All Day Bingo

Keno and Bingo

Keno is a little like bingo, a little like the lottery, and has odds a lot like both - very bad for the player, very good for the house.

The most impressive figure is the one that's always quoted for the big prize of $25,000: one-in-nine million. That's about the same chance you have of catching the bubonic plague.

The keno lounge has advantages over the drafty front lobby where the slots are, and where you have to stand up, so that might be a good reason to play keno. As with the slots, investment is low.

Although you lose, you don't lose much. For many heavy bettors, the keno lounge is a sort of time-out spot, a place to watch the pretty legs of the casino runners, have a couple of free drinks, and lean back in soft chairs.

If they also lose a few dollars, it's nothing to what they've just lost, or are about to lose, out at the tables.

The best bet in keno is probably the two-spot ticket, where a win pays $13 on a $1 investment, and the odds against you are a mere 20 to 1. Actually, all keno cards have 80 numbers on them, and the bettor chooses whether to try for one hit, two, three, four, and so on, up to 15.

You mark the numbers of your choice and the amount of your bet, and then send the card back up front with that pretty runner.

When all the cards are in, 20 numbers are drawn. If you hit, you're paid off accordingly. A three-spot win, where the house advantage is close to 30 percent, pays only even money for two out of three.

The odds against hitting all three of your numbers are already out of sight. As in bingo, the uninformed player might assume that the more numbers you mark, the better your chances of hitting big.

This isn't so. Keep your keno bets small and you'll not only cut your losses but slightly increase the chances that you might actually win something.

Bingo, of course, is more at home in church basements than in glittering casinos. And you won't find bingo lounges in the really big casinos, where bingo players would only take up room with their twenty-five-cent bets that could be used for another craps table or roulette wheel.

But bingo does exist as a casino sport, if only to accommodate the more or less non-gambling wives and mothers of high rollers in the other room. Bingo is, and always has been, a woman's game, a gentle and sedate kind of betting where nobody really wins much and nobody gets hurt much, either.

Nowadays, there are plenty of women down at the blackjack tables, too, but there are still many who are un-hip enough or frugal enough to prefer bingo to the "hard stuff'. Over the years, there have been many bingo systems, some of them elaborate enough to require actuarial training just to understand. For the most part, none of these will do you any good.

Most depend on choosing your own cards, looking for ones with as many different numbers as possible or numbers with different endings. In the first place, most of us can't take in a card with 25 numbers on it all at once.

We have to stare at it for a while, compare the numbers, and check it out.

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