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View Diary: Books So Bad They're Good: Joe Miller Meets George Hayduke (67 comments)

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  •  A question about the "numbers game" (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RiveroftheWest, MT Spaces, Ahianne

    Do you (or anyone? Billy Bing?) know exactly HOW the old "numbers" players got their winning number? I mean, nowadays, we have Yolanda Vega to hawk those ping-pong balls for us on TV, but in pre-legal-lottery times, how did it work?

    I think I recall reading once that the "numbers" players relied on the last three digits - virtually a random generation - of some published daily trading figure (Stock market?), but I'm not sure which.

    •  From that fount of all wisdom and knowledge (7+ / 0-)

      Aka Wikipedia:

      One of the problems of the early game was to find a way to draw a random number. Initially, winning numbers were set by the daily outcome of a random drawing of numbered balls, or by spinning a "policy wheel", at the headquarters of the local numbers ring. The daily outcomes were publicized by being posted after the draw at the headquarters, and were often "fixed". The existence of rigged games, used to cheat players and drive competitors out of business, later led to the use of the last three numbers in the published daily balance of the United States Treasury. The use of a central independently chosen number allowed for gamblers from a larger area to engage in the same game and it made larger wins possible. When the Treasury began rounding off the balance many bookies began to use the "mutuel" number. This consisted of the last dollar digit of the daily total handle of the Win, Place and Show bets at a local race track, read from top to bottom. For example, if the daily handle (takings at the racetrack) was:

          Win    $1004.25
          Place   $583.56
          Show     $27.61

      then the daily number was 437. By 1936, "The Bug" had spread to cities such as Atlanta where the winning number was determined by the last digit of that day's New York bond sales.

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