The Massachusetts State Lottery says it will hold a huge simulated poker tournament in the TD Garden in April that will end up with people getting more than $15 million in prizes.
In the $10,000,000 Hold’Em Poker Tournament, slated for the evening of April 6, 560 “players,’” along with their guests, will go to the Garden.
The elaborate and unusual event, which officials said has not been tried by any other state, will be the grand finale of one of the Lottery’s instant ticket games.
Two cards will be preassigned to each player, officials said. Three more cards, which all the players will share, will be drawn in each of three rounds. Whoever has the best hand advances to the next round. Sixty-four people will win in the first elimination round, 12 of them will advance in the second, and four of them in the third.
Lottery officials said there will be no skill involved. Spokeswoman Beth Bresnahan said the Lottery has designed the drawing so there will be a set number of winners, though the Lottery does not know who will win what.
Still, for dramatic effect, in the second and third rounds, participants will sit at poker tables, as if they were playing.
The 560 have already won a $2,000 prize; the 64 who advance in the first round will receive $10,000; the 12 who advance in the second round win $50,000. In the final round, three people will win $1 million and one will win $10 million.
So how did people get picked to be part of the lucky 560?
The 560 are among those who played the Lottery’s long-running $10,000,000 Hold’Em Poker scratch ticket game. Instead of cash prizes, they won World Poker Tour merchandise packs and claimed them. That qualified them for a drawing to become a participant in the tournament. One in 123 of those who claimed the packs were selected, Bresnahan said.
The game ran for nearly 7 ½ years before reaching the sales target that triggered the end of the game – and the simulated tournament. Sales of the tickets exceeded $800 million, and the Lottery raised more than $97.8 million for Massachusetts cities and towns from the game, officials said.
Some of those who qualified for the tournament have died because the game has taken so long to conclude, but any winnings will be paid to their estates, said Bresnahan.
In addition to the big prizes, those who don’t make it to the final round will also be eligible for consolation prizes, she said. People will also get allowances for travel and for food during the event.
Bresnahan said the Lottery launched the game in 2005 when a poker craze was sweeping the nation.
“It really was fitting for the time. And we were capitalizing on the popularity of poker tournaments and hold’em tournaments,” she said.
“I think it will be a pretty spectacular event,” she said.