How to Play Keno: Rules & Strategies (2024)

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Master this fun, fast-paced, lottery-style game (online or offline)

Co-authored byFinn Kobler

Last Updated: June 18, 2024Fact Checked

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  • Mastering the Basics
  • |
  • Betting on Combinations
  • |
  • Keno Variations
  • |
  • Video
  • |
  • |
  • Tips



If you want to gamble without risking too much, keno is the perfect game for you. Playing keno is similar to the lottery (though it offers much higher chances of winning). To play keno, you select numbers on a ticket and you get paid if a combination of your numbers are chosen. That’s it! Because of its simple strategy, this game is universally beloved and offered in plenty of places: bars, casinos, even online. So keep reading. In this article, we’ll offer you a simple play-by-play of the game itself and the best advice on how to walk away richer than when you started.

Things You Should Know

  • To begin a keno game, fill out a keno card by betting on numbers (or keno spots) that you think will be randomly selected. Try to guess as many out of 10 as possible.
  • Buy “way” keno cards if you want to bet on groups of numbers as well as individual spots. If you match multiple numbers in your group, you earn more money.
  • To increase your jackpot, bet on additional bonus numbers. Bonus numbers cost additional money to wager, but offer a higher payout percentage if selected.
  • Join keno games with lots of people. The payout for each game is determined by the number of players.

Method 1

Method 1 of 3:

Mastering the Basics

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  1. 1

    Acquire a keno card. To play keno, fill out a card with the various numbers you want to place your bets on. Cards are generally found at specified keno lounges in casinos. If you’re playing online, a keno card will automatically be shown on your screen after you log into a game. The numbers on the card (1 through 80) match the numbers on the balls in the aerated keno machine.[1]

    • Some casinos may use a randomized computer to select winning keno numbers instead of drawing balls from a machine. All online keno games use this method as well.
    • Certain lotteries have different versions of keno cards. Some have special bonus or “jackpot” cards available, in addition to their regular cards. Ask if more than one type of keno card is available.
  2. 2

    Select your keno numbers and mark them on your keno card. Once you’ve gotten a keno card, begin writing down or filling out the numbers you wish to bet on. Each number you select is called a keno spot. Your keno card is arranged with 8 rows and 10 columns of keno spots. The card will specify how many numbers you're allowed to choose.[2]

    • Some cards will allow you to choose anywhere from 1 to 10 numbers, while others will say anything up to 20 is okay. The ticket costs the same amount either way, so it’s in your best interest to choose as many different numbers as possible.
    • Some cards will have a "quick pick" section where you can have a computer randomize your selections for you. Your odds of winning remain the same regardless of how you choose to fill out your numbers.
    • Some keno results boards will display “hot numbers” and “cold numbers.” Hot numbers are numbers that are selected often, while cold numbers are numbers that haven’t appeared recently. Don’t fall for the trap of using these numbers to determine your choices! Since the system is random, every number has an equal opportunity of being selected, regardless of previous results.


  3. 3

    Choose your betting amount and how many games you want to play. Each keno card offers you the choice to play multiple games with the same numbers. In addition, you can multiply your betting amount to increase your winning total if your spots are selected. (For example, you can bet $2 instead of $1 to receive double the payout, $3 to receive triple, and so on.) Make your decisions and indicate your choices on your keno card.[3]

    • If you bet $1 on your selected numbers and want to play 7 games, that'll cost $7. If you double your bet, it’ll cost $14, and so on. However, you cannot vary your betting amounts on the same card. (For example, you couldn’t select 7 games, bet $1 on the first, $4 on the second, $3 on the third, etc.)
    • You can wager as little as $1 on a single bet and usually up to $20. However, the betting amount varies on the location hosting the keno game.
    • Start betting small and set a predetermined budget before playing any keno games. You'll have more fun if you play responsibly.
  4. 4

    Hand your keno card to a keno worker. Once you’ve selected your keno numbers, hand your keno card to an official who will factor your chosen spots into the next game. An electronic copy of your card will be issued back to you so that you can follow along as numbers are announced. Double-check your choices to ensure that everything is correct before handing your card over.[4]

    • If you selected “quick pick,” your electronic copy will show you what numbers the computer randomly selected for you.
  5. 5

    Wait for the keno machine to determine the results. Keep your eyes on the electronic keno boards throughout your venue to see the results of your keno games. The number of the game you're playing will appear somewhere on your ticket and on the screen (usually in the bottom corner). Once you’ve found a board displaying the results of your game, match the numbers on your ticket to the numbers on the screen. If you have a match, you win!

    • How much money you win will depend on how many numbers you matched and how much you wagered. Most keno boards will display the payout for each number of spots matched.
    • Your payout depends on the number of keno tickets in each game. In some instances, a single dollar can net a payoff of tens of thousands. Ask a keno worker for an explanation if you're unsure. Some keno parlors also utilize a special payoff for selecting a bonus number.
    • Every house is different; there is no average payout. However, most payouts tend to range from below 70% to around 80%.[5] You want your payout to be as close to 100% as possible.
  6. 6

    Declare your winnings. If you have a winning number (or numbers), call a keno worker over to receive your payout. Or, bring your ticket to any keno retailer in your area. Then, submit an electronic keno card to verify your matches and collect your payout.[6]

    • After you’ve collected your winnings from one game, play another. Games are usually played in 4-minute intervals. That's the best part about keno is it's constantly going non-stop.
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  1. 1

    Use a "way" ticket to bet on combinations as well as individual numbers. Ask a keno worker for a special “way” ticket, which will allow you to bet on various number sequences. For example, you might choose 6 numbers. Circle these six numbers in 2 groups of 3. Then, on the side of the ticket, mark "2/3" and "1/6." This means you want to bet $3. $1 is on one group of 3, $1 is on the second group of 3, and $1 is on all 6. You’ll receive higher payouts if all the numbers in your group are selected.

    • Each number combination requires an additional wager.
    • You can select as many combinations as you want from your selected numbers. You could split 18 numbers into 9 groups of 2, 3 groups of 6, or anything in between. However, experts advise grouping numbers in 3s and 4s for the best chances of winning.
    • Think of way tickets like horse racing. Hitting the winner is good; hitting win, place, and show is even better.
  2. 2

    Bet on overlapping number combinations as well as separate sets. Use the same numbers in multiple combinations to increase your likelihood of matching. For example, let's say you have a group of 2, a group of 3, and a group of 4. Combine these groups together by creating a group of 5 (3 and 2), a group of 6 (2 and 4), a group of 7 (3 and 4), and a group of 9 (all the numbers). For $1 per group, this would cost $7 with 7 potential payout structures.

    • Some way tickets allow you to bet 50 cents on groups instead of $1 for half the original payout.
    • There is no evidence that certain overlapping number combinations are more likely to hit than others. Results are completely random each time. However, the larger your combination is, the less likely you are to match the entire set.[7]
  3. 3

    Add a "king" to your number combinations if you’re feeling adventurous. When a number is circled all by its lonesome, it is "king." You can insert individual, disparate numbers you bet on (kings) into other sequential number combinations.[8]

    • Let's take that first example of 2/3 and 1/6. Suppose the groups you bet on are 7, 8, 9, and 62, 63, 64. Add a king (in this case, a number 6 or lower, between 11 and 60, or above 64) on top of these combinations to create 2/4 and 2/7. Since the king has now joined each group of three, it is added to the final total, creating 7 spots instead of 6.
    • To specify that a number is king, simply label it on your card and draw an arrow to the group of numbers you wish to add it to.
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Method 3

Method 3 of 3:

Keno Variations

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  1. 1

    Make an additional wager on the bonus for a higher payout. Many state lotteries or casinos have some type of bonus for all keno games. To bet on a bonus, select a specific additional number and bet extra on that bonus number. (The extra cost can be anywhere from $1 to double your wager.) If this number is selected, you’ll win big.[9]

    • Sometimes, the bonus is called a bull's eye, sometimes a booster, sometimes just a bonus. But you’ll know it when you see it.
    • The bonus payout varies. It can be anywhere from double the winnings to 20x the normal rate. Ask the keno worker at your station how your specific venue’s bonus works.
  2. 2

    Play keno online or in video form instead of face-to-face. Some casinos offer keno via touch screens instead of in-person, and some keno games can be played completely online. While the payout for online games tends to be higher, the gameplay is much faster. Meanwhile, video keno allows you to play at your own pace, but the payouts are less impressive. Decide what game is best for you.[10]

    • Some video keno games require only penny or nickel bets. Check what your minimum bet is before you begin a game.[11]
  3. 3

    Keep the progressive jackpot in mind when betting. Many casinos offer a progressive jackpot. In a progressive jackpot, if no one hits it big, the payout keeps growing and growing until someone matches. Many progressive jackpots have reached well over 100% of the betting value!

    • One of the best strategies to succeed at keno is to join a game after the progressive jackpot has already increased a few times. This way, you get a much higher value for your wager.
  4. 4

    Try packaged keno when purchasing your tickets. Similar to "buying in bulk," play “packaged keno” to bet on more games at a lower price (usually around 25 to 50¢ instead of $1). Packaged keno games allow you to play your keno cards whenever you want (sometimes even from the comfort of your own home), as long as you give your ticket to a keno retailer beforehand.[12]

    • Packaged keno is only offered in select casinos and apps. Talk to a keno worker at your local venue for more information.
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Community Q&A


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  • Question

    Do I have to pay to replay keno tickets?

    How to Play Keno: Rules & Strategies (19)

    Community Answer

    Yes, you just take your ticket to the counter and tell them you would like to play those same numbers again, and pay for it.

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    How many numbers do I need to match?

    How to Play Keno: Rules & Strategies (20)

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    It depends on how many numbers you're playing. If you have two to four numbers, you would need two matching numbers; if you have five to seven numbers, you would need three matching numbers; and if you had eight to nine numbers, you would need four matching numbers.

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    What is the payout when I hit the bullseye?

    How to Play Keno: Rules & Strategies (21)

    Community Answer

    It depends on the amount of numbers you selected to play per game and the wager of your bet when paying extra for the bullseye. For example, you might start simple and play just two numbers, which is more easier to get than if you were to select ten numbers. If you wagered $1 and paid an extra $1, to include the bullseye, your winnings would be $75.

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      • Many people will try to strategize and figure out a way to beat the system and win it all. However, in keno, your odds will always remain the same regardless of the number of games you play and the numbers you select.


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      How to Play Keno: Rules & Strategies (22)


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      About This Article

      How to Play Keno: Rules & Strategies (36)

      Co-authored by:

      Finn Kobler

      wikiHow Staff Writer

      This article was co-authored by wikiHow staff writer, Finn Kobler. Finn Kobler graduated from USC in 2022 with a BFA in Writing for Screen/Television. He is a two-time California State Champion and record holder in Original Prose/Poetry, a 2018 finalist for the Los Angeles Youth Poet Laureate, and he's written micro-budget films that have been screened in over 150 theaters nationwide. Growing up, Finn spent every summer helping his family's nonprofit arts program, Showdown Stage Company, empower people through accessible media. He hopes to continue that mission with his writing at wikiHow. This article has been viewed 678,025 times.

      25 votes - 75%

      Co-authors: 13

      Updated: June 18, 2024


      Categories: Featured Articles | Games of Chance

      Article SummaryX

      Keno is a fun, easy-to-play lottery game where you can win money if the numbers you choose come up in the drawing. To play, first you’ll need to fill out a Keno card. First mark how many numbers, or spots, you want to play. You can choose between 1 and 10 spots. Then, choose how much you want to bet—usually you can bet between $1 and $20. The more you bet, the more money you’ll win if your numbers are called. You’ll also need to mark how many games in a row you want to play. Your keno card will only be valid for the number of games you choose, and you’ll need to pay for each game. Next, fill in the numbers you want to choose between 1 and 80 on your card—make sure you fill in as many numbers as you marked down you’d be playing. Alternatively, you can fill in the “Quick Pick” spot to have the computer randomly pick numbers for you. Finally, decide whether you want to play with a bonus multiplier. Selecting the bonus multiplier costs extra, but there’s a chance that any prize you win will be multiplied by a randomly selected multiplier up to 10. Once you’ve filled out your Keno card, turn it in to a Keno worker. They’ll give you a new ticket with all of your numbers on it. Then, watch the Keno drawing to see if your numbers are drawn. The more numbers on your ticket that match the drawn numbers, the more money you’ll win. The different payouts may be listed on the back of your card. You can also ask a Keno worker for a prize chart. If your ticket is a winner, visit a Keno worker to collect your prize money! To find out how to play a way card and how to bet using combinations, keep reading!

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      How to Play Keno: Rules & Strategies (2024)


      What is the best strategy for keno? ›

      Keno Tips. Play between four and seven numbers to keep your chances of winning and the variance to a reasonable degree. Never play above 10 numbers if offered the chance. The chances of choosing and hitting 15 numbers is 1 in 428 billion while the chances of picking and hitting all 20 are 1 in 3.5 quintillion.

      What is the secret keno pattern? ›

      Keno draws are generated by random number generator (RNG) software, so the outcomes are entirely unpredictable. There are no secret keno patterns, and learning how to win at keno slot machines is impossible. That said, mathematicians have discovered that how many numbers you choose can make a difference.

      How many numbers do you need in keno to win? ›

      In video Keno, your payout will register automatically, and in live games you'll need to show your card to the game administrator. For example, you might pick five numbers in a game. In most cases, to win money, you'd need to hit on three of those numbers.

      How to outsmart keno? ›

      But here are our five top tips for Keno Strategy:
      1. Choose Casinos (and Games) With Better Payouts.
      2. Play For Free to Learn the Game.
      3. Understand that the numbers drawn are random.
      4. Choose Consecutive Numbers or The Cold Ones.
      5. Play at a Reliable Casino.
      Dec 11, 2023

      What are the 6 luckiest numbers in keno? ›

      For instance, the numbers 7, 17, and 22 have been known to hit the most often. Additionally, the numbers 3, 11, and 12 are part of the best 6 spot Keno numbers with a high probability of appearing.

      How to predict keno? ›

      It is important to note that Keno, like other lottery-style games, is designed to be random, and there is no guaranteed method to predict or influence the outcome of the draws. The numbers drawn are typically selected using random number generators or other randomization methods.

      What are the best odds on keno? ›

      The Bets with the Best Keno Odds
      Numbers selectedPercentage Chance to WinExpected RTP
      6 more rows
      Mar 19, 2024

      What are hot and cold numbers on keno? ›

      Hot numbers are the most frequently drawn numbers in the last 100 games. Cold numbers are the least frequently drawn numbers in the last 100 games.

      How do you know if you won Keno? ›

      Wait for the keno machine to determine the results.

      If you have a match, you win! How much money you win will depend on how many numbers you matched and how much you wagered. Most keno boards will display the payout for each number of spots matched. Your payout depends on the number of keno tickets in each game.

      What are the odds of hitting 10 numbers in Keno? ›

      What are the odds of getting ten numbers in keno? Your chances of hitting each of the ten selections you made are 1 in 8,911,712.

      How many spots do you pick in Keno? ›

      Choose from 1 to 10 numbers (called the "spot") out of a pool of 80 numbers. You may use a bet card or the Auto Pick feature. For a chance to increase your winnings, add Booster® for another $1 for each $1 wagered.

      What is the best probability in Keno? ›

      The Bets with the Best Keno Odds
      Numbers selectedPercentage Chance to WinExpected RTP
      6 more rows
      Mar 19, 2024

      Has anyone ever hit 10 numbers on Keno? ›

      A Washington state man matched all 10 spots on his Keno ticket last month to win $1 million, the Oregon Lottery said Monday. John Exley, 60, of North Bonneville, Washington, bought a ticket at the Oregon City Safeway just before Christmas.

      Is playing keno worth it? ›

      If you want good odds to win more than you wager, the best tip anyone can give you is to play almost any other casino game than Keno. The Keno game offers some of the worst odds in any casino, to the point that the game is virtually guaranteed to be, at best, a slow way to lose all of your money.

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