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How a famous classic keno ticket was manipulated by cheaters

May 03, 2011 6:00 AM by Keno Lil

This is the tale about how a famous classic keno ticket was manipulated by cheaters to steal a few dollars from keno games.

The 4-way-10, when played nowadays, is usually marked using 13 numbers, grouped 3-3-3-3-1. In this form it is a simple, playable ticket, easy to mark and to check for winners. In essence it is a 4-way-9, with an added king that works on all four ways to make 10. In this sense the king is a field of one. It is unusual to have a field smaller than the rest of the groups on a ticket, but not unheard of.

Some years ago the security at the keno game, (the measures taken to prevent cheating by players and employees) consisted mainly of a locked box similar to a mail box. It was made of glass or clear plastic and the tickets were dropped in before the call of the game.

The tickets were not photographed as in the 70s and 80s, or recorded electronically as they are today. In order to pay any large winners (at most games $50 or more) the box had to be unlocked and the inside ticket checked. Smaller winners were paid as a matter of efficiency according to the player’s copy of the ticket. This was the vulnerability that was exploited by cheaters.

Just imagine a cheater playing a 4-way-10, marked 3-3-3-3-1. He is careful to mark his ticket in a manner such that the final group of three cannot easily be circled; it is scattered around the ticket.

The cheater, having paid $1.20 for the ticket, hits 3-2-0-0-1, and thus wins a 6-out-of-10 for a winner of $6. The cheater, being one, is not satisfied with this catch. He goes outside to his car, where his trunk is splendidly equipped with a keno brush and a supply of Chinese ink.

He adds a winning spot to one of the groups of 3. He now has a catch of 4-2-0-0-1 on a ticket grouped 4-3-3-3-1. It is a mathematical quirk that a 4-3-3-3-1 is just as much a 4-way-10 as the 3-3-3-3-1. Seven-out-of-10 at 30¢ per way pays $45. The cheater collects his ill-gotten gains and hurries down the road.

A few days later the cheater is back, playing the same 3-3-3-3-1 4-way-10. This time he hits nothing, but never fear! He goes out to the car, and adds three winning spots to the final group of three, and hits another $45! It is also a mathematical quirk that a 6-3-3-3-1 is just as much a 4-way-10 as the 3-3-3-3-1 and the 4-3-3-3-1.

The next day he comes back, and although his luck is bad, his ingenuity is at an all time high! He hits nothing, but this time adds four winning spots to the final 3-spot on his ticket. Quirky, for sure, but a 7-3-3-3-1 is without question a 4-way-10! Our cheater pockets another $45.

Amazingly, this is not the end of the possible manipulations. To the original 3-3-3-3-1 the cheater could add three winning spots to one group of three and one winning spot to another group of three for a 4-way-10 composed 6-4-3-3-1.

The cheater could also add two winning spots to a group of three and add an entire group of two winning spots for a 4-way-10, 5-3-3-3-2-1! He might, if sufficiently bold, add three winning spots to one group of three, and another three spots to another group of three, producing the 4-way-10, 6-6-3-3-1!

He could even add three winning spots to a group of three, and three more spots to the king group, and come up with a 6-4-3-3-3 ticket, which is also a 4-way-10!

The 4-way-10 is quirky. It is open to more manipulation than any other ticket I have ever encountered. In fact, I have discovered 114 different ways to mark a 4-way-10 with 20 numbers or less. Of course, computerized keno has eliminated some of the chance that cheaters can work these kinds of scams at the keno game. But now you know some of the history.

Well, that’s it for now. Good luck! I’ll see you in line at KenoLil@Gmail.com

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