How to play keno

Your guide to casino keno


colour-keno

What is keno?

Keno is a lottery-style game originating from China. Keno rules are very similar to games like Lotto. It involves picking numbers and hoping they match some of the numbers drawn at random.

Keno card explained

At the start of a keno game, you'll receive a card that displays the numbers 1 to 80. You use the keno card to mark or circle the numbers that you believe will appear during the draw. Traditionally, you can mark up to 10 numbers, though some online keno games will allow up to 15 or 20 numbers.


Three keno essentials

  • 1
    Keno has 80 numbers: In real casinos, a machine called a 'keno hopper' draws the numbered balls.
  • 2
    Players pick their numbers: Most games let you pick between 1 and 15 numbers, though this can differ per game.
  • 3
    Winning numbers: Your winnings will be based on the amount of numbers bet and how many of your numbers match the draw. 
Keno card explained

What is a keno spot?

The numbers picked by players are known as the spots. Traditionally, players mark these with ink or a crayon (like a bingo dabber). In video keno, and keno online, players select keno spots by clicking the mouse or by tapping on mobile.

A little confusingly, Spot Keno is also the name given to the classic, simple version of the game. It has no quirks like additional balls, multipliers, or combinations.

Step-by-step guide to keno

Learn how to play keno with our full and comprehensive guide below.

Keno card payout table
  • 1

    Select your keno card

    A keno card will typically show up to 80 numbers.

  • 2

    Choose your numbers

    Depending on the game, players select up to 10, 15, or 20 numbers before each keno draw takes place. An individual number is called a 'keno spot'.

  • 3

    Check the payout table

    In online keno, the payout table will appear once you've chosen your numbers. This shows how much you could win if you match certain numbers. The more matching keno numbers, the greater the payout. Many keno variants also reward matching zero numbers when players pick above a certain amount.

  • 4

    Choose your bet size

    You'll be able to decide if you want to play multiple games with the same selection of numbers. Plus, you can choose to multiply your bet size if your winning spots are selected.

  • 5

    The game begins

    Any drawn numbers will appear somewhere on the screen. You'll often be shown hot and cold keno numbers too – hot numbers have appeared recently, cold numbers have not.

  • 6

    Match a number

    The term 'catching a spot' is used if a number you've selected is drawn. The number of spots that you catch will determine how much you win.

Keno winning numbers

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How to pick keno numbers

Most players believe that choosing four to eight numbers is the best keno strategy. This range can give attractive payout odds and feels less risky than selecting one number alone. The more numbers you pick, the higher your chance of matching a winner is. But just remember, the payout multiplier will decrease as your amount of numbers increases.

When it comes to choosing numbers, you have two choices for how to play keno:

  • Choose each individual number manually
  • Opt for a random automated selection of numbers

How to play keno: Manual picks

How to play keno: Automatic picks

Playing online keno vs offline keno

You can play keno at either a land-based or online casino. Most of the best mobile casinos will offer a range of keno draws for you to join. Below we've compared the key benefits and disadvantages of each.

Online keno

Play at a pace that suits you

Higher payouts available

House edge of the game remains high

Easier to burn through your bankroll

Possibility of playing with a progressive jackpot

Offline keno

Interesting variants widely available

Speed of the game is much slower

Casino freebies and perks may be offered

Need to know keno rules and etiquette

Enjoy a social experience in the casino environment

Online keno Offline keno

Play at a pace that suits you

Interesting variants widely available

Higher payouts available

Speed of the game is much slower

House edge of the game remains high

Casino freebies and perks may be offered

Easier to burn through your bankroll

Need to know keno rules and etiquette

Possibility of playing with a progressive jackpot

Enjoy a social experience in the casino environment


How the keno draw works

All players select a range of numbers from 1-80. Then, up to 20 numbers are drawn at random. Some variants will draw fewer numbers depending on the game. For online keno, a random number generator (RNG) is used to pick the numbers. For offline keno, a ball machine or similar might be used.

Here’s what to expect before, during, and after the draw for online keno:

  • 1

    Choose your numbers

    Players choose their numbers and how much they want to bet.

  • 2

    Add any side bets

    Some games offer side bets like multipliers to boost your winnings. At this stage, players can click the option to play any multiplier or other side bet available.

  • 3

    Draw numbers

    The draw begins. The player’s selected numbers start to appear on the screen.

  • 4

    Collect your winnings

    This depends on how many matches a player gets.

  • 5

    Play again

    Players can repeat the process by using the same set of numbers, selecting a new set of numbers, or allowing the game to pick numbers at random.

Understanding different keno bets

Keno bet type Definition
Straight bets
The simplest and most common type of keno bet. Depending on the game, players bet on up to 20 numbers in a single game.
Way bets
Players select a group of numbers, then break these down into equal subgroups, or ‘ways’. Each number must appear in one way only, no repeated numbers are allowed.
Split bets
Players can bet on more than one set of numbers, each treated separately, during a single game.
Combination ticket
This bet, also known as a ‘combo bet’, sees players select groups of numbers which are played together on one ticket. The groups may be a combination of straight and way bets for example.
King ticket
Similar to a split bet, but players choose a single number – the King – that must appear in all their groups.

What is the difference between keno and bingo?

In keno, players can choose specific numbers to wager on. In Bingo, players are given a card with a random selection of numbers. You don't 'place bets' in Bingo either, whereas in keno you need to choose your numbers, and sets, and consider the odds of the game.

Although the games are similar in their number card and the draw, keno involves more player participation and decision-making. Players new to keno often assume that it’s very similar to bingo. In fact, keno strategy has a lot more in common with picking lottery numbers than bingo. Bingo and keno are almost opposite to each other.

Bingo

Bingo

Players are issued a ticket with numbers on it. During the draw, they dab any of their numbers that appear in the hopes of creating a winning card.

Keno

Keno

Players pick numbers for themselves. As in bingo, it’s then their responsibility to keep track of which of their numbers are drawn.

Start playing keno online today

Now you’ve read our expert guide to playing keno, are you ready to start winning with the best keno numbers for you? Your lucky numbers might be related to special occasions, or based on keno numbers that hit the most. Either way, you're now prepared with the keno skills you need to play at a top casino! Our experts have shortlisted 2022's best real money online casinos, with top online casino bonuses.

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How to play keno FAQs

How do you play keno and win?

The more numbers you match in real money keno, the more cash you stand to win. Payouts vary hugely depending on your game type and bet types. Don't chase your losses though – it's the luck of the draw. Learn more with our how to play keno guide.

What are the odds of winning keno?

In a standard 80 ball game with 20 balls, you have a 1 in 4 chance of one number being drawn. Keno odds and payouts differ depending on how many numbers you pick. Head to our guide on how to play keno to learn more.

How many numbers do you need to bet on to play keno?

Many players believe four to eight numbers is the best keno strategy. Each keno game varies, but you can typically choose up to 10, 15, or 20 numbers. Aside from numbers, there may also be minimum betting amounts, depending on the casino.

Can you play keno online on your phone?

Yes, you can play keno on many mobile devices and tablets. Not every online casino offers mobile keno, but plenty do. Many casino sites and apps offer innovative ways to easily pick your keno numbers.

What are the best keno number combinations?

Keno draws are all down to luck, there's no strategy behind winning number combinations. Every number between 1 and 80 is statistically as likely to appear as any other. That said, some players like to follow 'hot numbers' to see which picks have appeared the most.

What is the best keno strategy?

There's no keno strategy that can guarantee a win. Some players believe the key to success is picking between four and eight numbers. However, a keno draw is completely random and can never be predicted.

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Alexander Korsager

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General Manager

Alexander Korsager has been immersed in online casinos and iGaming for over 10 years, making him a dynamic General Manager at Casino.org. He uses his vast knowledge of the industry to create content across key global markets.