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Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Slick's Las Vegas Then & Now: 11th in Series

Keno and Slots
It seems the Chinese invented the game Keno around 200 BC. Keno is said to have financed building the Great Wall of China.

Like slots, Keno is a no-brainer. You buy a ticket and trust your luck. Don’t expect great odds because the house has expenses.

All the Las Vegas people I know play the same three numbers every day. Some play because they only risk one dollar per day, others because they like to dunk their Keno ticket in their coffee. (Go figure!?) Some are trying to make out with the cute Keno runner. Then there were people like Red Foxx who used to play 1 to 3 seven card poker with the Keno runner who brought hundreds of dollars in Keno tickets to him.

Foxx never hit it big at Keno, but one man did. A Mr. Harris won $100,000 in new Jersey on a Keno game. But officials found out he used a computer program to win and made him give the money back.

While playing Keno with my Chinese girlfriend one day she asked me, “Where do they get the numbers?”

I said, “Over there…the guy with the ping pong balls.”

She thought I was saying he had VD.

In the old days, casinos were a lot quieter because a few slot machines were added just to entertain the wives while their husbands played the table games. Eventually, slots became more and more popular. Now slots are the biggest money-maker in a casino and take up most of the casino’s floor space. They even have VIP slots at $25 a pull or more. But gone are the days when you heard coins hitting the hollow slot trays on a payout. Most casinos have done away with coins altogether, which have been replaced by slips of paper redeemable at the cashier.

When I was shift manager working on the grave yard shift, I watched full buckets of coins taken out of those machines, when some lucky person hit, and replaced with empty buckets. Every night it was a repeat. A lot of things have changed since then, but the house’s percentage is the same today as it always was. I’ll put it this way…if a casino claims it pays out up to 98%, it can mean there’s only one machine paying that percentage. Good luck trying to find it.

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