Casino Knowledge - History of Games


All About the History of Keno

  • Keno originated about 200 years B.C. in China out of an ancient poem known as "The Thousand Character Classic ".  Rather than numbers 1 through 80, the first eighty characters of "The Thousand Character Classic" were used in the body of the keno ticket. 

The "Thousand Character Classic" was used in China as the second primer for teaching reading and writing to children. By putting one thousand characters into a more or less coherent rhymed form, learning was presumably made easier and more interesting. It is something of a very great achievement in that no character is repeated. This poem was so well known in China that its one thousand characters, arranged in order, were often used as a fanciful way of notation or counting from one to a thousand.

There are many legendary stories about the origin of the poem. One story relates that the celebrated penman Wang Hi-Che wrote the thousand characters on a thousand separate pieces of paper. The Emperor Liang Wu Ti then directed Chou Hsing-Szu to arrange them in rhymed sentences to convey a meaning. This task was accomplished in a single night, but such was the mental effort that the compilers hair and beard were turned completely white before morning.

The poem is read from top to bottom and from right to left.

Sky (10) Earth (20) Mysteries (30) Yellow (40)
Universe (50) Infinite (60) Vast (70) Space (80)
Sun (9) Moon (19) Full (29) Declining (39)
Stars (49) Lunar (59) Arrange (69) Widely (79)
Cold (8) Come (18) Heat (28) Go (38)
Autumn (48) Harvest (58) Winter (68) Storage (78)
Intercalary (7) Surplus (17) Complete (27) Year (37)
Musical (47) Instrument (57) Harmonize (67) Nature (77)
Cloud (6) Ascend (16) Cause (26) Rain (36)
Dew (46) Frozen (56) Create (66) Frost (76)
Gold (5) Make (15) Beautiful (25) Water (35)
Jade (45) From (55) High (65) Mountain (75)
Sword (4) Label (14) High (24) Gate (34)
Pearl (44) Called (54) Night (64) Shine (74)
Fruit (3) Precious  Plum (13) Crab (23) Apple (33)
Vegetables (43) Important (53) Mustard (63) Ginger (73)
Sea (2) Salty River (12) Salt (22) Less (32)
Scales (42) Submerge (52) Feathers (62) Soar (72)
Dragon (1) Teacher (11) Fire (21) Emperor (31)
Bird (41) Official (51) Human (61) Sovereign (71)

While the use of these characters on a Keno ticket is merely to represent numbers, some Chinese people select the character marked for the word meaning. The words selected usually have a special meaning to them, pronounced the same as their name, or an event that has happened to them, or a recent dream.