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  • Writer's pictureJeff Young

Casino Survival Tactics - Pt 1

Updated: Dec 14, 2023

There are several, of course. I’ll discuss just one angle for the moment.

My dad was a die-hard craps player, who insisted on being in possession of at least three “$300 banks” before he approached a dice table. He naturally preferred not having to reach too deeply into his stash if he could help it. The goal was to net a big win before he fully wagered even that first $300.

He had a system he referred to as “matchsticks in the rack” which he perfected – or tried to – in our home casino test lab. I never fully understood the system, but it had to do with a balanced opening on the first roll before a point was established. Sort of a “world bet” of his own design. (i.e.., 2-3-7-11-12) Variations thereof. He used matchsticks to count wins. The more matchsticks he piled up, the stronger he felt his system was. You had to be there. I was, and I still don’t quite get it. It was fun practicing, though. In real live play, he had about a 50/50 win-loss pattern.

Gambling is totally unpredictable. Sure, there are trends, and when you catch a good wave, you hope it lasts long enough for you make serious bank – or at least recoup your losses. A break-even is a win, especially for a regular player. Players always hope to win big, but the overriding goal is to live to play another day. If you don’t, you’re dead in the water until you can regenerate your bank.

I’m a seat-of-the-pants player. Nothing thrills me more than to start with next-to-nothing in my bank and then walk away with a fistful of dollars.

Where is the thrill in high rolling, losing repeatedly, but ultimately not being affected by it because your pockets are so deep? If I didn’t have a goal of starting low and finishing high, would I even care to play anymore?

I guess it’s the thrill of the risk, regardless of where you reside on the financial scale. I hope I’m fortunate enough to find out first-hand one of these days. If I never do, I’m still a happy, grateful person. I have a warm home, food in the pantry, a shower that works, and a toilet that flushes. Anything beyond that is icing on the cake.

Now to the main point of this story, which is how to survive, and maybe even thrive, starting with just crumbs.

In many casinos I am afforded the opportunity to bet just one nickel on straight video keno and win up to $500 with one press of the button.

Playing Four Card Keno quadruples my chances of winning at a minimum bet of 20 cents. That same 20 cent bet gives me many more chances to win on a penny Multi-card keno machine. Granted, only smaller jackpots are available when betting so little - but it’s something to help beef up my bank until I can get back on my feet.

By way of example, I have some favorite 7-spot patterns I like to play on nickel or dime Four Card Keno machines. But when I’m down to $5-10 in my play bank and really need to stretch my cash, I move to penny Multi-card Keno. With a wager of from between 7-20 cents a pop, I can play my favorite 7-spot in several different ways, increasing my chances of winning.

One of my standard 7-spot patterns on a 4 Card Keno machine will pay 7000 units when hit – that’s $350 on a nickel machine, $700 at the dime level and so on up the ladder. Here's just one example:

You can play any variation on the pattern above, but on a 4 Card Machine you're obviously limited to just 4 chances to hit a 7-spot. On a Multi-card machine, at the penny level, the same 20 cents wagered at the nickel level will afford you 16 more ways to win. Take a look:

I could stop there, as I’ve covered all the 7-Spots I want to on boards A through T. But I've decided to keep going, and play some interlocking 8-spots I’ve had success with on boards P-Q-R- S. That leaves just Board T remaining, which I can ignore, or play any numbers I want. Family birthdays, a quick pick, etc. If cash poor, limit your play to however many boards you can afford.

Play whatever you want on board T - or nothing at all

Of course, hitting 7 of 7 at the penny level only pays $70, or $140 if you double the wager, and so on up to whatever the limit is. BTW, to double your wager on a particular board, you’ll need to manually click the board you want to increase the bet on, then click “bet one.” If you click “bet one” from the main screen showing all 20 boards, it will place one bet on the next open board whether you want it or not.

Every casino is different. At one of my favorite places, my options are to play just 1, 2 or 3 cents on a Multi-card machine. At another, there are no Multi -card keno games below the nickel level. Look around to find what works for you.

Here is a recent 7-7 win I landed playing just 10 cents / boards on a Multi -card machine:

It's a comparatively small win, true, but it lets us move back to the nickel level to pursue bigger jackpots.

Play any variation on this theme that you want to. Choose your own pattern within boxes of numbers or whatever your imagination comes up with.

Thanks for reading.


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