VA Lottery’s New HiLo Digital Game Is Simplistically Elegant

Written By Dann Stupp on June 2, 2021 - Last Updated on March 27, 2024
Hi-Lo game

The Virginia Lottery recently unveiled HiLo, a new instant digital game with simple yet simplistically elegant gameplay.

Are the usual slot-like reels and blocks and towers not your cup of tea? Looking for something more straightforward? Something that requires a little more decision-making than simply hitting a “spin” or “play” button?

Then HiLo might be the game for you.

The online instant game comes down to a simple decision: Will the next number be higher or lower than the current number?

Of course, it’s a bit more involved than that. But in the simplicity is the genius.

HiLo is a throwback to “Card Sharks”

If you’re like me, you grew up in the 1980s and 1990s watching game-show reruns from the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s.

“High Rollers,” “Tic-Tac-Dough,” and “Press Your Luck” (don’t you dare call it “The Whammy Show”) were favorites. But for whatever reason, 10-year-old me was absolutely fascinated by “Card Sharks.”

The show is based on the card game “Acey Deucey,” aka “Red Dog” or “Yablon.” In its simplest form, players receive a card and then decide if the next one will be higher or lower. All face cards count as 10, and aces are worth 11.

In “Card Sharks,” host Jim Perry (and later, Bob Eubanks) would direct the action as two contestants played a variation of the game. In the TV version, players navigate playing boards in which they need to successfully predict consecutive cards.

I mean, just watch this clip, and tell me this isn’t edge-of-your-seat television. (And watch the vivacious Norma Brown absolutely obliterate the bonus round.)

The VA Lottery has taken the essence – the simplistic thrills – of the game and packaged it into an instant game. And you know what? Any fellow “Card Sharks” fans are sure to love it.

How to play Hi-Lo at VA Lottery

Like all Virginia Lottery instant games, players simply need to head to the VA Lottery website.

Once you fund your account, simply go to the “Instants” section. As you’ll see, the VA Lotto now has more than 30 digital games available.

Hi-Lo, meanwhile, can be played for as little as $1. The max wager is $50. The top prize available is $20 on the $1 game and $1,000 on a $50 play.

Once you receive a number (1 through 21), you have a decision to make:

  • Hi
  • Lo
  • Equal

Will the next card be higher? Choose the Hi option. Think it’ll be lower? Click on the Lo option. Think the number will be identical? Choose the Equal option – while also enjoying the biggest possible payout if you’re right.

Here’s where things get kind of interesting: The prize amounts fluctuate depending on the number in play.

Therefore, when it comes to the starting player number, there are really no good or bad ones. After all, with fluctuating payouts, the odds also change appropriately.

HiLo payout structure

Let’s say you start with the number 11. You have 10 numbers that are lower (1-10) and 10 that are higher (12-21).

Therefore, whether you choose Hi or Lo, your net profit on a $2 wager would be $1.60 if you guess correctly. If you correctly choose that the next number will be Equal, your profit would be $38.


Now, let’s say your starting number is 15. Instead of 10 numbers that are higher and 10 lower, you have six that are higher and 14 lower.

The payouts then shift appropriately. The Hi option now has a profit of $4.10, the Lo option pays 60 cents in profit, and Equal remains $38.

While playing the game, you can also click the “Prizes/Odds” toggle. You can see your potential payout, as well as the odds of the Hi, Lo, and Equal options.

If you’re still on the fence, you can play HiLo in demo mode to get a feel for the game. Be warned, though: Even the free version is likely to satisfy your inner retro game-show fan.

Photo by AP / Julie Jacobson
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Dann Stupp

Dann Stupp is a longtime sports journalist who’s written and edited for The Athletic, USA Today, ESPN, and other outlets. He lives in Lexington, Virginia.

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