IN THE POCKET: 4-5 of spades
We've taken one pot at this table of six men (the manager started the game, then pulled out to make breakfast for everyone else). But we're looking for something to break through and get above the starting level of 42,000 chips. Right now we're at about 35,000. And we're in the Big Blind - but no one raises, so it's simple to check and hope. Most of the players are in.
ON THE FLOP: Jx-7x-2s
Ugh. That's not much. We're folding to any bet -- but the table checks.
ON THE TURN: 3s
Whoa -- now wait a minute. Suddenly we have an open-ended straight flush draw! A man across the table offers a meager "stab" bet of 500. We certainly can call, in hopes of a big payday on the river.
ON THE RIVER: 4d
Ugh. No straight flush. No flush. No straight. But we do have a pair, so there's a little hope. As we recall, another 500 bet comes from across the table. We call it, hoping the opponent only has Ace high.
"I hit the river," we say as we show. "Not the way I wanted to, but...."
But our opponent turns over 7-9. His middle pair on the flop survived for a win.
While we won a couple more pots, hopeful cards didn't turn into huge gains for us. Our stack slowly dwindled (with one big chance failing, which we'll mention another day). When pocket Jacks showed up in the Big Blind, we went all-in for 11,000 - but a 9 on the flop gave a man with 9-9 three of a kind. Out of six players, we left in sixth place.
MINISTRY MOMENT: We would have been second out, but a man who went bust first stayed in thanks to a re-buy. He's a man confined to a wheelchair, who seems barely able to function -- yet he plays, and the other players know him well.
"You have a lot of wristbands," we told Jimmy. He wore at least 15 on both wrists, from our count -- and we noticed one of them appeared to have "Jesus saves" on it.
"Be sure that Jesus band is showing," we advised Jimmy. "That's the most important one."
We're not sure if he agreed with that -- but it led us to think about our busy lives. If we're not careful, we can get overwhelmed in a world of work and family and bills and commutes. It can take effort to make time for a poker day. But even more importantly, it can take effort to make time for God.
He also that received seed among the thorns is he that hears the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and be becomes unfruitful. - Matthew 13:22 (KJV)
Jesus is explaining a parable about a sower who sows "seeds of the gospel," as some ministries call it (verses 3). When "the word of the kingdom" (verse 19) lands on thorns, the things of this world can choke it away.
If your life is filled with thorns, it might be good to take some time and list your life's priorities. But we'd dare say if poker is at the top of the list, your priorities are off-track.
But seek you first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you. - Matthew 6:33 (KJV)
Jesus plans to bring that kingdom to Earth someday. Are you willing to make that "priority one," to receive the ultimate payoff?
UPDATED POKER SCOREBOARD: 161 final tables in 444 games (36.3%) - 26 cashes. It almost seems like cheating to call this a "final table" finish, when barely enough players showed up for a tournament and we finished last - but that's what happened.