Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Ohhhhh. Never mind.

We went to The Roadhouse for poker around 8:00 Wednesday night. We were still standing outside around 8:25.

Two men standing near the door confirmed it was poker night, but no one had shown up yet. Then those men showed they were NOT interested in poker camaraderie -- as they walked across 11th Street to avoid me, and continue their conversation.

A few people were inside The Roadhouse. Eventually one saw me at the front door, motioned me to a side door -- and that's when I learned the bad news. The club no longer has poker nights, and now officially is closed on Wednesdays.

"It wasn't bringing in enough people," a man told me. On the nights I attended, about 25-30 showed up.

So a downtown poker option no longer exists. Does this mean Columbus poker is in decline? You tell me.

A song for the table

We were online playing Yahoo poker just now, when 103.7 FM "The Truth" played the Twila Paris classic Christian song "Days of Elijah." We put some new words on the chorus on the spur of the moment, and came up with....

Poker time! Poker time is here!
Grab your chips! Get cards in the air!
Lift your voice, to raise over the top....
And on the river will the payoff come!

Play poker, avoid the other stuff

That's our strategy tonight. We plan to join in the Wednesday night free tournament at The Roadhouse, on Broadway in downtown Columbus.

That way we miss half-hour campaign commercials, 3 1/2 inning baseball games -- and who knows what else?

Monday, October 27, 2008

The hot seat

At Yahoo poker the other day, I practically could do no wrong. I hit a full house on the flop. Then I won a couple of pots by hitting flushes on the river.

"Hot seat," a woman at the table wrote.

"I know," I replied with a giggle.

In only a few minutes, my pretend cash count jumped $200. Apparently that was too good for the table's host, who booted me without any real reason. (All I said after that was about how I folded back-to-back flushes at Lil Kim's Cove the night before.)

Sometimes people get jealous of other people's success. They even want to take vengeance. But that's not really what a Christian should do.

"Rejoice with those who rejoice," Paul wrote in Romans 12:15. "Mourn with those who mourn."

Be happy if you win -- but be controlled. But here's the tough part: being happy when someone else wins. In poker, that's the difference between the "only a game" and the "win or else" philosophies. We hope your choice is the right one.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Poker Night #47: Expect the Unexpected

We didn't play any poker during vacation -- not even online. In fact, the deck of cards we took never even left the motel room drawer. We were at a religious convention, after all.

So we might have been a bit rusty on our return to Lil Kim's Cove tonight. But the better explanation for our performance was probably bad timing and instinct. We lasted more than an hour, but wound up in about 20th place among four crowded tables.

We won the first hand of the night, with modest "warm-up" or "feel things out" betting which left a couple of people at our table puzzled.

BLINDS: 25/50.

IN THE POCKET: 9-6 of hearts.

Several players toss the minimum in the pot, to start the party. We're in early position, which works to our favor.

ON THE FLOP: Kc, another club and a 6 (spade, I think).

Checks abound.

ON THE TURN: 6 of clubs.

"Somebody hit a flush," one player boastfully speculates. Thanks for the reminder.

"350," I bet. I have three of something, all right -- but not clubs.

Several players fold. "Why would he bet THAT if he had a flush?" one wonders. But one man stays in.

ON THE RIVER: A red 9.

OK, I'm listening to you skeptics -- "1,500." The other player quickly folds, so he's left to guess about whether I might have hit a full house.

But a couple of fairly big tries for pots after that fell short. As the blinds went up and my stack went down, I mucked back-to-back hands with two diamonds -- only to see enough diamonds turn up on the board to cost me consecutive flushes.

I won an all-in bet late in the evening with Kc-Jc, as a pair of Kings topped an opponent's Jack high. But when I went all in again with pocket 6's, aces and a King turned up -- and a man to my left had a King to top me.

MINISTRY MOMENT: "Is that for good luck?" a first-time poker player to my left asked after a couple of hands about my silver coin [Oct 1].

"No, it's not for that" -- and he read the message about Jesus it contains. "What do you think of that?"

"I don't expect to see that when playing poker," the man admitted.

I told him how I acquired the coin. The flip side of it has the logo for a Christian Motorcycle Association; a member gave it to me at a Bible study a few months ago. The other man told me he saw that group's booth at a Labor Day weekend drag racing competition in Reynolds, GA. "They were way up on a hill!" Above it all, perhaps?

The discussion about godly things ended with a quote of our unofficial motto: Our "King of Kings" can beat any Ace.

UPDATED SCOREBOARD: 21 final tables in 47 nights (44.7%) -- 6 cashes. For us, this is turning into a slump: only one final table in the last six sessions.

YAHOO POKER TOTAL: $8201 (Down $221; - 130 from poker).

Sunday, October 12, 2008

The road, not The Roadhouse

We're going away for about ten days, to an area where poker playing is unlikely -- in person or online.

But maybe we should take a deck of cards. Even to a religious convention.

UPDATED YAHOO TOTAL: $8201 (- 65)

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Where have we been?

Online lately -- but not playing a lot, as we prepare for an upcoming road trip.

Unless we find a free poker tournament on the road (and we may not have time), we hope to return to Lil Kim's Cove for Thursday night action on 23 October.

YAHOO POKER TOTAL: $8266 (down $156, but only down 65 from poker -- that blackjack bug can be dangerous)

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Poker Night #46: The Aces Crack'd

Playing carefully helped me win an early pot at The Roadhouse tonight. But a top pair in the pocket wound up biting me, and I wound up in about 15th place. (We have to say "about" because only two tables were in action, but latecomers kept being added to the game as others were knocked out.)

BLINDS: 50/100.

IN THE POCKET: Aces!

I'm the big blind, and players call around to me. I raise 400, and several people join the party.

ON THE FLOP: K-Q-junk. (I think it was an 8.)

I'm first up, and bet 1,000. The man to my left calls without a flinch. One or two others do the same.

ON THE TURN: More junk -- maybe a 5.

Something tells me trouble is looming here, even though there's nothing to indicate a straight or flush. So I check.

"I'm all in," the man to my left says right away. Uh-huh. "You don't go f***ing me by checking there. Take my chips."

What would you do? He might have an A-K or A-Q and merely have top pair.

"I'll do it. I'll call," I decide -- pushing in 3,300 to match his bet. "I've got rockets."

"Two pair," he says -- showing a K-Q.

"I feared that," I say in response. My hunch turned out to be right. Something WAS wrong here, but I dared to play on anyway. Yet all I have to do is pair the board on the river, and I'll win the pot with a higher two pair....

ON THE RIVER: More junk -- a 6, I think.

We never recovered from that big loss, finally going all-in with K-Q with the blinds at 100/200 and 625 left in our bank. But in that case, another player had pocket Aces -- and they held up to take the pot, and take me out. Didn't we just have a post about giving and taking away?


MINISTRY MOMENT: Before the game begins, a man notices my new card marker. It's a coin mentioning Jesus being your Savior. (More on that coin another time.)

"Feel mine," he says -- a thick, gold-edged old Mexican coin. The man then talks about the devaluation of the peso years ago relative to the dollar, and how Mexico's economy recovered from that much faster than the U.S. is from its housing mess.

"This," I say referring to my coin, "is more about the message than the money."

"Maybe it's platinum," the man says. But after holding it a second and looking at both sides, he concludes it's made "from the top of a Mountain Dew can."

This man must have read the message on the coin. But he didn't want to talk about what it said. Maybe another night he will -- or maybe he needed to think about it.

UPDATED SCOREBOARD: 21 final tables in 46 nights (45.7%) -- 6 cashes. As we mentioned below, this will be our last live tournament for a few weeks due to an upcoming church convention.

YAHOO POKER TOTAL: RECORD HIGH $8422 (Up $652). We've been cooking there lately, gaining more than $1,500 since Labor Day.

Some give and take

"Jesus Christ" someone wrote at a Yahoo poker table we visited recently.

"He's my hope of salvation," I wrote in reply. (Rom 10:13) A short reply, more factual than preachy.

An actual discussion about Jesus then followed, which is rare for online games. Someone else wrote the first writer had best be careful with that name. And that led to this comment:

"He giveth and he taketh away."

Downright King James -- and Biblically accurate. It's what Job said in the Old Testament (Job 1:21), after Satan took away much more than a tall stack of poker chips.

Job lost all his belongings, then most of his family. Yet his initial response was one of worship toward God (verse 20) -- and the Bible notes he did NOT sin in what he said (verse 22).

Read on in Job, and you'll find his frustration slowly seems to build. But that first reaction was quite impressive -- and as they say in government these days, faith-based.

How do you respond when a bad beat or a big bust-out happens? It's only natural to say something you'll later regret. Yet it's better to be like a spur-of-the-moment Job, instead of the one who starts sulking the more he thinks about what happened.

But back to the table. I answered the quote from Job by writing God has given me a lot. I did NOT write, but could have added, that we should focus on what God gives more than what He takes.

By the way, Job ends with him receiving greater blessings than he had before (42:10-15). So God can give again, even after He takes. The ultimate hope of the believer is that God will do that, in the form of eternal life.