The Numbers Game: Over 100 Years of Playing in America – From Organized Crime to State Coffers

The illegal profits were enormous and the mob had full control of what was called the Numbers Racket in America. Runners were employed to collect money and betting slips from the betting parlors (taverns, grocery stores, news stands, etc.)and bring them to the headquarters, known as a Policy Bank. This is where Organized Crime ran the business.

Bettors could wager as little as a penny on a 3 digit number for a chance at a 600 to 1 winning payout, although the true odds were 1,000 to 1.The winning number would be the last three digits of the amount of money wagered on race day at a major horse track in the U.S.

An accurate portrayal of the numbers racket activity was depicted in the 1949 movie, Force of Evil, staring John Garfield.

Numbers Become Legal

In 1967 the New York State Legislature became the first state in the nation to legalize playing the numbers. What was once called the lowest, meanest, worst form of gambling in New York, was now permissible to play at age 18.

Profits to the state from the games would benefit education and put more money in state coffers. To accomplish this the state would now operate and manage daily drawings. Innovative ways to play 3 and 4 digit games were introduced. The Numbers Racket quickly became the Daily Numbers Game. Organized crime eventually abandoned this venue.

Today playing the numbers is permissible in 47 jurisdictions. 44 states, District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.

Here is a description of two popular daily numbers games:

3 Digit Numbers Game

Drawings are held twice a day, mid-day and evening. Wager as little as fifty cents per game. Here’s how you can wager:

  • Straight – Assume your favorite number is 620. If the winning number was drawn in that order, you win $250 for a fifty cent bet, $500 for a dollar bet.Note that the government payout is 500/1. The mob payout was 600/1.
  • Box- wagering that the number would be drawn in any of the six possible combinations: 620, 062, 026, 206, 260, and 062. The payouts are $40 for fifty cents, and $80 for the dollar bet.
  • 50/50 – you can also make a straight/box wager for a dollar. The win amount is the same as a fifty cent bet.
  • Combo/Wheel – If your number has two like digits such as 332, wager a fifty cent or one dollar combo, AKA wheel, for $1.50 or $3.00 to win $250 or $500 for any of the three ways the number can be made: 332, 233, or 323.

4 Digit Numbers Game

Winning numbers are also drawn mid-day and evening. True odds for the straight win are 10,000/1. The state pays 5,000/1

  • Straight – Four unique numbers such as 1948 pays $2,500 for fifty cents, $5,000 for a dollar bet.
  • Box – four unique numbers has 24 possible combinations. a fifty cent box pays $100, a dollar box pays $200.

Other four number combinations with two or three like digits can be played for all possible combinations, four way, six way, or twelve way.

The reverse side of the betting tickets for the numbers games usually have a detailed description of how to play, and the payout amounts.

With long shot odds of 1,000/1 and 10/000/1, numbers wins are rare, but they can happen. If you choose to indulge, Good Luck!

Free Online Game Selection

Selecting an online game for your child is not always easy. Age group is a big factor in game selection. There are many sites that offer free games. By typing “free online games for [toddlers, teens, preteen]” into your favorite search engine you will find many sites that offer free games. Make sure to replace the brackets [] with your child’s age group. Most free game sites offer a wide selection. Most free game sites display ads to pay for the hosting and game creation.

Games selection by age group:

Toddler: This age group will be looking for colorful games full of sound and motion. For example you could find a game with a fury creature. This is a great way to teach your child how to use a computer and to learn.

Preteen: Children in this age group will have different interests based on age. Younger preteens, 8 or 9, are looking for light strategy with lots of colors and motion. Think of sonic the hedgehog as a good example of a colorful strategy game. Math games are great for this age group. As your preteen gets older they will be looking for more action and more challenging strategy. You will find your preteen playing less at games based on cartoons and more games based on movies. Racing games are good for this age group.

Teen: Teens are generally the targeted audience for game developers. Your teen may look for role playing games offering high degrees of strategy or may be looking to play war games. You will find less teens playing racing games.

Video Poker – Modern Technology Meets an Age Old Game

Video poker is a high-tech variant of the popular card game, only this time the player plays against a computer instead of against human players. The machine uses the five card draw poker variant.

Although the earliest video poker machines first appeared in the early 1970s, the game did not start to take off until the Draw Poker machines were introduced by SIRCOMA in 1979. Before long, many players began preferring to play with video poker machines rather than at poker tables and the machines soon began to rival the popularity of slot machines in casinos.

The game begins when a player inserts tokens or coins into the machine to place a bet. The machine then issues the player five cards. You can keep these cards or you can discard any number of your cards and draw new ones. After the draw, the machine evaluates your hand and delivers a pay-off based on a posted schedule.

Poker hands are as follows, in descending order: a royal flush, consisting of all three face cards and the ace and ten; a straight flush is five consecutive cards of the same suit; four of a kind is four cards with the same denominations (4 aces, for example, or 4 jacks); a full house is three of a kind plus one pair (two cards with the same denomination); a flush is any five cards with the same suit (does not have to be consecutive); a straight is five consecutive cards with different suits; three of a kind is three cards with the same denomination (three kings, for example) and a pair.

There are many variations of the basic game available, such as Aces and Faces in which you get high payouts if you have a combination with four aces or four face cards; Deuces Wild, in which the two acts as a wild card (a card that can substitute for any other card in the deck) and high payoffs are made on hands with four deuces or a natural royal flush; Double Joker, in which the two joker cards are used in forming combinations; and Double Double Bonus Poker in which a player has five additional hands, with the best payoffs being for hands with four aces combined with a two, three or four.

Video poker, like real-life poker, has an element of skill, as well as luck, that you can use to turn the game to your advantage. Here are a few tips. If you have face cards, hold on to them. If you have three of a kind, discard the other two cards since you may be able to get four of a kind. If you have two pair, discard the fifth card for a chance at a full house. And, if you have two suited high cards, discard the rest of your hand.