Keno is a straightforward and fast-paced numbers game that borrows some of its elements from bingo. It is an exciting game that is adored by many, but it could also be intimidating to some especially to new players. If you are thinking of playing this game for the first time, here’s a quick guide that will explain to you its mechanics. 


Keno has such an interesting history for its name has French roots—it comes from “quine” which means “five winning numbers”—but the game itself originated in China. According to several sources, keno was brought to the United States by Chinese immigrants in the late 1800s. Its original form featured 80 Chinese characters that were eventually replaced by Arabic numerals when the game started to spread in the U.S.

The original keno is different from the one that is available today. It used to be accompanied by a racehorse, and so it was then referred to as “racehorse keno” for a time in Nevada. In 1951, the racehorse aspect of the game was removed due to the tax imposed on off-track betting on horses. 

With the elimination of racehorse, keno thrived on its own. It has become available at many casinos, bars, and restaurants because of its convenience. Nevertheless, its original form is seemingly not forgotten since many operators still call the game a “race” if players bet on more than one session of the game at once. 


Much like bingo, keno involves the use of a card that  typically contains a list of numbers from 1 to 80. There are different versions of this card depending on the casino you are playing at. Some have special bonus or jackpot on top of regular cards. Anyhow, the regular card displays the numbers in 8 rows and 10 columns. Any number you choose to bet on is called a keno spot. 

In keno, players get to choose 1 to 10 numbers per game. Some casinos increase the limit to 20. As a player, you need to state up front how many numbers you are playing for. But you need to know that the cost of the card or ticket you are getting will depend on how many numbers you are allowed to choose. 

There is an option to bet on the same number or set of numbers for several rounds of the game. However, you will be asked to pay for each round. So for instance you are betting $1 on your selected number and you want to bet on the same set for 7 rounds, you will have to pay $7.

Once you have selected your numbers, it’s time for you to pay attention to the numbers that will be announced or shown on the screen of the casino. The keno machine randomly selects balls that contain the winning numbers on them. All you need to do next is to check if the numbers you chose match the ones that were pulled by the machine. 

Types of Bets

Straight ticket – This is the simplest type of bet you can make in keno. This pertains to betting the numbers marked as a single wager. Hence, it is the simplest type of bet you can use to play in the game. 

Way ticket – This is a term that refers to an act of betting on two or more combinations of numbers in a single ticket. For instance, you may mark six numbers and group them into two groups of three. Once you are done selecting the numbers, you need to mark the side of your ticket “2/3, 1/6.” This means you are wagering on each of the two groups or three-spot combinations on top of the six-spot combination. 

King ticket – This is choosing a single number to be the king. You get to assign a number to be the king by encircling it by itself. You can use the king to secure winnings on more combinations. For example, you can choose seven numbers and encircle one to be the king. You then mark your ticket “2/4, 1/7” to signify that you are wagering on two four-number combinations because the king is counted as the digit that is a member of each group. In addition, you are wagering on the overall seven-number combination.

Combination ticket – This pertains to betting on several groups of numbers or combinations. You can wager on two-, three-, and four-number combinations and mix any of them in a ticket. For example, you can wager on two- and four-number groupings and mark it 1/6. Or, you can bet on three three-number groupings and mark it 1/9.

Why Play Keno?

There are a lot of entertaining games at the casino, but not all of them are as fast-paced as keno. Each round occurs in a span of few minutes, so the fun does not stop. You can enjoy as many rounds as you want. And there’s a big chance that you can win in this game because there are always winners per session of the game. 

Another advantage of playing keno is the wager. Not all casino games accept very minimal bets. In keno, you can play the game by wagering as little as $1 on a single bet. You can adjust the amount you are betting depending on the total numbers you are playing for. 

The winnings at keno are typically big for the amount you wager in the game. Like if you are playing on a combination of 10 digits and if you got them all right, you can win as much as $100,000 on just a single round. If you are lucky, you can also win big when you play keno that offers progressive jackpots.