Representational image

Suman, a middle-aged man in Nagpur, the third largest city in the Indian state of Maharashtra, plugs his Samsung phone at 6:18 pm on a Tuesday and checks in with Lalit, his bookie, via Whatsapp. 6:20 pm, the closing time for the Kalyan Market, offers the final draw. Suman placed his bet of Rs. 5,000 (roughly $70 USD) on the closing number. Unfortunately, all proceeds went to Lalit. Suman’s flat fills with smoke from his hookah. 

Satta Matka is an underground gambling game that rewards in four-figure multiples times the wagers. Despite the losses, its’ hypnotic allure doesn’t dissuade the devout player from trying again. To the outside observer, the game is a perplexing maze of numbers and charts with no easy ins… or outs. Players often consult with numerologists and astrologers to help guide their bets. Numerology is often a staple of Satta cult followers, with some going as far as to change their name to improve their luck.

How it’s played:

The game consists of betting on three numbers (Between 0 and 9) that will wager against random computer-generated numbers generated at different hours and by other markets throughout India. This way, if the player cannot get enough of the thrill, they can move on to a different market.

The game is curated by private bookies that maintain the player’s funds in escrow and distribute the wins based on the randomly generated numbers of the player’s chosen markets. The results are then distributed via result syndicates. One such popular site is Kalyanchart.com which acts as a syndicate of the many Satta Matka markets that are currently online today and is one of the many sites referenced by the devout Sattaholics. Kalyan, Madhuri, and Milan are a few of the various Matka markets available for players, generating their independent draws at different times of the day. Private bookies further reference the results of these various markets to retain losses or distribute wins that are at times in multiples of nearly a thousand times a wager.

The Satta Matka subculture has been intertwined into the very fabric of the Asian Indian culture since its inception in the early 1900s. It is a game that often turns rags to riches and riches to rags. Its payout was in 4 figure grandiose multiples, and the losses were attributed to its’ hypnotic addiction.

The Origins of Satta Matka:

Before the days of randomly computer-generated integers, Satta Matka was founded on wagering against the fluctuating opening and closing costs of cotton commodities based on the New York market.

It all started with a migrant named Kalyanji Bhagat, who arrived in Bombay in 1941. As a spice seller and managing a grocery store, Bhagat grew restless and desperate for an alternative income. In the 1960s, when Bhagat was working in a produce shop in the city of Worli, he began the first primitive form of Satta Matka gambling by taking bets based on the opening and closing rates of the cotton market broadcasted from the New York market, all the way to Mumbai. Bhagat set up a guessing forum near his shop where people could come and try their luck at Satta Matka. Satta Matka quickly became a hotbed for gamblers in Mumbai.

In 1961, the New York Cotton Exchange stopped the practice of broadcasting to the areas that enabled traders to bet on the opening and closing rates of cotton. To keep the game going, A migrant from Karachi, Pakistan, Ratan Khatri, took over the reins of Satta Matka in Mumbai. Khatri introduced the concept of declaring closing rates by drawing chits from a pot; This is how Satta Matka got its name – the word Matka means an earthen pot. Eventually, the drawer used playing cards to generate the winning numbers. Khatri used to draw three cards, twice daily at 9.00 pm (the “open”) and midnight (the “close”). The bookie would total the value of the open and closed cards to arrive at a winning number. The numbers would be relayed across the betting hubs in the country and overseas.

The Satta Matka game peaked in the 1970s and 1980s, with Ratan Khatri running different Satta Matka games from his base in Mumbai. Satta Matka games were also being run in other parts of the country, with different bookies running them.

Ratan Khatri introduced the concept of declaring open and close rates via phone lines. Telephony created more transparency and increased the chances of winning for players, which led to its meteoric rise in popularity.

Phone Line Fiascos:

The bookies of these Matkas would have vast networks of people on telephone lines, liaising the opening rates, closing rates, and game winners across the country. Matka via telephony was a big issue in India then; if one were to attempt to call family or loved ones during open or close times of the Matka market, the efforts would be futile as players and bookies tied up the lines.

The Satta Matka game began to unravel in the early 1990s when phone lines started getting jammed due to the large number of calls from people trying to get the winning numbers. This created a lot of chaos and led to players losing out on their bets. The Satta Matka game came to a grinding halt in the mid-1990s when the police raided Ratan Khatri’s office and arrested him.

The Satta Matka game went underground after this, with bookies using different ways to communicate the winning numbers to their players. This continued till 2008, when the Satta Matka game came back to the surface with the introduction of online Satta Matka games.

The Resurgence of Satta Matka:

With the advancement of the internet, Satta Matka made a comeback in a big way. There are now numerous websites offering Satta Matka games, and the game has regained popularity.

The Satta Matka game is now played with private bookies via messaging apps such as WhatsApp or with players placing their bets on websites that offer the game. A random number generator generates the winning numbers, and players can choose to bet on the open, close, or both. 

What is Satta Matka Today?

The game has undergone some changes over the years, with new betting options and electronic draw machines instead of physical ones. However, the basic premise remains the same – players pick a number (or a set of numbers) and hope it will be drawn.

Today, Satta Matka continues to be played underground by millions of people every day. While Satta Matka may not be as popular as it once was, it remains an integral part of the Indian gambling subculture.

Today’s Controversial Private Bookies:

Private bookies run today’s majority of Satta Matka gameplay. These bookies are the ones who take the bets from the players. The bookies usually work in pairs, with one person acting as the “caller” and the other as the “writer .”The caller takes the bets from the players while the writer keeps track of all the chances and odds.

The bookies usually operate out of small shops or homes and use code words to communicate with each other… These bookies typically utilize the popular messaging platform Whatsapp or Facebook to receive bets and to collect banking information for depositing or withdrawing wins or losses. Bookies that are most trusted are typically the ones to succeed as their success lies with the integrity of the utilization of the personal information provided by the player.

The Satta Matka gambling game is not for the faint of heart. It is a game requiring steel nerves and a keen understanding of numbers. However, Satta Matka can be a gratifying experience for those willing to take the risk. With the right bookie, players can win large sums of money.

Nevertheless, Gambling addiction is commonplace in India, and many have lost their lives to the hypnotic game of numbers. Satta Matka is a game that has ruined many lives, but it is also a game that has created generations of wealth.

It is a game that continues to thrive in the shadows of society and shows no signs of slowing down.

David Zinger is a guest writer at EastMojo.

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1 Comment

  1. I Don’t know how they play this matka game, but I’m days ago one of my client give me a project related to kalyan chart and i have completed the project. Now It’s online.

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