The Guide on How to Play Keno – Basics, Rules, & Strategies to Win!

Learning how to play keno is relatively simple. This lottery-like gambling game is often available at modern casinos, online casino platforms, and even with some lottery retailers. Although the name “keno” has French or Latin roots, this game is said to originate from China. In fact, legend has it that the invention of this game saved an ancient city during war and its popularity raised funds that led to the construction of the Great Wall of China. 

Without further ado, let us take a look at where you can play online keno, the basics, game rules, and strategies of this legendary game!

5 Best Online Keno Sites for Malaysian Players

Ten188 Casino
/ 5.0
10 minutes
Payment Approval Time
Welcome Bonus
MYR 1188
AW8 Casino
/ 5.0
25-60 Minutes
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Welcome Bonus
MYR 800
BK8 Casino
/ 5.0
25-60 minutes
Payment Approval Time
Welcome Bonus
MYR 300
Dafabet Casino
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1-4 Days
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MYR 480
/ 5.0
10-30 minutes
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USD 1500

Why Is Keno So Popular?

Keno is a very popular game among gamblers for many reasons. One of the main reasons is that it is a game that requires only a small bet while offering the chance of winning millions. It is also easy  to learn to play as the rules and basics are relatively simple. 


Compared to other games, Keno also offers flexibility in terms of gameplay as players can choose games with different betting amounts, payouts, amount of numbers betted on, and more.

Keno Basics

Keno is a game of chance where players choose numbers from 1 to 80. Keno drawings include a random draw of 20 balls. Similar to lotto and bingo games, Keno is also a game based on random number generation. Players are compensated based on how many numbers on their ticket matches the winning Keno numbers. 

Keno Odds

The odds of winning for keno games depend on the casino or platform players choose. When choosing a keno game, pick one that has a lower house edge. Classic gambling venues like land based casinos normally have odds ranging between 20% to 30%. 

In Keno, the winning odds are determined by the chances your selections match the winning numbers. With online keno games, the return to player or RTP varies between 93% to 97%. Although the more you play, the more chances you have to win, note that a higher bet amount is equivalent to higher payouts. For this reason, remember to pace your bankroll and manage it responsibly. 

Keno Payouts

In Keno, your winnings will depend on the numbers drawn, the numbers played, type of game you choose, and the value of your bet. All payouts are generally based on a one unit bet and can go up to millions! 

Note that the payout varies depending on the platform you play on and is calculated based on the number of picks you made and how many matches (technically called catches) you have. 

Random Number Generator

Online Keno games, especially those by reputable sites are rigorously tested by third-party auditors to ensure the games are fair. These Keno games use random number generators which ensures that the winning numbers are picked randomly without bias or influence. 

Keno: Getting Started 

Before the game starts, players pick the numbers they want to bet on. Most operators will allow players to pick between 1 to 15 numbers. The virtual machine will then randomly draw 20 out of 80 numbers. In a casino, the winning numbers are drawn using a machine that puts out numbered balls. 

  • Select Numbers 

You start selecting the numbers by clicking or tapping on the numbers you want on the Keno card. Once it is marked, this is known as a “Keno Spot”.

  • Wait For the Draw

After selecting your numbers, wait for the draw to finish to determine how many numbers you match. Your winnings will be based on how many numbers you match. 

Image credit: freepik

Keno Bets & Betting Variations

In Keno, there are several betting variations including five major bet types in the game. By understanding the different bets available, players can make the most of their bankroll and increase their odds of winning.

  • Straight Bet – The simplest and commonest bet in Keno, straight bets allow players to place a bet on up to 15 numbers per game. 
  • Way Bet – With way bet, you get to select a group of numbers that you break into equal subgroups or ways. Since repeated numbers are not allowed, you can only pick numbers going one way only. 
  • Combination Bet – A combination bet or “combo ticket” lets you select groups of numbers played on one ticket. It can be a combination of straight numbers, way bets, and more. 
  • Split Bet – Depending on the online casino you are playing with, players may be allowed to make multiple sets of bets in the same round. The split bet is recommended if you want to bet on more than a set of numbers to increase your payout chances. 
  • King Ticket – In the king ticket, players choose one value or number known as the “King”. This value must then appear in all groups.
  • Jackpot Ticket – Keno jackpot prizes grow steadily until they are won. This means players who play a progressive game and hit the grand prize could walk away with a staggering sum after a single draw!

Land-based Keno Vs Online Keno – Which Is Better?

Keno games are available both at physical locations or online. However, online Keno has increased in popularity recently due to various advantages such as access to international Keno games, variability, and convenience. Here are some pros and cons for each:

Online KenoLand-based Keno
Higher payoutsBetter social experience
More varietyFeels more authentic
Lower house edgePlaying speed is possibly lower
Better promotions and deals 
Lower minimum bet 
Possibility of progressive jackpot 

Online Keno Variations

If you are interested in playing Keno online, there are several ways to do so with each offering their own pros and cons. 

Video Keno

Much more fast paced compared to other variations, video keno is similar to slot machines. Results are determined by a random number generator. Video keno has the advantage of offering various themes such as Cleopatra Keno, Caveman Keno, and more. 

These games come with its own twists like giving multipliers. Although video keno has a lower house edge in general, the fast paced game means that players tend to lose faster due to the higher number of hands per hour. 

Live Keno

Played in a Keno lounge but streamed in real time, live Keno offers the most authentic experience, similar to playing in a casino. In live casino Keno, you can make different bets on the same Keno card. A new round usually starts every 5 to 10 minutes.

Live Keno games have the advantage of live jackpots that can go up to millions. However, it is often more intimidating for newer players as they are unsure how to place their bets. 

Mobile Keno

Mobile Keno is increasingly popular as more people are spending time gaming on their mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. Most online casinos that offer Keno games now have apps that are compatible with both iOS and android devices. All that is required is a good internet connection! 

Best Strategies and Tips for Keno

Keno is essentially a luck based game where there is little you can do to affect the outcome of each round. However, there are some strategies and tips to improve your odds of winning.

Bankroll Management

Regardless of the game, bankroll management is crucial. This is especially true for keno as it is a fast paced game with a relatively high house edge. By setting an amount you would bet for each round and how long you play can help you pace your bets. In Keno, keep your bets small, logical, and according to the odds of winning.

Bonuses and Promotions

Online platforms have the advantage of having a wide variety of bonuses and promotions. These offers can easily double or triple your bankroll to increase the time you play and chances of winning. However, players should take note to read the fine print to see if the bonuses apply to Keno games! Some of the best promos to look out for include free credits and multipliers.

Special Feature Tickets

Some online platforms may offer special feature tickets with discounted wagers or higher payouts that can be used for specific bets or during specific draw times. A good example would be a top 40 or bottom 40 ticket where you get to bet on the entire top or bottom 40 numbers.

Bonus Features

Players who prefer video Keno should choose games that offer bonus features. Since the winning numbers are drawn randomly, the odds of video keno should not have worse odds than the standard game. Be sure to pick a video Keno game that offers a fair payout, free bonus spins, wild numbers, and other bonus features to add the extra element of fun to your game.

Shop for Payouts

A game of variable payouts, it is best to shop around for the highest prize amount you can obtain. Keno is a game that can have varying payout rates, even for the same game. Each operator can offer different betting minimums and payouts.

Progressive Keno Game

Easily one of the best features of Keno is the option of progressive games that give you the opportunity to win a huge jackpot. Although regular payouts can be quite hefty, progressive jackpot games offer the chance of winning millions!

Choose 4 to 8 Numbers

Although you can choose to bet on as many numbers as you like, having a smaller amount of numbers leads to higher payouts. Many experts advise that the best strategy for Keno is to choose between 4 to 8 numbers as it puts your likelihood of winning and having a good payout ratio to be at the best spot. Note that your ticket cost increases when you choose more numbers.

Four Card Keno

Betting on four cards is one of the most popular ways to play the game. This long term strategy can be adopted throughout any variant of the game. In this strategy, choose 6 to 7 numbers in a cluster with the aim of hitting the 6- or 7-spot for a big payout with a low bet.

Keno Vs Bingo: What is the Difference?

Many beginners to Keno find that there are many similarities to bingo. However, Keno has much more in common with online lottery games compared to bingo. In both games during drawings for winning numbers, players have both a number card which they have to keep track of their numbers.  

Players pick their numbersPlayers are issued a card or ticket with numbers
Requires more decision making and player participation Less participation required as players do not have choose their numbers 


Keno is a relatively simple game to learn how to play. Despite the game’s simplicity, the availability of different variations and themes make the game much more interesting and exciting, making it an excellent option for any gambler.


What is the best strategy for Keno?

The best Keno strategy is to adopt several of the tips mentioned above when playing. Ultimately, it comes down to choosing a good game with higher return to player (RTP) rates, payouts, and bonuses. By choosing a good game, you increase your odds of winning a higher amount of Keno winnings!

What numbers hit most in Keno?

There is no guarantee in betting on the hottest numbers in Keno as it is purely a game of chance where each number statistically has the same odds of being drawn as the winning number. However, based on popular belief, many players believe that the hottest numbers include 1, 2, 23, 34, and 72.

What is the best time of day to play Keno?

There is no best time of the day to play Keno as it is purely a game of chance where the winning numbers are drawn randomly either by machines or a random number generator.

What numbers do you need to get to win a Keno prize?

The amount of numbers you need to win a Keno prize depends on the game you play, how many numbers you choose, and the operator you choose to play with. For example, you may need 4 matching numbers in a 10-spot game.

What is the maximum number of tickets one can buy at a time?

There is no limit to the number of Keno tickets you can buy at a time. However, experts suggest keeping it at a manageable amount that you can keep track of.