IN THE POCKET: Q-J offsuit
We were third on the waiting list to enter this six-table tournament. We split one pot with an A-2 straight after sitting down, and now have these cards sitting one off the button. We call, and no one raises. About four players are in.
ON THE FLOP: Js-8s-8c
Two pair and a strong kicker look good to us. The play checks to us, and we bet 200 to take the pulse of the table. Only a man at the opposite end of the table calls. We doubt he has a third 8 - maybe a Jack of his own.
ON THE TURN: Jc
Ahhhhh - now this looks very good! We have a superior full house. But how much can we gain from it? Our opponent checks, and we smooth-check in response (if there is such as thing).
ON THE RIVER: As
Now three spades are showing. No big deal for us - but maybe for him. Our opponent makes a modest bet of 100. Nope, not enough. (In fact, the tournament rules say we have to raise with best hand at this point.) So we bump it up to 400.
"I have to call," the man says - and flips over K-Q of spades. Sure enough, he went fishing and caught the nut flush. Trouble is....
"I have a full house," we declare. That wins us a nice pot, and a "nice hand" compliment from the man we beat. Of course, that leaves open the question: could we have bet more and kept him in?
We had ups and downs in the first period, reaching a high of 4,050 but reaching the break at only 2,325. Then a comeback came for us in period two - as pocket Kings came twice, and we won healthy pots with both of them. Our stack hit a high of 5,400.
But moderate risk-taking with rising blinds proved costly for us. We finally had to go all-in with A-J and 1,100 left. Another player paired the board with a Queen, and sent us out the door in 36th place out of 83 players - up 11 places from last time, but still far from the final table.
"Just put it in the barrel," a man suggested. But we noted the fine print - that the casino didn't even roll out the barrel for tossing in your entry until 6:00 p.m. At this moment, it was about 1:25 p.m.
"Besides," we added, "you have to 'be present to win.' And I don't plan to be here at 9:00 p.m."
"Can't you come back at 9:00?" a man asked. Yes, physically, we could. But...
"I plan to be at home keeping the Sabbath."
"The what?" the dealer asked. We had to spell the word for him: S-A-B-B-A-T-H. He'd never heard of it. But another player had.
"Are you a Seventh-Day Adventist?"
"The Sabbath starts on Friday night at sunset, right?"
"And it ends on Saturday? At sunset?"
That's correct. The Sabbath goes back a long way....
Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the Sabbath day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God... - Exodus 20:8, 9
The concept of keeping a Sabbath actually has its origin in creation, when God rested from His work on the seventh day (Genesis 2:2-3). We consider it a time for rest, Bible study and worship - not standing in a casino, hoping for a slip of paper to be drawn so we can win money.
"If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath and from doing as your please on my holy day.... and if you honor it by not going your own way and not doing as you please or speaking idle words, then you will find your joy in the Lord, and I will cause you to ride on the heights of the land...." - Isaiah 58:13-14
If that sounds like a nice change of pace, we attend a small Sabbath-keeping church denomination. In fact, there's a location in the town where the dealer lives. We invite you to find a location near you, and give Sabbath worship a try.
UPDATED POKER SCOREBOARD: 182 final tables in 497 games (36.6%) - 36 cashes.