Keno is a game best played for fun, and should not be used to try and make money.

If you select 20 keno numbers, your odds of hitting 5 numbers (enough for a small payout) are around 1 in 4. To get to the bigger payouts, you’ll have to match even more numbers. The odds of hitting 8 numbers are 1 in 20, while the odds of hitting 10 jump up to 1 in 254! Though they payouts for those high number matches are appealing, they happen infrequently.

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Keno Glossary

If you’re playing keno on the internet, you’ll want to know what some of the key terms mean! Here is a quick keno glossary:

  • All or Nothing: A format of keno where the player wins if ALL of their numbers are drawn or if NONE of their numbers are drawn.
  • Autopick: The online game function which automatically selects random numbers on your keno card.
  • Blank: A keno ticket that has not been played yet.
  • Catch: The numbers you predicted which have been chosen as winning ones.
  • Catch Zero: Keno has many game variations; Catch Zero is one where the player doesn’t need to match any numbers on their ticket.
  • Deuce: Two spots on a keno ticket that are next to each other.
  • Draw: The 20 numbers that appear on the screen during one round of keno.
  • Field: All the uncircled numbers on a keno ticket.
  • Group: The numbers on a keno ticket that have been marked after appearing on screen during the draw.
  • Hit: When a player’s selected number on their ticket appears on screen during the draw.
  • House Edge: The casino’s advantage over the player, which in keno is roughly 25 percent.
  • King: If you choose only one number on a keno ticket.
  • Left / Right Ticket: When a player selects a vertical series of numbers and bets the numbers on a specific side of the ticket.
  • Mark/Spot: A selected number on a keno card. Spot is often used to describe the number of marks selected, eg a 10 spot ticket has 10 selected numbers.
  • Push: When the payout exactly matches your initial stake.
  • Race: A single game of keno.
  • Straight Ticket: When a player selects a group of numbers 1-20 on a regular keno ticket.
  • Top Bottom Ticket: Like the left-right ticket, but a horizontal bet where the player hopes the draw numbers hit on the top or bottom of the ticket.
  • Two-Way Ticket: Two batches of numbers on the same ticket result in two separate bets.

Keno History

The origins of the keno game can be traced back to ancient China. This historic lottery-style game has evolved into its modern-day presence in casinos worldwide.

2,000 – 200 BCE

Keno traces its origins back to ancient China. Baige pao games were popular in the 3rd Century and are credited as the forerunners of keno, bingo, and the modern lottery.

Legends say that funds from baige pao games funded the construction of the Great Wall of China.

1840s

During the boom of Western expansion in North America, Chinese workers came to the United States and Canada to work on the construction of the railroads.

Chinese workers introduced the game of baige pao to their international co-workers. They substituted the original Chinese characters for numbers. The game was also re-named keno, from the French “quine“.

1930-50s

In order to avoid a ban on lotteries in Nevada, Reno casinos converted keno to ‘Racehorse Keno.’ This game substituted numbers for the names of racehorses.

21st Century

Keno continues to grow in popularity. Both in the US and abroad, many public lotteries also offer keno games alongside traditional lottery games.

How to Play Keno FAQs

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James Guill

James Guill is a former professional poker player who writes fro GambleOnline.co about poker, sports, casinos, gaming legislation and the online gambling industry in general. His past experience includes working with IveyPoker, PokerNews, PokerJunkie, Bwin, and the Ongame Network. From 2006-2009 he participated in multiple tournaments including the 37th and 38th World Series of Poker (WSOP). James lives in Virgina and he has a side business where he picks and sells vintage and antique items.

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