bunch of lottery balls

What Numbers Hit The Most In Keno?

Keno is one of, if not the oldest, casino game out there and though it’s probably not as popular as, say, the slots or poker, it’s still plenty popular and has been a fixture, first in China than around the world, for at least 2000 words. Now that’s staying power!


What Keno Is

Keno, very simply, is a lottery game that is similar to the more familiar lottery game available from both national lotteries and casinos, but with some significant twists. Like “regular” lotto games, you pick a selection of numbers and the more that match the winning numbers drawn during the lottery draw itself, the more you can win. Unlike other forms of lotto tickets, though, players get to choose numbers between 1 and 80, but the really big twist here is that the player actually gets to choose how many numbers they want to draw – usually between 2 and 20 – and a whopping 20 winning numbers are drawn during the keno lottery. 

batch of lottery balls

Ease of Winning

This should make Keno one of the easiest gambling games – and, despite being legal in many places where other forms of gambling are outlawed, keno is a pure game of chance – what with the fact that one quarter of all available numbers are drawn with each keno lottery and you can choose up to 20 numbers.

Not so fast, as it turns out. The way it actually works is that the more numbers you choose, the more of them you need to match the winning numbers to win serious money. In other words, let’s compare two examples: 


  1. You select 8 numbers and 6 of them match the winning numbers.
  2. You select 20 numbers and 12 of them match the winning numbers


Logically, you might think that getting 12 numbers right should pay out a lot more than getting only six right. The exact payout varies from keno supplier to keno supplier, but regardless of the specifics, you will actually get very, very little money back for those 12 winning numbers than you will for the six numbers out of eight. 


How Many Numbers Should You Pick

Because of this, experts agree that the ideal number of numbers to draw is between 4 and 8. Less than that, and matching a full house will pay out just a pittance that probably won’t even cover what you spent on the ticket; more than that and you end up playing harder and harder odds for a payout that certainly doesn’t scale incrementally. 

Getting all twenty numbers to match has odds in the vicinity of 1 in a quintillion, which means not only is it virtually impossible, if you do actually hit that impossible number, you certainly don’t end up getting a payout of 1 to a quintillion – you will get barely even a fraction of a fraction of a fraction that. To get any real sort of payment from keno, you need to match the vast majority of the numbers you picked and once you start picking more than nine numbers, the less likely it is to match enough numbers.


Which Numbers Should You Pick

This question, frankly, is nonsensical from a purely statistical point of view. Each draw of each number has precisely the same odds every single time they are drawn. As such, say the number 27 comes up more often than any other number on a certain keno game (like the national lottery of Australia, for example), you might think that it’s a good idea to include 27 among the numbers you pick because it’s more likely to come up. Not so, as it happens. That 27 has as much chance of coming up in the next 10 games as it has of not coming up in the next 100.

Each keno draw has the same odds on every one of the 80 possible numbers picked and it functionally makes little difference whether a particular number came up 5 times in the last 10 or 5 times in the last 100. Each draw is a clean slate. So, statistically, it doesn’t make a difference if you pick the ten most common numbers in that keno game’s history or have it come up with 10 at random: your chances are exactly equal. 

That said, if you’re a big believer in fate or something like numerology, then there’s certainly no harm in playing your birthday or your anniversary or the six most powerful numbers in numerology or, yes, the ten most common numbers that come up.   

Just don’t be disappointed if all your carefully selected numbers don’t come up. They’re really not designed to.

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