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Best of John G. Brokopp

Gaming Guru

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Playing The Numbers Game Vegas Style

28 July 1999

If you like to gamble on your lucky numbers, Illinois and many other states across the country offer variations of the lottery, including Pick-3, Pick-4, Little Lotto, Big Lotto, and multi-state games such as Power Ball and the Big Game.

A much more fun way to play the numbers is the keno game available in almost every casino in Las Vegas. The video version of keno that's found at some local riverboat casino destinations is an acceptable substitute for lack of anything else, but there's nothing like the real thing.

I'm really not advocating playing the numbers games. I seldom play the lottery, simply because it's such a bad bet. Only occasionally have I played a keno game when my wife and I get away to Las Vegas. But I can see the virtues of keno as the game of choice for playing the numbers, simply because of the variations it offers and the value you can get for your betting dollar.

My intention here is not to get into all the mathematical disadvantages of the games. Speaking strictly from the standpoint of betting action, consider the fact that in both the Little Lotto and Big Lotto in Illinois you are required to have EVERY ball that's drawn in order to have a winning ticket.

In keno games, which are held every five or ten minutes or so in Las Vegas casinos, 20 numbers from the pool of 80 balls numbered 1 through 80 are picked. That's a full quarter, or 25 percent, of the available pool of numbers selected for each and every game. The six numbers selected from the Big Lotto's pool of available numbers represents a far lower percentage of the total.

Granted, the large rewards in the millions of dollars make the state lottery very attractive to seekers of riches. But if you're satisfied with hits in the hundreds of dollars, or even thousands, keno offers a wide variety of game options often for as little as twenty five cents a game.

For example, depending on the particular game you play and the amount you choose to wager, you can collect hundreds for clicking with all four of your numbers on a 4-number ticket. And don't forget, 20 numbers are drawn, not just four. If your four numbers are among the 20 numbers selected, you've got a winner.

My wife, Georgette, and I found a fun and inexpensive way to play keno on our recent trip to Las Vegas. The game may be found at the Rio Suite Hotel & Casino. It's a game that allows you to select eight of your favorite numbers on a single ticket, then play that ticket for 21 consecutive keno games for just 25 cents a game, for a total of $5.25. That's a whole lot of action for the money! For each and every game, you can collect $1.00 if you catch 5 numbers, $25.00 if you catch 6 numbers, $300.00 if you catch 7 numbers, and a whopping $10,000 if you catch all eight of your numbers.

You don't even have to follow along for every game. A winning ticket is redeemable for as long as 365 days after the date of purchase. You can redeem your ticket in person at the Rio, or send it to them via registered mail.

My wife and I got good news from the Rio about the 21-game ticket for 25 cents per game we purchased. I called the casino upon our return to Chicago and gave the keno representative the serial number on our ticket. Sure enough, we caught seven of our eight numbers on one of the games and discovered our ticket was worth $300!

The Rio's game is just an example of the bargain options that are available to keno players. You can probably find similar games at other casinos. The next time you're in Las Vegas, why not shop around for a keno game that's right for you? It's not worth investing a lot of money, but it's a fun diversion for a few bucks while you're sitting in the coffee shop or just taking a little respite from your serious gaming ventures.

John G. Brokopp

John G. Brokopp's gaming column appears in Chicago Sun Times (Chicago, Illinois), The Times (Northwest Indiana), The Quad City Times (Davenport, Iowa), The Courier News (Elgin, Illinois), The Gazette (Southwest Suburban Chicago) and Senior Wire (Denver, CO). He's also a regular contributor to The Colorado Gambler, Midwest Gaming & Travel, Casino Player and Strictly Slots. John possesses 28 years of experience as a professional handicapper, publicist, freelance writer, and casino gaming correspondent. He is also the author of two very popular books, The Insider’s Guide to Internet Gambling and Thrifty Gambling.

Books by John G. Brokopp:

> More Books By John G. Brokopp

John G. Brokopp
John G. Brokopp's gaming column appears in Chicago Sun Times (Chicago, Illinois), The Times (Northwest Indiana), The Quad City Times (Davenport, Iowa), The Courier News (Elgin, Illinois), The Gazette (Southwest Suburban Chicago) and Senior Wire (Denver, CO). He's also a regular contributor to The Colorado Gambler, Midwest Gaming & Travel, Casino Player and Strictly Slots. John possesses 28 years of experience as a professional handicapper, publicist, freelance writer, and casino gaming correspondent. He is also the author of two very popular books, The Insider’s Guide to Internet Gambling and Thrifty Gambling.

Books by John G. Brokopp:

> More Books By John G. Brokopp