To our surprise, Osage Casino where we played in the summer has closed its poker room. It's "temporary," one website says. (We'll get into that another time.) But that meant playing in a pricey Thursday night tournament. We chose the less expensive choice, "River Spirit Casino" operated by the Creek Nation - $75 buy-in plus $10 dealer appreciation.
The casino's poker room ranks among the nicest we've visited. Big-screen TV's abounded for watching Thursday night football, and a good variety of snacks and soda was available for free. But we didn't want that to distract us, because we came to play well....
IN THE POCKET: Q-J of diamonds
We started with 8,000 chips, plus a "bounty chip" worth $25 to whomever might eliminate us. We won some nice early pots to reach the one-hour break at 13,500. But now we have a challenge. A man at our table of six (or so) followed our early call with a raise to 3,500. That's a substantial investment, but after thinking it over we decide to call. No one else does.
ON THE FLOP: J-10-4 (third card may not be precise; it won't matter)
No diamonds came, but top pair did. We check to the raiser, and he goes all-in! He has 11,000. We have 10,500 left. What would you do at this moment?
We wonder if our opponent has pocket Aces or Kings. Something tells us he doesn't, and he's trying to steal the pot with a big scare. So we call - and he shows A-Q. Our hunch was right, but we have to dodge a lot of trouble.
"He needs a King," another player properly points out.
ON THE TURN: Q
"There's the King," that man says. Uhhhh - not from what we see. We now lead the race, two pair to one. We'd prefer the next card be low.
ON THE RIVER: 9
Just low enough! We stay alive and double-up, leaving our opponent at the brink of elimination.
More nice pots came after that in Hour 2, and we eliminated one player to win a $25 bounty chip. Yet due to some losses, at the second break we still were stuck at 13,600. But then came Hour 3, and some huge pot wins. We hit a high chip count of 89,500, and were able to coast to the final table. Once there, we scored a huge win with A-J when two Jacks showed up and a man pushed with J-Q. We earned a second bounty
But our efforts to eliminate a short-stacked player with seven to go started draining our chips. We still had 54,000 at the third break, but more misses left us in limbo at 15,000 chips and rising blinds. But then an even shorter stack pushed with 9,000, and lost to an unfortunate river card which gave someone else a full house.
The top five in this 43-player tournament made the money - and that means we did! After that, we pushed for our life with 9-9. But a man to our left made a straight on the river, to knock us out. Final score: fifth place for $138, plus $50 in bounties - although by agreement, all the players at the final table donated $20 to the "bubble" man who came in sixth.
MINISTRY MOMENT: We took our "Lord's Supper" card protector on the trip, and the man who eventually knocked us out didn't grasp it at first.
"I don't think he looked like that," we said to him as he turned the protector over to see a depiction of Jesus Christ. "I don't think He had long hair."
The man agreed. "It says He had no special appearance," the man noted. The "it" in this case is the Bible....
My servant grew up in the Lord's presence like a tender green shoot, like a root in dry ground. There was nothing beautiful or majestic about his appearance, nothing to attract us to him. - Isaiah 53:2 (NLT)
This is an Old Testament prophecy about the coming of Jesus. Does it seem surprising? Ancient artistic depictions of Jesus constantly walking around with a halo or standout appearance really aren't accurate. Consider, for example....
Jumping up, they mobbed him and forced him to the edge of the hill on which the town was built. They intended to push him over the cliff, but he passed right through the crowd and went on his way. - Luke 4:29-30 (NLT)
A crowd wanted Jesus dead, but they apparently couldn't pick Him out of the crowd when the climactic moment came. He was that.... well, ordinary-looking. Not "ordinary" in any other way, but in appearance. Yet someday soon....
And standing in the middle of the lampstands was someone like the Son of Man.... His head and his hair were white like wool, as white as snow. And his eyes were like flames of fire.... And his face was like the sun in all its brilliance. - Revelation 1:13-16 (NLT)
This "man" calls himself "the First and the Last" (verse 17; Revelation 22:13) - leaving little doubt it's Jesus Christ. The Bible says every eye will see Him when He returns (verse 7). Are you prepared to face Jesus at His judgment seat, no matter how He looks?
UPDATED POKER SCOREBOARD: 181 final tables in 490 games (36.9%) - 36 cashes. We've won money in five out of 30 tournaments we've entered this year!