NJ Lottery Scratches Poker Scratch-Off Game Three Days After Launch

Jessica Welman August 28, 2017
NJ Lottery scratcher game
The rules of poker can be tricky.

In order to even play at a basic level, the first thing you need to know is what beats what. There are things like counterfeited two pair and flushes that depend on how high the third-highest card in your hand.

Apparently the rules are so tricky, they can even confound the New Jersey Lottery.

Lottery game has different rules than poker

It was none other than hand rankings that resulted in a major controversy for the Lottery. The state recently launched a new scratch-off game called High Card Poker. As the name indicates, it was based on Texas hold’em poker, the game you can play in many New Jersey casinos.

Problem is the scratch-off did not account for tie-breakers. In poker, if no one has a pair, the highest card wins. So if one player has an ace in their hand and their opponent has a king, the ace wins.

If both players have aces, the next-highest card in their hands determines the winner. So if someone has an ace with a queen, they beat the player with an ace and a jack.

Right after the game launched, Robert Chalet, a player familiar with high-card rules believed he won $150,000 with his ticket. According to NJ Lottery, though, he won $10.

Turns out that is not how the game works.

“As the game’s rules state, a player’s high card must be higher than any other card in hand without any pair in order to win the top-tier prize,” the lottery told NJ.com.

In other words, this game may look a lot like poker, but the rules are certainly not the same.

NJ pulls game three days after introducing it

While the NJ Lottery will not be awarding $150,000 to Chalet, it did realize this game is mighty confusing.

After several players in addition to Chalet complained that the rules are confusing, the Lottery decided the best decision would be to pull the game. It released an official statement on the matter:

“Given the inconsistency between the actual game rules and win scenarios and traditional poker rules, and in order to avoid any further player confusion based on this inconsistency, New Jersey Lottery discontinued the sale of the High Card Poker instant game on Aug. 10.”

The Lottery printed up 4.3 million scratch-off tickets for the game. Of those, right around 1 million were in circulation for three days before the decision came down. Now officials need every venue in the Garden State selling those tickets to send them back.

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