Jarred Johnson is one lucky guy. Although, honestly, “lucky” is a bit of an understatement.
Johnson recently won two mammoth jackpots on video keno, each worth more than $140,000.
That’s amazing in and of itself, but even more incredible is he won with the exact same numbers each time. On the same machine. The mind reels.
Johnson, a regular visitor to Las Vegas from Tennessee, says, “The whole silly keno thing started with Cosmo bartender Jeff Hernandez. I came to Vegas one weekend and busted out. I went downstairs to Jeff’s bar. He asked what I bet on and I told him. He said, ‘No, man, stop that. Keno is the game.’”
Hernandez, who usually works at Cosmo’s beloved Chandelier Bar (photo below), proceeded to point out a machine at the bar, and recommended Johnson play these numbers: 9, 18, 19, 20, 29.
Johnson took it under advisement and played the numbers later that day at Bellagio. Within 10 minutes, Johnson hit five numbers out of five with a max bet of $8 for a win of $600.
He headed back to Cosmo, kept playing the numbers and turned his $600 into $12,000. For anyone else, that would be a spectacular run, but Johnson wasn’t done yet.
Johnson says he’d never really had much interest in video keno until he talked to Hernandez, but he was up for some fun, so he started playing seven numbers (the more numbers you select, the bigger the potential payout).
His numbers: 8, 9, 10, 18, 19, 20, 29. All clustered in the upper right corner of the keno card.
At the $1 denomination on Four Card Keno, he was betting $20 a pop.
He went on a streak of hitting six out of seven numbers a dozen times.
Then, on Sep. 4, 2022, he hit a jackpot for $140,000.
Again, for most of us, this win would be the story of a lifetime, and Johnson was very pleased, of course.
But in Vegas, when is it ever really enough?
During his next visit, Johnson returned to his lucky bar (in the Cosmo sportsbook), to his lucky machine and played with his lucky numbers.
Remarkably, he hit another $140,000 jackpot on Oct. 12, 2022. Same machine. Same numbers. Or, as it’s called in Las Vegas, Wednesday.
Johnson has won and lost a lot of money gambling, but even he was shocked by his great luck.
A friend of Johnson’s, a lawyer and mathematician, mentioned the odds of winning seven of seven numbers in video keno are 1-in-40,891.
According to his friend, the odds of two jackpots with the same numbers is 1-in-1.6 million.
We can’t recall ever seeing a bigger hit (plural, really) on a non-progressive bartop video machine.
Because we know how you are (and you know how we are), we asked Johnson the sometimes awkward question of how much he tipped.
We’ve seen him in action at a craps table, and he’s a highly-regarded George (casino speak for generous tipper), and the crew at Cosmo wasn’t disappointed.
For each of his wins, Johnson tipped the bartenders $5,000. He tipped the slot attendants (the folks who pay the jackpot) $2,000.
One of the slot attendants said it was the most she’d ever been tipped for a big win.
The bartenders were thrilled, but there was a bit of a minor kerfuffle during one of the wins. We share it here because it’s an interesting issue we hadn’t considered much prior to hearing about this lucky streak.
These wins didn’t come quickly, so Johnson spent quite a bit of time playing before they hit. When he hit one of the jackpots, a bartender who had been serving him clocked out and stuck around (more than a half hour), confident the jackpot would be hit. Given Johnson’s reputation for being a good tipper, a win of $140,000 was likely to result in a hefty gratuity.
The brouhaha started when Johnson tipped, as the bartender who stuck around after his shift took the tip, apparently feeling he deserved it. He reportedly tipped out the crew on the clock about $500, and went on his way. His fellow bartenders weren’t thrilled. Apparently, a union rep even stopped by to inquire about the circumstances.
We’ve always wondered how all that works. The bartenders we’ve met pool their tips, and the tip is divided among those working at the time a tip is given. We didn’t dig too deep, and it would be bad form for staff to discuss such friction with guests or a blogger, anyway. Just raises some intriguing questions about casino culture and tipping.
Anyway, kerfuffle aside, Johnson’s lucky pair of $140,000 wins is now the stuff of Las Vegas legend.
We asked Johnson if he had any tips (the other kind) for those who might want to emulate his video keno success. His answer, “Listen to bartenders. If something works, don’t be afraid to bump the bet up.”
We’re a huge fan of both those pieces of advice! Bartenders often watch players and their bartop machines for hours. Their anecdotal wisdom has paid off often at our favorite places, and one bartender at Circa even refers to himself as our “partner.” Mostly when we hit a jackpot. Coincidence.
Bigtime congrats to Jarred Johnson for his life-affirming handpays.
He says he’ll seek out the machine again, and plans to play his lucky numbers, too. Given his bigger bankroll, he has thought about bumping up his wager to $80 a try, the jackpot would be six figures.
We’ve never tried video keno (it’s hard to shake the stigma of live keno being the worst game in a casino, that’s not the case with video keno), but whenever you visit a casino bar, any off-duty bartender or server or dealer you see will be playing it, and all have stories of big wins.
Given Jarred’s luck, we’re ready to give video keno a go.