How to play keno: origin, strategy and winnings


Besides slot machines, there is no easier game to play in an online casino than keno.

It’s basically a small lottery with frequent daily draws, sometimes every few minutes. Players pick numbers that hopefully match the numbers drawn. Winnings vary greatly depending on the number of matching numbers and the total amount wagered on each draw.

Anyone who likes to play big lotteries will love keno. You might not win a million dollar jackpot, but you can still score well against your investment.

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People who play government-run lotteries and keno will likely say they have won more from keno. And you never have to wait for the weekend for the draw. Best of all, no one has ever had to think or bring their A-game to play keno.


The history behind keno is fascinating and vast. Over 2,000 years ago, keno originated in China under another name. It was called « baige piao », which refers to tickets in a betting game involving carrier pigeons.

As bettors played keno across China, government officials took a cut to look the other way. For centuries, the game consisted of filling out a ticket with the first 80 characters of the 1,000 Chinese ideograms listed in The Book of a Thousand Characters.

Chinese immigrants brought the baige piao to the United States in the 1840s. Numbers replaced characters in the early 20th century iteration known as the Chinese lottery. Finally, the name keno – a variation of the French word who does not, meaning group of five – took root.

Baige piao also inspired modern bingo and lotteries. Keno is popular in casinos around the world and is perfect for playing online.

How to Play Keno

Playing keno is as simple as choosing a set of numbers between 1 and 80. Bettors enter their numbers on a computerized keno card, along with their bet amount. You can play for as little as $1 and win hundreds of dollars – sometimes much more – depending on how many numbers you hit.

A typical keno card has a grid of eight rows, each with 10 numbers on it. Simply select your numbers, set your bet amount and wait for the draw. A computer randomly generates 20 winning numbers, unlike physical casinos, where the balls are drawn from a receptacle.

You can play more cards to cover more numbers and increase your chances of success.

As for the choice of numbers, the possible combinations are endless. Some bettors look at birthdays, famous historical dates, or any other number that comes to mind.

Some people play the same numbers over and over, knowing that sooner or later at least some of them will hit. You can also use a quick pick option, where the computer picks the numbers for you.

Payment table

At the start of each draw, a paytable will show approximate winnings based on the total amount wagered by all players. Winnings are determined by the number of correctly chosen numbers, as well as the percentage of numbers you hit.

If you chose six numbers and hit five, for example, the return could be 500 times your bet amount. But if you picked 12 and hit three, the payout might just be 3 to 1.

Remember that the higher the percentage of correct numbers, the bigger the payout.

is a Toronto-based freelance writer who writes casino content for NorthStar Bets. NorthStar Bets is owned by NordStar Capital, which also owns Torstar, Star’s parent company.

Disclaimer This content has been produced in partnership and therefore may not meet the standards of impartial or independent journalism.


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