Monday, June 29, 2009

A challenge from "god"

The following is the transcript of an actual recent chat between your blog and "pokergod" at an online poker table. But first, the hand which led to it....

BLINDS: 30/60


We take a chance on suited connectors and call.

ON THE FLOP: A-Q-J, no diamonds

"pokergod" is the only player in the hand with us. He bets small. We fold.

pokergod1971: someone always calls [describing a big win of the previous hand]
Dealer: pokergod1971 wins Main Pot ($210)
pokergod1971: A Q
Me: I call on God a lot.
Me: More careful about calling you.
Me: ;--)
pokergod1971: he wasnt with you there
pokergod1971: less he said fold
Me: Well, this is a little poker game.
Me: And when you try to play 2-3 suited and miss.....
pokergod1971: hes busy right now
Me: God can give wisdom, too.
pokergod1971: fo sho

If you fail to win every hand at the poker table, has God deserted you? We really don't think so.

"In this world you will have trouble," Jesus warned in John 16:33. Thankfully, the Lord didn't stop there. "But take heart! I have overcome the world."

James 1:5 adds this advice, which we tried to bring out: "If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it shall be given him."

Believers should ask God often for wisdom -- whether they're playing poker, overseeing their families or running a business. It appears even Jesus did this as He grew up, because Luke 2:52 reveals, "Jesus grew in wisdom and stature...."

God's wisdom is much better than ours. And by applying it properly, you might save yourself from an embarrassingly big loss.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Poker Night #78: A Different Kind of "Thriller"

"Michael Jackson" were the first two words we heard as we walked into Lil Kim's Cove for tonight's tournament. A woman was on a cell phone, telling someone about the singer's sudden death. It was the talk of many in the club. But the players were there for poker -- and this hand brought a play some could call "Human Nature"....

BLINDS: 200/400


We won an early pot with pocket Aces, so we have about 9,000 chips. A call is affordable, and several players join in.


A room-service straight! The only problem is that we're first in line to bet. At the back of the line, we could create something in reaction to other players.

We decide to go big, which goes against our usual game plan -- "3,500."

"That's a bold bet," says the woman to our immediate left who has folded. (She eventually builds an enormous chip stack by eliminating several players.)

"K-10?" a man to her left asks. (He's folded, too.) We pretend to ignore him. Only one man, who may not have heard that, chooses to take us on.


A pair on the board opens the door for a possible full house. But we refuse to back out of the throttle -- "3,500 more." The other man calls.


Seemingly harmless -- but why does that other player keep calling? We slow down slightly and bet 3,000.

"All I have is 1,525," that man says. He calls, going all-in.

"You guessed I had K-10?" we say to the man who posed the question. "You're right" and we show it. Our opponent had A-10, and missed the straight. It's a bounty tournament, so the knockout earns us a 5,000-chip bonus -- on top of the 8,500+ the opponent had.

That was the high point of the night for us, as good cards didn't come often after that. We held on to take 10,000 chips to a nine-player final table. But on the first hand at the final table, our pocket Aces were stymied by another player who went all-in and wound up with three 9's.

P.S. There was NO "Michael Jackson luck" for us during the tournament tonight. We really don't believe in such things -- so when we were dealt J-5 of hearts at one point in the night, we folded a "Jackson-5" hand. It would NOT have won.

MINISTRY MOMENT: The NBC Sports online poker room frustrates a lot of players by occasionally kicking them out due to computer "latency" problems. (In our case, automatic anti-virus updates can do it.) During a tournament earlier in the day, one player wrote: "JesusChrist got booted for a f***in 10 mins."

"I've been booted, too," we respond. "And I like Jesus Christ." No one responded to that.

UPDATED POKER SCOREBOARD: 34 final tables in 78 nights (43.6%) - 8 cashes.

We've made six final tables in the last eight, eight in the last 12 -- and let the record show we were the only player to make the final table both Wednesday and Thursday night this week.

YAHOO POKER TOTAL: $13,211 - RECORD HIGH, up $129.

NBC SPORTS POKER TOTAL: Five-player games - 17-20-2-3-5; cash tournaments - 4 final tables in 52 games (7.7%), no cashes.

Our best result yet there occurred last Friday -- an 8th-place finish out of 146 players. We've wound up in the "top 25" in four of the last ten tournaments.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Poker Night #77: Escape Artists

We know from our search results that many people visit this blog to see about poker locations in Columbus, Georgia, which is where we're based. Wednesday nights are now filled with options: Club H2O on the north side, Soho Bar and Grill in the northeast, and Lil Kim's Cove near South Commons.

Lil Kim's added a Wednesday night game for the first time tonight -- and since it's walking distance from where we live, that's where we played. It was a good choice, as only about 20 players showed up and we finished fifth. We might have finished higher, as we had a big stack of chips for awhile -- but opponents who went all-in against us beat us twice. Eventually it was our turn....

BLINDS: 1,000/2,000


At one point we had more than 22,000 chips. (Yes, we keep track as the game goes along.) But at this point, we're down to 6,500. We can't assume anything better is coming, so we go all-in. Four different players wind up calling, including a second player all-in for a higher amount.

No one else has an Ace; one man has a small pair (we think it was 9-9).

ON THE FLOP: Q-5-? (don't recall third card)

One man had a Queen, so he's smiling.


No help to anyone.


Saved by the river! Our chip stack jumps to about 18,000.

But the blinds kept rising -- and after the two-hour color-up we were left with 10,000 chips and blinds at 5,000/10,000. In the big blind, our J-7 was no match for higher cards.

MINISTRY MOMENT: A woman to our immediate left works in a bar by day, and plays poker by night. We showed her our "Jesus as your Savior" card protector coin, and she said she really agreed with the message. Trouble is, her language at the table would leave you thinking otherwise. That's a topic for another day.

UPDATED POKER SCOREBOARD: 33 final tables in 77 nights (42.9%) - 8 cashes. See you there tomorrow night?

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Where Do You Walk?

One player had pocket Aces at the online table. But "John" made three of a kind and won a big pot. That led the loser to remark: "John is a water walker."

We honestly were unsure what that player meant. But we commented that we believe in "Someone" who really has walked on water.

No one at the table replied to our comment. But in case you're puzzled by it, we're talking about Jesus. "In the fourth watch of the night Jesus went to them, walking on the sea," says Matthew 14:25 (KJV).

Read a few verses beyond that and you'll find Peter tried to do what Jesus did. It worked for awhile, but then Peter "was afraid" and started to sink (verse 30). Jesus offered this analysis of what happened: "O you of little faith, wherefore did you doubt?" (verse 31)

If you have the "faith" or daring to make a big bet on a straight or flush draw (or even less), why not try to have faith in Jesus? He's a much more certain bet -- especially beyond this life.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

NBC Championship #1: The 22-Minute Workout

Well, that didn't take long. And that's too bad. Our first appearance at the NBC Sports Sunday evening "weekly championship" had a lousy-luck ending for us. Here's how the evening went, with play starting at 7:00 p.m. U.S. ET:

7:05: We play 3-5 suited with the blinds at a minimum 15/30. On the Flop: A-2. A player ahead of us makes a $220 bet -- too much for us to chase a straight draw this early. We fold. Then, of course, there's a 4 on the turn. A pair of aces take the pot. Boo-hoo.

7:12: We play suited hearts, and hit a flush on the river! Players were making minimum bets to that point. We bet $500, with about $780 left. Everyone folds. We don't show what we have.

7:22: BLINDS: 30/60


We're near the end of the line to bet at a full table. A man ahead of us raises to $180. With about $930 in chips, of course we'll call. Two other players do.


Top pair + top kicker looks good. The player who bet first before bets $220. We call, as do the other two.


Top two pair + top kicker! The first player in line checks. We check, choosing to lay low. But the next man up makes a big bet to push the first two of us all-in. Both of us do it -- and we personally hope nothing will go wrong. The man who made the big push has A-10.


Owwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww! A classic "suck out" gives the pusher the pot. Our final score: 480th out of 669 players. No money tonight.

One general impression of our short game: several players took pots simply by making "all-in" bets before the flop. Who knows whether or not they had a hand. Careful players gave them the benefit of the doubt. "Push first and win" poker isn't a style we like, but it worked for a few people.

Potentially big Sunday

....and not only because it's Father's Day in the U.S.

We've won our way into the Sunday night NBC Sports weekly championship tourney. It's a first for us -- and we'll be part of 1,000 online players competing for an $800 first prize. (We've found only 600-700 actually show up to play, for whatever reason.)

We'll let you know how it goes.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Conversation with "god"

This god is in lower case, because he sat next to us at an online poker table this week. The man's table name includes the phrase "pokergod." For someone involved in poker ministry, this was too good to resist.

"So do you think you're a god?" we asked by chat.

"Are you serious?"

"Well, that's in your name."

Pokergod explained the name scares some opponents. Well, not us. As we chatted, we won a pot from Pokergod, and gave thanks to "the true God."

"I choose to stick to reality," he eventually said.

That's a crossroads point, when it comes to the true God. Is He real to you? Do you see God at work in your daily life?

Believers probably don't look for God's hand in the middle of poker hands. Missed flush draws happen. A lot. But believers see God's hand in plenty of other things -- from a beautiful sunrise to the wonders of animal life large and small.

To see that takes what Paul calls the "spirit of faith" in II Corinthians 4:13. He went on to write: "We fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal" (verses 17-18).

Do you have that sort of vision? A vision of the real God, not someone who simply takes that name -- and many ministers would warn take God's name in vain? (Ex. 20:7)

By the way: Pokergod wound up winning the tournament. We did well, finishing 14th out of 136 players. As we parted, Pokergod asked us to go easy on him here. Whether or not we have ultimately is a matter of perspective -- but we'd ask you which "god" is more worthy of fear and worship.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Poker Night #76: Getting Pushy

Under the normal format at the live tournaments we usually play in Columbus, the director likes to say the "serious poker" begins after the one-hour break. Blinds are 500/1,000 and climbing fast, and the smallest chip in play is a 500. That led to a poker sermonette tonight at Lil Kim's Cove from usual nemesis Harry, sitting to my right.

In the first hand at 500/1,000, he raised 3,000 right away. No one called, and he took the blinds. "I raised big with a pocket pair, so no one could suck out on me on the flop," Harry declared -- then repeated his comment a couple of times. (No, he doesn't drink.) Sure enough, Harry had pocket Jacks.

Next hand, Harry raised 4,000 pre-flop. "Remember what he just said," we told the players around us. "Unless he said all that to set up a bluff."

No one dared try it -- and Harry displayed pocket 10's. "Just giving you all something to think about."

But for us, the serious poker came earlier in the evening. We lost about half our starting stack with A-K when an opponent made a K-Q full house on the river. (We bailed out and folded when she went all-in.) So we needed a double-up anyplace we could find it....

BLINDS: 200/400

IN THE POCKET: A-10 offsuit.

We're the small blind, with a chip stack of 1,900. Some players might have pushed it all then and there, but we choose to lay low and call. Several players join the action.


"I'm all in," we say going first. Another player curses at the thought of betting 1,700 to take us on. A different opponent guesses correctly we have an Ace, and folds. (One speculates it's A-5, because we beat him with A-7 two pair on the flop earlier.) The woman who cursed our bet calls.

"They're only chips," a man across the table points out. "Only chips." Yeah right -- we could feel our heart strongly beating for a moment. That man calls, as does one other.


All we can do is watch. The table checks.


The same thing happens. "I have Ace with a 10," we reveal. But the man across the table has A-7 -- and we wind up splitting the pot with A's and K's.

That was our last good moment of the evening, as the blinds and poor cards combined to kick us out after about 90 minutes. Our last slim hope was an all-in big blind with A-4. Another 4 hit the board, but an opponent with 6's topped it.

MINISTRY MOMENT: Our thanks to Lawry's for inventing seasoned salt. We put some on our dinner before the poker tournament, and decided to take a tall eight-ounce jar of it to serve as the biggest "card protector" we've ever had.

Of course, several people asked about it. That was the idea. "I read in a book that I'm supposed to be the salt of the earth." No one asked which book -- and we suspect a couple of them knew, but didn't want to press the issue.

Which book is it? The Bible -- specifically the words of Jesus in Matthew 5:13. If the phrase puzzles you, read Colossians 4:6 as well. Then pray for God's wisdom in understanding what it means.

UPDATED POKER SCOREBOARD: 32 final tables in 76 nights (42.1%) - 8 cashes.

YAHOO POKER TOTAL: $13,082 - unchanged. (Because we haven't played there lately.)

NBC SPORTS POKER TOTAL: Five-player games - 14-15-2-2-5. Cash tournaments - 3 final tables in 43 games (7.0%), no cashes.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Poker Night #75: The Quicker Picker-Upper

"Should we make it a bounty night?" the tournament director asked at the start of tonight's game at Soho Bar & Grill. Moments later, he decided the answer was yes -- and it had nothing to do with paper towels.

The bounty rules awarded a gold bonus chip worth 5,000 to anyone who eliminated another player. But why settle for one, when you can have a double play?

BLINDS: 200/400

IN THE POCKET: 6-4 of spades

We're in the big blind -- and with several players calling, we can check our way into the hand.

ON THE FLOP: 7s-8s-Jh (not exactly sure about the third card)

There's straight and flush potential for us -- not to mention a combination of the two. The small-blind woman in front of us bets 500. We call, as do one or two others.


The least of the three options, but we'll take it. The woman playing first now merely checks. Sorry, that won't do -- we bet 500. Another woman across the table then goes all-in, adding about 1,350 more. The woman playing first only has about 550 left, but she goes all-in as well. Our call is obvious.

"Straight, 4 to 8," we say as we turn up our cards. The first woman in line only has a King high, and she's sunk. The other woman appears to have a pair of 8's.


The straight works up -- and it's a double takeout, earning us 10,000 bonus chips!

At one point our stack reached 25,000. But with the blinds rising into the thousands, another player with even more made two big all-in pushes against us after the flop. We made a smart laydown with A-K which didn't pair. But the second time, we smelled a bully bluff and called with A-J. We were wrong, as the opponent had 9's and 7's while we never made a pair. Final position: 19th place -- ending our long run of final tables.

MINISTRY MOMENT: A big bet that we called early prompted a man to our left to say, "Jesus."

"He's my hope of salvation," we respond. (Check I Thessalonians 5:9, if you're not sure about that.) The man says nothing more.

UPDATED POKER SCOREBOARD: 32 final tables in 75 nights (42.7%) - 8 cashes.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Cruel to be kind?

"There's no sorry in poker," someone wrote at an NBC Sports tournament the other day. We had just written "sorry" to a player we eliminated.

We've asked recently if it's possible to be nice at a poker table -- something expressed in words such as "sorry." While the word "nice" is not in main Bible translations, we found this in I Peter 3:8-9:

"Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing...."

A compassionate approach cares about other people. Yes, the object of the game is to eliminate your opponent -- but you don't have to resort to "trash talk" to do it. Have concern for others and their situations. After all, that's how Jesus operated.

Kindness and goodness are among the fruit of God's spirit in Galatians 5:22-23. They're listed alongside peace and patience, which are valuable traits for any poker player to have. If you've developed the latter two, why not work on the others?

Monday, June 15, 2009

Highest Highs, Lowest Lows

So when was the last time you made quads at a poker table? If ever?

We did it Monday -- not once but twice.

It happened online at NBC Sports. The first one with quad 2's allowed us to eliminate an opponent in a morning tournament. The second time was in a later "sit-and-go" five-player game which we won.

But we wound up missing the final table in the morning tournament by one hand. We finished 11th when we had pocket K's and 9's against a woman who went all-in with pocket 6's -- only to see her hit a club flush on the river.

That's not the only bad beat we've had at NBC Sports in the last couple of days....

BLINDS: 100/200 (we think, not sure)

IN THE POCKET: A-Q of diamonds

Our chip stack is small, so this is an instant all-in play for us. A few other players call, and keep taking on each other.

ON THE FLOP: 7d-10d-3 offsuit

A flush draw gives us hope.

ON THE TURN: Another 7.



Yesssss! The top diamond flush at that! So we....

Well, we lose. Another player has 7-3, and made a full house on the turn. Ka-blamo.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Poker Night #74: Killing Me Softly

We simply asked for trouble at Lil Kim's Cove tonight. Harry sat directly to our right -- the same Harry who took us out at the Soho final table one night before. (He wound up winning the tournament.) Oh, and the same Harry who gave us the bad beat two weeks ago in an A-Q vs. A-J matchup.

History seemed to be repeating itself early in the evening. Harry was making big hands and winning pots. It led to this, and admittedly our memory's a bit fuzzy on some of it....

BLINDS: 100/200

IN THE POCKET: J-9 of hearts

The betting raises the stakes to 500. We give it a whirl, along with Harry and a couple of others.

ON THE FLOP: 6h-6d-3 (not a heart).

Harry's ahead of us in the order, and bets 600. With three hearts, we go against better judgment and call. All the other players fold. An "over-card" or another heart could be coming....


"Whoa!" we say at the sight of that.

"That's OK. You've probably got me," Harry says. He checks. So do we.


No flush, no straight, no nuttin' for us. Harry checks again. What would you do here? Make a bluffing bet, hoping to steal the pot?

We don't. We check again. "I have a Jack," we say.

"I have quads," Harry says -- as in the 6 of spades. We thank Harry for being so nice to us, by merely checking twice. (We still need to address that topic here.)

So what do you think Harry was doing, by checking twice? After pondering it at the computer, we don't think he was being Mr. Nice Guy to us. He probably wanted us to make a bet toward the pot, then come back with a "check-raise" to make us pay -- or even go all in. Harry may also have been thinking of the house rules at Lil Kim's Cove: win with quads and get a 5,000-chip bonus.

But that was Harry's high point for the night. He started losing hands (even one to us, when we had a pair of Aces), and was eliminated in about 15th place. We hung on, took out an opponent with three 10's, and made it to our second final table in as many nights. But rising blinds did us in, as we went all in with our last 5,000 when we paired a 5 on the flop. An opponent with three K's overpowered us, and we finished sixth.

MINISTRY MOMENT: We had one tonight, but a better one came earlier in the week at an NBC Sports online game. One player at the table went by the name "FloodofSins."

We keep Bibles near our computer for moments like this -- and give thanks that mistakes of the past are washed away by God "as with a flood." (Psm. 90:4-5)

UPDATED POKER SCOREBOARD: 32 final tables in 74 nights (43.2%) - 8 cashes. We've reached four final tables in a row, and are two hands shy of an amazing eight in a row.

YAHOO POKER TOTAL: $13,082 -- down $40.

We're not playing at Yahoo much nowadays, because we're going for the money offered at NBC Sports. Besides, we think the true Texas Hold' em format at NBC Sports is making us sharper at live tournaments than Yahoo's small-bet "cash game" format.

NBC SPORTS TOTAL: Five-player games - 12-14-1-1-5. Cash tournaments - 3 final tables in 33 games (9.1%), no cashes.


A reader writes: "After I lost my b**t with my stocks.... this happens!"

Good thing I haven't signed up for one of those sites yet. But is former Senator D'Amato right -- are these "law-abiding poker players?"

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Poker Night #73: Mama's Night Out

We tried a new poker location tonight, invited by the director of the Thursday night games at Lil Kim's Cove. Soho Bar and Grill has rock bands on weekends, but it was conservative enough to have The O'Reilly Factor on TWO of its four TV screens when we walked in.

For one group of players, it was family poker night. The mother sat to my immediate right. She gave herself away with several statements that you'd only hear a mother say -- things like, "Daughter, would you share a fry?"

At one point early in the evening, "Mama" (which is what we called her) demanded respect from the rest of the table -- and we offered her some on the spot. "So would you put in the small blind, please?"

But Mama played well enough to make the final table. And so did we, tying with her for fifth place on the evening. We've heard the winner at Soho gets $100 -- and when we left, a Lil Kim's Cove regular named Harry was in line to get it. He was on fire at the final table, so when the moment came to take him on, we felt confident....

BLINDS: 5,000/10,000

The tournament director is in a lively mood, and throws two gold chips for 10,000 onto the table just for the fun of it. Somehow we don't think "ante" rules at casinos work this way.

IN THE POCKET: ACE of hearts-ACE of spades!

Our stack stands at 55,000 -- but that doesn't sound so good when the blinds are so high. We only raise to 30,000, hoping to induce further betting. In a hopeful sign, Harry (holding what looks like 550,000) asks how many more chips we have -- then re-raises to 55,000.

Mama sits in the big blind, and dares to join the jamboree. She only has 15,000 left. Haggling then ensues over exactly what Mama can win. We're tempted to declare it won't matter -- but Deuteronomy 5:16 says we should honor mothers.

"Oh yes, and I'll call," we declare when a quiet half-moment comes. Three of the six players at the table then turn up their cards. Harry has A-10 of diamonds. Mama has Q-8 of diamonds. We feel good.

ON THE FLOP: Jd-6d-3 (forget which suit).

"How about a diamond?" Harry asks. Oh no...


Flushed out again! Harry's happy, and our Aces have no chance.


Like so many hands on this night, it was a big Harry deal.

MINISTRY MOMENT: Early in the evening, someone across the table from us used the name "Jesus" in a semi-profane sort of way.

"He's my hope of salvation," we say quietly -- probably too quietly for that person to hear. But Mama next to us heard it.

"Oh, He IS my salvation!" Mama declares. (Oh, is Jesus yours as well? Review Acts 4:12 for a stern warning about that.)

Mama later hears the word "Jesus" in a song on the Soho background music. She points it out to us.

"I heard the name, but I didn't hear the rest of it," we admit. Neither did she; she wondered if we caught the context. We then add: "Lots of folks say the name of Jesus, but that doesn't always mean it's the right way."

UPDATED POKER SCOREBOARD: 31 final tables in 73 nights (42.5%) - 8 cashes. While we won no money, fifth place put us in the running for a "quarterly" big game at Soho in a few weeks.

(Yahoo and NBC Sports records will be updated after the Lil Kim's Cove game Thursday.)

Diamond Vision

(Today marks three years since our first major post about poker at our other blog, The Blog of Columbus, GA. It's a mix of fantasy and fun, but with a serious embedded message.)

"Welcome back to Christian Poker Showdown, presented by St. Pauli Girl. We're here at the biggest of all big events, the Universal Series of Poker! Former tournament champ and standup comic Gabe Kaplan is alongside - and Gabe, we're down to two big names in this game: Jesus and Satan."

"You know, Richard, I still can't believe Jesus Christ is here in person playing poker."

"Well, maybe Christians aren't playing Rook the way they used to."

"And these guys have been yakking it up at the table. At least Satan has. Let's listen in on him now."

"If you think you're really the Son of God, you'd give me a bit of a break here."

"Why should I do that? You've been scamming people out of their houses and fortunes all week."

"They're called bluffs, my friend. And did you see how I knocked out that one guy last Tuesday with three sixes? Classic!"

"We're playing basic Texas Hold 'Em here. And thanks to our table cameras, we can see what they've been dealt. Satan has -- a king and queen of spades! 'Big slick' for Satan!"

"That describes him pretty well, if you ask me, Richard. He's not going to sit still with that."

"Indeed, Satan raises 2,500 right away."

"Now, we don't know what Jesus has. He hasn't picked up his cards yet -- but he's going to call that big bet!"

"It's poker -- so this might be blind faith by Jesus."

"That's pretty clever, pal. But maybe Jesus is giving Satan that break he asked for. Christ is playing with half His hand tied behind his back - which kind of makes him like Rush Limbaugh."

"I don't dare touch that one. Instead, we'll look at the flop - and it's a jack of diamonds, five of hearts, king of clubs. A pair of kings for Satan!"

"All he needs is one more, and he can sing to Jesus, 'We three kings of Orient are.'"

"Are the kings on those cards really Oriental? Anyway, Jesus politely checks."

"I'd think the devil is going to bet here. He'll try a temptation of Christ in some way."

"It probably won't be the last one, either. Satan shoves in another 5,000."

"He's being the aggressor, that's for sure - but Jesus calls him again."

"And He STILL hasn't looked at those cards, yet He's not backing down at all. Here comes the turn card - a ten of diamonds. That doesn't help Satan much."

"Well, wait a second, blog-face. He can go top or bottom now for a straight. This could simply feed the beast -- if you know what I mean."

"I'll bet 10,000."

"Satan's being a daredevil again!"

"Except he already IS the devil, Gabe. And Jesus calls AGAIN, not looking at His cards!"

"W.W.J.D. What in the world is Jesus doing?"

"Here comes the last card out, the river -- a QUEEN of diamonds. Satan doesn't get his straight, but he has two high pair!"

"Yet Jesus is the Prince of Peace - checking again on the river. Satan must be ready to jump out of his chair."

"I'm all in."

"Satan is ready to risk it all on this hand! And you have to admit, his hand is pretty good."

"More kings and queens than at a Taylor County prom. Listen:"

"What do you think of THAT, Jesus?"

"Tell you what, Satan. I'll raise you -- and put salvation for all humanity on the table."

"Wohhhhh! Look at that, Gabe! Now this is REALLY going all in!"

"The stakes don't get much higher than this, Richard. I can't wait to see what Jesus has been holding. In fact, HE can't wait to see it, either."

"Nor can a lot of people now. He flips them over - an ACE-KING of DIAMONDS!?!?! Jesus has a straight flush!!"

"How does that old song go, Richard? Bring forth the royal diamonds?"

"I think that's diadem, Gabe. But jaws are on the floor all over this room!"

"The King of Kings had an ace, besides. Let's go down to our birthday gal, at tableside."

"Lyanne Melendez here with Satan the devil - and Satan, what happened on that last hand?!?!"

"(CENSORED), that's what happened! I mean, I had Jesus nailed. I nailed him once before, you know."

"Yeah, but after three days, He broke away from THAT one, too!"

"You didn't have to bring that up, at a time like this...."

"So after such a humiliating defeat, what does the devil do now?"

"I think I'll go back down to Georgia - see if there are any other fiddle players I can pick on."

"And as for Jesus, guys - He seems to have disappeared in the crowd."

"Thanks, Lyanne - and you know, Richard, Satan might like the change of scenery. As they say down in Georgia, the devil deals the cards."

"Gabe, after seeing such an epic moment of truth, what can we learn from this?"

"It's pretty clear to me. Always have a six-second tape delay, when Satan's playing poker."

"I mean beyond that. What can other Christian poker players take away from this match?"

"There are all sorts of lessons, probably. Don't get too big a head, around the river - especially around Someone who promises rivers of life. It also shows straight is the way that leads to success. What did you learn?"

"It proves something I heard a church pastor say the other day. When it comes to saving human beings -- God is making diamonds."

"He's probably making hearts in the process, too."

"Yeah -- but I'd still be careful around those clubs."

Tuesday, June 9, 2009


Never let it be said that online poker lacks in excitement. Our big run at NBC Sports Tuesday night had several -- such as the moment when we held 9-10, and 9-9-10 came on the flop. (And the best part is that you can whoop and holler when those flops come, with no one hearing or seeing you.)

But as we say, we felt robbed at the end of the night. Here's why....

BLINDS: 500/1,000; ante 75

IN THE POCKET: 3-4 offsuit

With only about 15 players left, our chip stack is in good shape at about 15,000. We call, as do a few others.

ON THE FLOP: A-3-8 (memory fuzzy on the 8; it won't matter)

We make bottom pair, but that's not worth betting. Everyone checks.


A straight is now possible, but we're still being cautious. Everyone checks again.


Wow, the straight happened! We're first in line to bet, and toss in $5,000. That scares away most players -- but a man on the button with a stack of about 26,000 goes all-in.

Without hestitation, we call to put ourselves all-in. That man probably thinks we're trying to buy the pot -- and the worst that could happen is a matching 5 to split the pot. Right?

Wrong. Our opponent has 4-6. A higher straight to the 6 kicks us out in 13th place.

"Hurt," one observer rights. Ouch, indeed. But then we remember -- it's happened before and worked in our favor at Lil Kim's Cove.

Moral of the story: Job 1:21 -- "The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord."

Long Fight, Tough Finish

We're playing more often at the NBC Sports poker room -- and every night the 10:30 p.m. ET tournament has the top daily prize of $35.

Tonight was our best showing yet in that game, with our chip stack going above 20,000 a couple of times. Out of 276 players, we finished 13th -- three off the final table. But to be honest, we felt robbed at the end. Details coming later Tuesday....

Sunday, June 7, 2009

I go to The Rock

And we think you should, too.

"The Rock" is the unofficial name of a web site set up at "Christian Poker." We've admittedly never heard of the overseer of this site, E. Vail Scott -- but he comes across as a deeper believer than Daniel Negranu. At least his site is more outgoing with it.

All in all, interesting stuff.

Friday, June 5, 2009

More time to play

More time for ministry.

That's what losing your job can mean.

We'll say more about that later. Meantime, please pray for us.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Poker Night #72: Nice Guys Finish....

"You can't be nice and play poker," the woman sitting to our left said early in tonight's game at Lil Kim's Cove.

"I think you can be nice," we answered a moment later. "I mean, I could step on your foot and distract you."

No, we didn't do that. Instead, we were nice in our words and actions -- and it brought a nice result. We finished SECOND in the tournament, for our best result since last December. Our reward at Lil Kim's Cove is a card for a "bucket of beers" -- but we don't drink beer. So we'll either get a six-pack of sodas some night soon (yeah, right), or sell it to another player for cash (going rate $10).

How nice was the evening? Take this odd example....

BLINDS: 50/100

IN THE POCKET: 10-7 of diamonds

Early in the match, it's worth a try. We call, as do several others.

ON THE FLOP: Q-10-8 (only the 8 is a diamond)

The play checks to us. With middle pair, we put out a feeler bet of 175. That runs a couple of players off, but three remain.


The flush dream is gone, but now we have two pair. One player ahead of us checks, so we make a fun bet. "It's a Nashville bet -- 650, WSM." (A man to our right gets the joke.) The player who checked calls, but admits he's not sure.


"I got a straight!" the man ahead of us declares -- and turns over his cards to prove it. He has K-9. But hold it.

"Then I guess I'll fold," we say -- because the man is supposed to say first if he's checking or betting. Other people at the table point it out to him. He checks. Fine by us. He wins the pot.

"See? He was being nice at the poker table," we point out.

"No, he wasn't." Another player points out the obvious.

"I was like a kid in the candy store," the winner admits. He's not a poker rookie; he simply slipped up. We all have a good laugh about it.

We reached the final table with 4,500 chips, but a couple of all-in wins there pushed our total as high as 32,500. But high blinds and a couple of losses proved too much for us -- and we lost on about the sixth hand of heads-up play to a man with six times more chips than we did.

(So what do you think? Is being nice possible in poker? Is being nice Biblical? Our answers are coming soon.)

MINISTRY MOMENT: At the final table, the player to our immediate right (who eventually won it all) talks to someone about something that "tasted good." That opens a door.

"Be careful," we say. "There was a woman long ago who tried something that tasted good. She gave it to her husband...."

The man loses interest, distracted by a woman on his right. But we finish the thought, for the record. "And we've all been in big trouble ever since."

The woman we're talking about is Eve. Read what happened to her in the Garden of Eden in Genesis 3. She gave in to temptation. When you play poker, it can be hard -- for instance, when you're dealt K-9 suited and players around you raise.

UPDATED POKER SCOREBOARD: 30 final tables in 72 nights (41.7%) - 8 cashes (11.1%). We've come within two hands of six final tables in a row!

YAHOO POKER TOTAL: $13,112 -- up $122, only $32 from our record high.

NBC SPORTS POKER TOTAL: Five-player tournaments - 10-14-1-1-3. Cash tournaments - 3 final tables in 22 games (13.6%), no cashes.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

It only takes one

....and when you don't have that one, that's a problem. Consider this hand in the opening minutes of Tuesday night's big NBC Sports cash tournament ($50 top prize):

BLINDS: 15/30


Early in the game, it's definitely worth a bet. Several players join in.

ON THE FLOP: Kh-8h-?? (We forget; not a heart and inconsequential)

We want to make a modest bet, but someone behind us bets about $100. Every player starts with $1,000. We take the chance and call.

ON THE TURN: Another heart (the 4, as best we recall)

We make a flush, but the player behind us in line bets about $360. We've found several players at NBC Sports tables like to make wild bets early -- either hoping to scare opponents away and build early leads, or perhaps get out and do other things. We assume this is one of those players, and we call.

ON THE TABLE: 2, not a heart

The player behind us goes ALL-IN! We recall what a man said out loud at Lil Kim's Cove one night about this kind of situation: "Only one card beats me." So we call, leaving us only about 30 chips to spare.

And wouldn't you know it? That opponent had the Ah-2h. He takes the pot, most of our chips -- and we're gone after a desperation bet a couple of hands later.

Ouch. That hurt. "You had the ONE card," we write. Then we start crying in chat-talk -- "boo-hoo," followed by "waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa."