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Buffalo man wins $1 million playing poker scratch-off game

When James Helminiak of Buffalo first scratched off his winning lottery ticket, he thought something had to be wrong.

Instead, everything was just fine – to the tune of $1 million.

Helminiak, 52, was introduced Friday as the New York Lottery's latest local big winner. He won the top prize on the New York Poker ticket, which Helminiak has played since 2005.

Helminiak's three of a kind beat the champion's pair of kings for the "jackpot" prize.

Helminiak bought his ticket Oct. 11 at the Corner Market, 2323 Broadway. He had to keep the ticket all weekend until the Lottery offices opened Monday. "It was the longest weekend of my life," he said.

Helminiak opted to receive his prize as a one-time, lump-sum payment, netting him $536,058 after withholdings. He said he plans to buy new vehicles for his family and to fix up his house.

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