7 On Your Side: Scratch off face off between lottery and contestants on poker game

BLOOMFIELD, New Jersey (WABC) -- The first person Bill Masters told when he thought he scratched off a big winning poker hand was his Dad who works alongside him, at Brooklyn Pizza in Rahway.

Not far away in Bloomfield, Bob Chalet thought he hit the jackpot in the new High Card Poker game too, scratching off a huge purse.

"I thought I won $150,000," said Chalet. "It was an unbelievably happy feeling."

Both players believed they'd be cashing in for big bucks. But instead both got bupkus when they showed their hand in Trenton at the New Jersey Lottery Claims office.

"I think it's wrong they're quick to take the money from the people. But when it's time to pay they don't want to," said Chalet.

The $5 scratch off game is easy. You have eight hands to try and beat the dealer's. Both Bill and Bob's cards were similar. Both had 2, $5 winning hands with pairs easily beating the dealers hand, that had no pairs, straights or flushes.

"My five card hand beat the dealer's hand," said Bob.

But both Bob and Bill also had another similar hand, they say beat the dealers if you use common poker rules.

Bill and his dad, laid cards on the table to illustrate how he won. The dealer holds 4,6,7,10, queen. He scratched off "5,6,9," jack", queen."

When both players have no pairs or straights or flushes, the winner is determined by high card.

"Queen - 10 is this hand. Queen, jack is his hand. His (Bill's) hand wins," said Bill's dad.

The rules on the scratch off say "if any of your hands beats the dealers hand, win prize shown for that hand."

Bob says a lottery official even put a question mark on his claim form.

And when Bill went to his retailer to cash out, they issued him a tickets saying, "prize value exceeds retailer cashing limit."

Now both are lawyering up both wondering why each didn't win.

A rep for New Jersey's lottery told us the scratch off card was pulled 3 days after it was first sold. The reason was because the scratch off rules weren't consistent with the rules of traditional poker, which confused players. The lottery says a "handful" of players have complained saying they won - when the lottery says they didn't. So far nobody has won the 150,000 dollar grand prize. As for Bob and Bill - both say they're in the process of suing the lottery. We'll keep you posted.

Statement from New Jersey Lottery:

In Fiscal Year 2017, the New Jersey Lottery paid out more than $1.9 Billion in cash prizes to its valued players. Mr. Chalet's ticket is indeed a $10 winner. Unfortunately, he did not win the top-tier $150,000 prize from the High Card Poker instant game. High Card Poker's game win scenarios and rules are stated on the back of each ticket. 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 New Jersey Lottery has reviewed Mr. Chalet's ticket and based on the stated rules and win scenarios, it is not a $150,000 winning ticket. Under those scenarios and rules Mr. Chalet's ticket is a $10 winner.

The problem with the High Card Poker Game, and the reason that the New Jersey Lottery discontinued the sale of the tickets, is that the game win scenarios and rules on the back of the ticket are not entirely consistent with the rules of traditional poker, which is confusing to players. Shortly after High Card Poker's introduction on Aug. 7, a handful of players questioned their win scenarios. 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.

All winning tickets, as determined by the game win scenarios and rules on the back of the ticket, that are already in circulation will be honored. To date, more than 45,874 tickets have been claimed by players winning more than $621,670.

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