"High Card Poker" rules were confusing
By Todd Northrop
The New Jersey Lottery pulled its latest instant scratch-off game from retailers' shelves after players became confused by the game's rules.
High Card Poker (Game #01436) went on sale Aug. 7, and was canceled three days later on Aug. 10. In a statement, the NJ Lottery said the cancellation was "due to the potential for players to misunderstand the game's win scenarios as stated on the back of tickets."
Despite the game being voided, all winning tickets already in circulation will be honored, according to the lottery. Retailers may continue to validate tickets they have sold and should follow normal cashing procedures for prizes less than $600 and assist players with claims over $600 in submitting their claim form to the Lottery.
As reported by NJ.com, a controversy arose when a man who would have won $150,000 if the game followed traditional poker rules had to settle for a $10 prize because the High Stakes Poker rules don't break ties, according to the game's rules.
Bloomfield resident Robert Chalet purchased a $5 ticket that when scratched off showed a hand of 5-6-9-J-Q. The "dealer" had a hand of 4-6-7-10-Q.
In a standard game of poker, Chalet would win the hand because his second-highest card, the jack, would top the dealer's 10. On the scratch-off ticket the prize for that hand was $150,000.
Instead Chalet won $10 with another "hand" he won on the card.
According to the win scenarios and rules stated on the back of each ticket, "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."
Since Chalet and the dealer each had a high card of a queen, he didn't win the top-tier prize.
When "a handful" of players similarly questioned their win scenarios, the lottery decided to pull the plug.
Lottery officials said 4,368,360 tickets were printed for the game, with about 1 million having been distributed since the game launched on Aug. 7.
The game's top prizes included three $150,000 prizes and 60 $2,500 prizes, none of which had been sold in the three days of availability. Lottery officials said 54 of the game's 880 $500 prizes had been claimed.
Other prizes in the game ranged from $5 to $100.