The game of matka is not as simple as it seems. Though the cards are supposed to be drawn in the presence of patrons, it is seldom done. Operators are now known to use state-of-the-art statistical methods. The number which has minimum bets are often drawn, to bring a windfall of about Rs 10 crore to Rs 12 crore for the operators each day. A bet of Rs 10 could fetch around Rs 1,500 for the player. In most cases, a gambler tries multiple options to make easy money.
To understand more about the workings of the game, lets reference the game under Ratan Khatri, the original Matka kingpin's system - in which there would be two draws. The opening draw at 9pm and the closing draw at midnight. So, for example if the three drawn cards are the Ace of Spades, five of hearts and 9 of clubs. The opening number would be a sum of the three cards 1+5+9 = 15 The opening number would be 5 and the display on the walls of selected sites would show a "matka" or pot with the following legend
If 2, 3 and 4 was the next three cards drawn at 12 midnight,the final display a few minutes after mid night would be 159 5x9 234
Betting takes place or used to take place on all the numbers, i.e. 159 or 234 or 59 or even 5 or 9 or all of them. For a 25 paise bet the returns were Rs 2.25.
The bookies all across Mumbai operate on kind of franchise. If the betting is heavy on a particular number and the punters won, bookies are known to have disappeared overnight.
In essence, a punter makes a stake of INR 1 on the number 4 as ‘open’, INR 1 on the number 8 as ‘close’ and INR 1 on jodi (their combination) 4 8. At the end of the day if 4 is chosen as open he gets INR 9. Similarly, if 8 wins he gets another INR 8 and if 48 is declared he gets INR 90.
The punter passes the money over to the local sub-agent, who keeps a 5% commission on the amount. This sub-agent in turn passes over the money to the local bookie with details of bet amounts and numbers.
This money now passes up the chain of bookies called Khaiwals. Every evening, the number is called out. The satta or matka king pulls out three cards of a pack. The three cards add up to get the open number. The first card is pulled at 9 p.m. and is called the open card. The second and last numbers are decided at midnight. Sources say, the declared number information is transmitted via calls to every corner of the country and even outside the country within 30 minutes.
Pay outs are made the next morning. Typically in a week, five satta sessions are conducted. Mumbai is understood to be center of operations and the hub of Matka gambling.