I came across an interesting theory not too long ago that suggested at certain paytable and a specific number of spots video keno is a better bet than video poker. I’ll present this theory as it was laid out to me but let me preface it by saying that personally I’m not buying. The math simply says otherwise.

One of the first things I learned as a neophyte gambler was that video poker–properly played–ranks among the best wagers in the casino. Depending on where you play and which games you play you’ll have a payback that is typically in excess of 98% and sometimes substantially so. You’ll have to abandon your tired video poker superstitions and learn the differences between the machines and the right way to play them. Once you reach some degree of mastery at a specific video poker machine you’re facing some of the most player friendly odds in the casino.

Based on my understanding of gambling math, video poker is a much better bet than video keno. Video keno is decidedly better than live keno which has a house edge of anywhere from 35% to 50%. One reason for this is that you can play much faster in video keno meaning that the ‘house’ can make as much or more money with a smaller hold percentage. In a competitive marketplace–online or in Southern Nevada for example–you can expect that most video keno machines you play will have a payback of around 92%. That makes it a tough sell that video keno is a better bet for the player than video poker. You might enjoy one more than the other, but the math underpinning the games appears to be conclusive.


Here’s the rationale that I was given to explain why video keno is a better bet than video poker. The source of this information is a longtime friend and a lifetime gambler and Las Vegas resident. I typically defer to his expertise and have generally learned a lot from this guy. Most of the video keno advise he gave is very sound such as make sure that you’re playing a game with the most favorable pay table. Another good bit of advice–understand going in that video keno will have greater volatility than video poker and thus you’ll need a bigger bankroll to attack the game at a specific denomination.

This is how it was explained to me–it’s pretty much common knowledge that the odds of hitting a royal flush on an individual video poker hand are approximately 1 in 40,000. Generally speaking, if you hit the royal flush with max coins in you’ll get a jackpot of 4000 to 1. On a quarter machine, you win $1000. On a dollar machine, you win $4000. That’s easy enough.

The trick is finding a keno machine with a 7000 coin payout for 7 for 7. This is getting more difficult but they’re not uncommon. The odds of hitting 7 for 7 are 1 in 40,979.31 or approximately the same as a royal flush. The difference according to him is that you can bet video keno for 1.00 per hand while in video poker you’ve got to bet 5 quarters on a quarter machine for the same payout. That means for a lower stake ($1.00) you’ll be paid $7000 if you hit 7 for 7 than a royal flush ($1.25) on a quarters machine which pays out $1000.

Of course a major difference between the games is that playing video poker you can turn a nice profit in a session without hitting a jackpot. Rack up a few 4 of a kinds or straight flushes and you’ll go home a winner. That’s where the higher ‘return percentage’ comes into play. If you’re only chasing a jackpot on either game you’ll obviously find a higher top prize on a game with a lower return percentage.