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The most frequent winning keno numbers at any given time are referred to as “hot numbers”. Keno experts often tell their students they should try to locate these hot numbers and bet them while they’re still hot.
Finding the most drawn numbers at any given time has become a kind of Holy Grail for many keno gamblers. The idea that you can find a set of magical numbers which provide you a better chance of winning is irresistible to many gamblers. The reality is sometimes different than what’s advertised, so in this article, we want to provide a perspective on the continuous search for the best keno numbers.
Basics of Keno
Games of keno work like the lottery, except with a much bigger grid of numbers than what lotto players are used to. In most games, the number options range between 1 and 80. Players have the option of selecting up to 20 different numbers. When the draw happens, the more of your numbers that are selected, the bigger your payout.
Don’t expect to see all 20 of your numbers picked, though. The odds of that happening are 1 in 3.5 quintillion (give or take a few quadrillions). Payouts usually end at 15 numbers, because the odds are so astronomical beyond that point that game designers generally don’t even bother. Getting 14 numbers is a 1 in 390 million chance–you’d have twice as good of a chance to win the Powerball Lottery.
Keno has almost twice the number of winning options as a standard lotto draw. Getting 6 to 10 numbers is more realistic, and this is when the payouts start to get interesting.
What Are Keno Spots and Catches?
“Spot” is the term used to describe a number in keno. When you mark your card with the numbers you want, you make a spot to indicate the number you want, which is why they’re called spots. “Catch” is the term for winning numbers in keno. If you have 12 spots and 8 catches, this means you bought 12 numbers and 8 of them were picked in the keno draw. (You can find more keno terms and their definitions here.)
The Most Drawn Numbers in Keno
Data exists online which records the most drawn numbers in any given keno draw. Some contests offer better statistics than others, so we’ve decided to use a particular state lottery in the United States as an example. We want to illustrate a few things about the frequency of numbers in lottery or keno draws.
This particular game has stats for the last 9 draws, along with the last 80, 160, 400, and 1966 (the total number in its history). When you look at the last nine draws, you’ll find that the #74 has been drawn 9 times, while the numbers 13 and 65 each have been drawn 8 times. Meanwhile, the numbers 4, 8, 9, 10, 18, 21, 22, 31, 40, 42, 49, 56, 57, 59, 61, 68, 69, 70, 72, 76, and 77 haven’t won even once.
The 13, 65, and 74 are the hottest spots in this particular keno game right now. This is interesting, because two of the three are traditional underachievers in this particular game. With 1966 draws in the series, you’d expect that each number would have been chosen 541 times. The 13 has only been chosen 504 times, which is one of the lowest sums of them all. The 65 is a relatively strong number, with 556 selections in the history of the game. The 74 is just below average, with 539 selections.
Cold and Late Numbers
Now let’s take a look at the spots which haven’t been selected in the last number of draws. That list of numbers would be described as cold, late, or due, “Late” means it should have been picked by now, but it hasn’t been. “Cold” suggests some pattern where the number isn’t turning up for some reason. “Due” suggests that, according to the law of averages, those numbers should be ready to hit sometime soon.
Historically, about half of these numbers are considered poor performers, while the other half are considered overachievers.
Staring into the Abyss
So what does all of this information tell us? Not much, because you’re staring at random patterns on your computer screen. Taking any 10 draws during this time would provide a similar sample. The difference in this data and some kind of scientific statistics (or even sports stats) is you can’t really find a significant pattern in these. Every one of these draws used randomization to come up with its winning spots. Each one was a single random event, separate from all other draws in the series.
No cause and effect can be detected here. In sports, you might say, “Lebron James is better driving to his right than his left. In his last nine games, he’s played teams which force him to his left more often, which explains why he’s averaging 5 points per game less than his season average.” Looking at the last nine draws, you can’t explain why the 74 came up 9 times. The data you have isn’t predictive.
Sound and Fury, Signifying Nothing
Here’s the truth about keno draws: each one is a random occurrence. Some group of 20 numbers is going to win. Once the results are known, people want to look at the outcome and say, “Of course, the 79 was going to be picked again. It makes perfect sense.”
That 79 had no better or worse chance of hitting this time than last time. The 79 has no better or worse chance of hitting next time than any other number in the sequence.
The human brain is built to see patterns whether those patterns exist or not. When we existed as hunter/gatherers, those humans whose brains (and eyes) saw patterns in the foliage survived better than those which didn’t. If you thought you saw a tiger in the underbrush and were wrong, then no big deal. If your brain didn’t perceive a tiger’s pattern in the leaves and you were wrong, then you were dead.
So human beings are built to make sense of the world around us, to bring a sense of order to the chaos surrounding us, but sometimes we’re just wrong. That’s what happens when you try to find some pattern in the random results of keno draws. What a famous writer once said about life, we’ll say about keno: it’s full of sound and fury, but signifying nothing.