KUSA - Overwhelmingly in Colorado, people who play the lottery are "scratch game" players, 75-percent of them in fact.

And many of them are playing games with no top prizes left. There are 14 scratch games in the Colorado Lottery in which the top prizes are already gone, and 18 games with only one top prize left. All the games are still active.

Further, a lot of players are having trouble finding the "newer" games at retailers because savvy players are buying those tickets up. The lottery in some ways has become a victim of its own success.

9NEWS asked how players can maximize their chances of winning big in games, where there is incredible pressure due to popularity.

9NEWS learned that when a scratch game gets hot, big retailers like King Soopers, Safeway and others can run out of tickets. That's because individual players will walk in and buy entire rolls of the popular game.

"Often times they will go in and they will buy hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of tickets within that game," said lottery communication director Brooke Christopher.

And often, because of that pressure, all the top prizes will disappear early in a game.

"Sometimes it just happens. We put a game out in the market and for some reason, within the first month or month and a half, the top prizes are gone," said Christopher.

If those games are disappearing fast at your retailer, a good option is the big gold building on Colorado Blvd. at Exposition, lottery central in Denver. They have an office in the distinctive building at 720 Colorado Blvd., Suite 110A.

If you discover that your favorite retailer doesn't have your favorite game, you can try there. It's the Denver Regional Office of the Colorado Lottery, and they more than likely will have the game that you want to play.

The regional offices can run out of a certain game, but because they have "all" the games, you would at least be able to move to a good second choice, a newer game that also still has top prizes left. The lottery says, there is no reason to play a game that is already out of big prizes if you do a little homework.

"I think it's a practical strategy when you're playing scratch games," said Christopher. "We put that information out there and obviously its important."

You'll find all you need to know on the Colorado Lottery website. It will tell you which games still have big prizes. Simply select "scratch games", then select "prizes remaining" and you'll get 25 pages showing all the current active games, and a full accounting of games that still have instant top prizes as well as those that don't.

You don't have to play a scratch game that has no big money remaining. You can even call ahead to the office to see if they have a certain game you are looking for, and that will save you a trip. The number is 1-800-999-2959.

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