Friday, February 26, 2010

Poker Night 140: Flip This House

The way things began at Lil Kim's Cove Thursday night, it was not going to be our night. We played promising hands such as 9-9 and A-8, only to see them come to nothing. A player raised ahead of our 10-5, and after we folded a 10's over 5's full house showed up. We bet too big when 5-5 on the flop gave us a set, and our gains were minimized.

On top of all this, we were in the big blind after the one-hour break -- hoping for anything good to happen. Simply hoping....

BLINDS: 500/1,000

IN THE POCKET: J-2 of diamonds

Ugh. That's not much. But thankfully, no one at the five-player table raises. We get in by checking.

ON THE FLOP: 2-6-8 (no diamonds)

Yes, it's a pair -- but it's the bargain basement of pairs. So we check, and so does everyone else.


The small blind checks. Our decision is automatic -- "all-in," we announce. A woman to our left calls.

"Not just no -- but L-no," the small blind says as he folds.


Remember the full house that eliminated us earlier in the week? It looks like what goes around is going to....

"I've got a boat."

Huh?!?! The woman to our left says she has one? We have 2's over 8's. But she shows A-8, and the river gave her 8's over 2's. She built a bigger boat, and we wash out in 24th place.

MINISTRY MOMENT: A nice word came up several times at our table. A woman said it first, after a big bet was made.

"Lord, have mercy!"

"I hope he has mercy on us all," we said as we folded.

Then we called a bet of 1,000 on the flop, holding two clubs while a third was showing. When the turn card failed us, our opponent across the table started stacking chips by the thousands.

"You don't have to unload the whole truck," we pleaded with him several times. Yet he almost did, making a bet in the 9,000 range which we didn't dare call.

"I decided to have some mercy on him," the pot winner said to someone else.

"Thank you for showing mercy," we said to him moments later. "Mercy is a good thing."

Jesus would agree with that. "But go and learn what this means: 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice.'" (Matthew 9:13) Do you think that's a good idea -- in poker or otherwise? We'll comment more on that in a future post.

UPDATED POKER SCOREBOARD: 57 final tables in 140 nights (40.7%) - 11 cashes. Online play is suspended for now, due to two road trips and a busy overall schedule.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Poker Night 139 - Down Highway 139

We drove to Benefield's Sports Bar in the Atlanta suburb of Riverdale by taking Georgia Highway 139, or Riverdale Road. Our success last Thursday earned a second visit this week. After dining on a grilled chicken dinner with soda for about $13, our $50 gift certificate gained the week before was deducted. (Nope, no cash payouts.) Could history repeat itself, making us two-for-two at Atlanta Poker Club events?

BLINDS: 50/100

IN THE POCKET: K-10 offsuit

We split the pot on the evening's first hand, but unsuccessful hands have dropped us to 1,700 chips. This tends to be a marginal hand for us, but we decide to try it. So do several other players.


At last there's reason for optimism, with top pair. But the regular dealer is ahead of us, and he bets 200. We call.

ON THE TURN: 3 of clubs

There's no sign of a flush on the board -- yet the dealer hikes the bet to 400. We're puzzled by this, but we call again. "I'll probably regret this," we say -- yet our humility is somewhat feigned.


We have top two pair -- but the dealer looks to see how many chips we have left. "Should I do it?" he asks. Then he does, betting 1,000 to put us all-in.

We're still baffled by what our opponent has. But we remember what he said a few pots before, when another man won with an all-in bluff holding nothing but Ace high: "Sometimes you've got to buy a pot. Everybody has to." We decide that's what the dealer is doing.

"I'll do it." We call the last 1,000.

"Good call," someone to our left says.

"Wow, wow," the dealer says.

"Is that a good wow?" we ask as we show our two pair with a 10. "A bad wow? A sham-wow?"

The answer: good for him. He shows 9-4, which he played in the blinds. He had two pair on the flop, a full house on the river -- and had us beat throughout.

Take-home lesson for us: be more wary. Our opponent clearly could have hit three of a kind on the river to top us. But we believed words more than cards -- to our loss.

MINISTRY MOMENT: It didn't really happen on this night. Quiet players on either side of you can make things challenging. The closest came when a woman to our left raised before the flop.

"As my pastor at church [the United Church of God] said last weekend: you're cautiously optimistic," we said to her.

Then we checked our cards, and found something small. "But my pastor also said we've passed the point of no return" -- and we folded.

In fact, that point was his sermon title -- as he declared the U.S. has passed "The Point of No Return," and is doomed to crash. Do you agree with that view? Why or why not?

UPDATED POKER SCOREBOARD: 57 final tables in 139 cashes (41.0%) - 11 cashes. We wound up one-for-two on our metro Atlanta road trip.

(We also played at Lil Kim's Cove Thursday night as usual. We'll post those results Friday.)

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Poker Night 138 - on Highway 138

We didn't really plan it that way. But during a business trip to metro Atlanta, our 138th live poker tournament took place at a sports bar on Georgia Highway 138.

Benefield's is part of the Atlanta Poker Club circuit, and has free games every Tuesday and Thursday night. We walked in unannounced Thursday, and found an atmosphere similar to real poker rooms. One person is the regular dealer at every table, with the "button" being passed. And even nicer for us, smokers are instructed to puff away from the table.

But a starting stack of 1,900 chips and blinds beginning at 25/50 lend toward careful play. A soda gave us 1,500 more, but things didn't go well early. We won a small pot with 5-5 in the pocket when trips came on the flop, but we bet too much for anyone to call. Then some misses left us with 850 at the one-hour break -- yet that's when a one-dollar tip for the server changed everything.

That tip (and a signed receipt) gave us 1,500 more chips. We went all-in with 9-9 when a 9 came on the flop -- and this time two people called. A full house with 7's bumped us up to 6,000, leading to a moment of drama....

BLINDS: 100/200

IN THE POCKET: A-7 of diamonds

We call when our turn comes. But a man sitting to our left has been betting big to steal pots. He raises to about 2,000, and we join two others players in calling.

(To be honest, we're a bit uncaring about our outcome at this point. We're on the road, and have to get back to our hotel for a good night's sleep.)

ON THE FLOP: 6d-8d-9c (not sure about the suit of the 9)

We're first up to bet, and check with a flush draw. The man to our left bets 1,000. Everyone around the table calls, and so do we.

ON THE TURN: Q (not a diamond)

We check again. The man to our left plunks down 2,000 -- and in the process puts two other players behind him all-in. It's a "truth or dare" moment, and we call again. (Recall the note in parenthesis above.)

"Flip over your cards," the female dealer says.

"Hold it!" we say to stop her -- although the all-in players already had done it. "I still have chips left." Only 500 remain in reserve, but we have some.


We miss the nut flush, but gain a very hopeful card. The man to our left bets to put us all-in for the last 500.

"I was hoping to hit a flush," we announce, "but on the river I hit a straight."

The man to our left stares at us -- then slightly nods his head. We've got him. He had K-J of diamonds, and missed the flush as well.

"And he had an Ace kicker!" another player says in amazement. We're not going back to the hotel now -- not with our stack up to about 30,000.

The momentum grew from there on the next hand. The big bettor to our left made a raise before the flop, and we were the only player to call holding J-J. When a Jack came on the flop, we knew what to do -- and checked.

"I'm all-in," the man said after a moment.

"Call," we answered without hesitating. "Jack-Jack-Jack!"

"Ahhhhh! Ahhhhhhh!" Our opponent started shaking us -- and might as well have been a melting witch in The Wizard of Oz. He had pocket Aces, and we wound up cracking them and eliminating him when a third Ace failed to show. In two hands, we sent him reeling from bully to beaten.

The stack built from there, and our top at the final table was about 84,000. The night ended with the bar's Thursday night points leader across the table from us -- but needing to catch a 6:00 a.m. flight to the west coast. We settled on him receiving first-place in club points, while we received the first-place prize: a 50-dollar Benefield gift certificate! (The top three players win "bar cash.")

In the process, we picked up 249.8 points -- and jumped into the top 500 for the winter season and 16th in Benefield's Thursday night competition. All in simply one night.

MINISTRY MOMENT: A late night allowed us to show our "Jesus as your Savior" coin to several people at the table. All said they agreed with the message. "Morning, noon and night!" one man declared. Good for them.

UPDATED POKER SCOREBOARD: 57 final tables in 138 nights (41.3%) - 11 cashes.

This was our first "cash" win since the northwest Florida trip in October. And we've made final tables in five of six February live tournaments -- gaining league points at eight in a row.

NATIONAL LEAGUE OF POKER TOTAL: Five-player sit-n-goes - 3-7-3-1-0. Full tournaments - 10 final tables in 159 games (6.3%), no cashes.

We finished sixth out of 232 players in a Presidents' Day afternoon game. But online poker probably will stop for awhile, because of a busy spring-cleaning schedule.

POKER STARS.NET TOTAL: $15,573 - up $5,088.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Poker Night 137: A Trip to the River

We're not sure how the last card on the board in a poker hand came to be called "the river." The Christian side of us guesses it comes from the Jordan River, which Israel finally crossed to enter the promised land (Joshua 1:2). Yet earlier today, we heard a deceased radio pastor declare people who build close to rivers are guilty of "greed and avarice." (He somehow pulled that out of James 1:13-15.)

At Club Eighty-Five tonight, we saw several cases where people may have come to the river card thinking greedily of winning a pot -- only to see someone else cross on to victory. Take this case....

BLINDS: 100/200


We started with 5,500 chips, but haven't won a pot yet and are down to 4,350. A player to our immediate right raises to 400. Looking for something to mount a comeback, we call. So do a couple of others.

ON THE FLOP: 9-3-9

The man who raised before is being incredibly quiet -- except to tell people to watch him, instead of waiting for him to say something. Now he simply sets his stack of 1,025 chips on the table.

"I've gotta call," we say. No one else does. We show our set of 9's. The bettor doesn't turn his cards over.


"That's good," we say.


That's bad. The opponent flips over K-K -- still saying nothing. The cards speak volumes, as he hits the river and more than doubles up. (Oh yes -- we weren't greedy. Simply hopeful.)

The cards eventually came our way in one hand -- as a King on the turn gave us a K-9 straight. Our all-in bet of 2,125 came through as a triple-up. We held on from there to finish ninth on the night -- and in the process, making the final table on Monday night for the sixth week in a row!

MINISTRY MOMENT: A young man we'll call Hubert grabbed our "Jesus as your Savior" coin from our seat during the evening, and gave it a close look.

"Do you believe that message? Is Jesus your Savior?" we asked.

"Yes. Absolutely," he said.

Hubert stunned the poker room with something else tonight -- he's decided to give up alcohol. During a break, he explained he reached this decision after a recent DUI arrest. "I decided it was either give up beer, or give up driving. And I can't give up driving." We think Hubert made a wise decision -- and maybe that's why he lasted at the final table longer than we did.

UPDATED POKER SCOREBOARD: 56 final tables in 137 nights (40.9%) - 10 cashes.

That's four final tables in our last five nights - but it appears a busy schedule will require us to take a break from live tournaments for the next week or so.

On the Other Hand UPDATE

We're still reviewing the sermon against poker which was posted by a Seventh-Day Adventist minister. We're going through it verse by verse, as a Bible study. It's becoming clear we're going to need our own lengthy article to give a full response -- as opposed to a simple blog post.

For now, we'll start with this. Yes, the Ten Commandments say, "Thou salt not steal." (Exodus 20:15) And yes, poker players talk of "stealing pots."

Does that mean our minister wants Christians to avoid ALL sports where stealing takes place? Is he against baseball? Football (interceptions)? What about basketball -- where an Adventist college's varsity team seems to support players stealing the ball?

Much more is coming on this.... stay tuned.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Poker Night 136: Clash of the Titans

The local poker tournament director started a points system in early January, a la NASCAR. Using that as a measure, we're doing well. We made the points at Lil Kim's Cove tonight, giving us six nights in a row where we finished in the top ten! Trouble was, we finished tenth -- missing the final table (our standard of success) by one hand and one player.

But the hand of the night was one we merely watched. It's a case of what can happen when someone tries to be the bully of the table....

BLINDS: 50/100

IN THE POCKET: 9-2 of diamonds

A man named Lee sits to our immediate right. He went all in on the previous hand after the flop with about 12,000 chips, and the table folded to him. We think we saw him show A-3. Now Lee pushes all-in before the flop. There's no way we're pushing with this, so we fold.

"How much is it?" asks a man wearing a cowboy hat to our left. We'll call him Tex.

"12,750," Lee answers.

Tex takes his good sweet time stacking up that many chips. Then he surrounds them with his hands, stares at the cards again and finally decides to call. Everyone else bails out.

Tex shows A-J. Lee shows A-K, and takes the lead. The dealer flips the cards over with dramatic slowness.

ON THE FLOP: 2-J....

Tex is on his feet, and is understandably thrilled to see this.


The table is cheering Tex on. It appears Lee pushed one time too many.


Three Jacks in a row gives Tex quads! The table is in an uproar, while Lee is slumped in disbelief. (Notice we would have had a full house at this point, yet would have been doomed.)


A full house is on the board. But the extra Jack gives Tex a huge pot, while kicking Lee out of the game. Tex was still playing, when we were eliminated.

MINISTRY MOMENT: We showed a new female player our "Jesus as your Savior" coin tonight. "Do you agree with that message?" we asked.

"Yes. Definitely."

"Have you accepted Jesus as your Savior?" This is a question we admittedly haven't asked much at the table -- an "all-in" question in its own way. Happily, the woman said she had.

UPDATED POKER SCOREBOARD: 55 final tables in 136 nights (40.4%) - 10 cashes.

NATIONAL LEAGUE OF POKER TOTAL: Five-player sit-n-goes - 3-7-3-1-0. Full tournaments - 9 final tables in 153 games (5.9%), no cashes.

POKER STARS.NET TOTAL: $10,485 - up $123, all from pretend cash games. (No tournaments.)

Mind Over Money

The American Psychiatric Association is proposing gambling addiction be considered a "mental disorder." If you feel compelled to play poker cash games night after night, this could describe you.

We realize there are many opinions on this -- but for now, we think control of your poker interest is like controlling liquor. Some people are able to handle things in moderation (Philippians 4:5, KJV), while others cannot.

If you're not sure how moderate you are, this article might be able to help you.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

By Any Other Name

We told you earlier this week about the young woman at our poker table who brought the ancient Greek god of wine, Dionysus. And we quoted a warning from the true God to Moses in Exodus 23:13. "Do not invoke the names of other gods; do not let them be heard on your lips."

Does this mean the woman sinned by saying.... uh.... the D-word? This is where we sometimes might not want to take the Bible 100-percent literally.

Do a concordance check for the word "Baal" and you'll find it appears in the King James Bible more than 60 times. If a minister or worship leader simply read the Bible aloud, would he violate the warning of Exodus 23?

If so, then Elijah broke that warning when he challenged a crowd: "If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him." (I Kng. 18:21) Yet God answered Elijah's prayer later in the chapter with a victorious and certain confirmation (verse 38) -- not punishment for saying the wrong name.

If all scripture is "given by inspiration of God" (II Tim. 3:16, KJV), we're led to conclude the warning of Exodus 23 is not an absolute for us today. After all, the Bible says the Lord is supposed to be a stumbling stone (Isa. 8:13-14) -- not the names of embedded false gods, which also appear in scripture under God's inspiration.

So you don't have to scold another poker player who might bring up Baal, Zeus, Dionysus or some other false god. But that moment might open a door for you to explain the One real God -- as we tried to do.

By the way: did you know the name Dionysius appears in the Bible? We found it in Acts 17:34 -- for a man who converted to Christianity at the preaching of Paul, and may have become a bishop in the first-century church at Athens. There's nothing in the New Testament to indicate he changed his name.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

On the Other Hand....

To read this sermon from a Seventh-Day Adventist pastor in southern California, we're in the wrong business. He's against Christians playing poker at all -- which means he'd probably be against a poker ministry as well.

We plan to use this message for Bible study in the coming days, and prepare a response to it. In the meantime, what do you think of it?

Monday, February 8, 2010

Poker Night 135: Room at the Top

Sometimes the biggest isn't always the best -- whether you're at the used car lot or the poker table. So when a moderately big hand comes our way, we tend to be skeptical. Take this one, from tonight's game at Club Eighty-Five....

BLINDS: 100/200

IN THE POCKET: A-Q offsuit

We've just sat down at a table where several players are betting big, and talking about as large. Sitting in the middle of the order, we decide to limp and simply call. Several others join in.


A woman across from us bets 200. With top pair and top kicker, we raise to 400. She calls, and two other players remain with us.


Oops -- now the door is wide-open for a straight. Everyone checks, including us. But is someone hiding a 9?


If that 9 was hiding, it doesn't matter now. The play checks to us again -- and holding the "Broadway" straight, we bet 1,200 in the hope that will tempt some people with lesser hands to call. Two people do, and they're left disappointed.

We only gained one or two small pots after that -- yet we hung on to make the final table for the fifth Monday night in a row! But we arrived there with a short stack, and our last-gasp all-in try with 8-8 was topped by a man making Q's and 4's. We finished eighth, but continued quite a Monday run.

MINISTRY MOMENT: "The poker gods are not with me," a young woman to our left complained as she folded a hand. She seemed to be a newcomer to poker, yet she lasted until the semifinal tables.

"I believe there's one God," we told her. The young woman looked over our "Jesus as your Savior" coin which we use for a card protector.

"Do you agree with that message?" we asked after she gave it back.

"Yes," she answered -- then made perhaps the most literate comment we've ever heard at a poker table. "My god is Dionysius."

The woman pointed to her mixed drink -- and indeed, she knew what she was talking about. That name is a form of Dionysus, the god of wine in ancient Greece. She was joking, of course. But the reference was absolutely unexpected. (Yes, we had to double-check it in a dictionary.)

But here's a Bible verse to think about, as you consider what this woman said. Exodus 23:13 says, "Do not invoke the names of other gods; do not let them be heard on your lips." So did this woman sin by bringing up Dionysius? We'll address that in an upcoming post -- and be warned, it'll be both deep and thought-provoking.

UPDATED POKER SCOREBOARD: 55 final tables in 135 nights (40.7%) - 10 cashes.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

All-In with Sin

We admittedly miss the NBC poker challenge, which used to appear on the Sunday of the Super Bowl. Sometimes that was more interesting for us than the football game.

If you miss it as well, maybe this can make it up for you a little. Recently we played online against a man with the name "floodofsins." This obviously inspired us to start a conversation, after he won a nice pot:

beaker0021: your sins are paying off
Me: I try to keep clean of sins....
floodofsins: more sins the better
beaker0021: sorryhad nothing
Me: At the end of it all, I want none.
Me: Thankfully I have help with that.

We don't know if this player was joking about wanting "more sins." But in the long run, people who keep their sin record clean are going to be better off.

"The wages of sin is death," Romans 6:23 warns. "All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God," Romans 3:23 adds. So the Bible says we're doomed to die. But the good news is that all hope is not lost.

"While we were still sinners," Christ died for us." (Romans 5:8) Why would the Son of God do this? Galatians 1:4 answers, " rescue us from the present evil age...."

Where will believers land when the final rescue comes? Read the rest of Romans 6:23: "....the gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord." A resurrection is promised for believers, so they "will be with the Lord forever." (I Thes. 4:17)

Would you like to be rescued from a "flood of sins," to be with a loving God for all eternity? That's admittedly a huge promise to grasp at first reading. If you'd like help in understanding the finer points of it, leave a comment -- we'll be glad to help you.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Thanks for linking

For the first time, we've found a blog linking to this one! Thank you (we think) to the blog titled "Nothing to See Here!"

If you've found us through a link somewhere else in cyberspace, please let us know where that link is. We'd consider it a compliment.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Poker night 134: Moments of Truth

We don't watch Poker After Dark very often these days, but the opening used to have these words of wisdom from Doyle Brunson: "When luck shuts the door, you've got to come in through the window." Examples of this came our way on back-to-back hands tonight at Lil Kim's Cove.

Early losses and bad cards had us playing tight, so with about 4,400 chips we took a chance on Q-8 of diamonds. A Queen on the flop allowed to bet, and chase all but one other player away. An Ace on the turn led us to check, and our opponent did as well. A third Queen hit the river, and our opponent cursed loudly when we went all in.

"I knew I should have gone all in on that Ace!" he said showing a second Ace. Would we have folded? Hmmmm -- hard to say. But he folded to our big bet, to help us recover about 2,000 chips. Then came the next challenge:

BLINDS: 200/400

IN THE POCKET: King of spades - 9 of hearts

We're in the small blind, and no one raises around us. We call to give it a try.

ON THE FLOP: Kh-8c-2c

Top pair looks good, so we lead off with a bet of 600. About three other players call.


Now we have two pair, so turn up the heat and bet 1,200. A man across from us calls.

"I'm all-in," another player across from us then announces. Uh-oh. Only at that moment do we realize three clubs are showing. This man has a huge stack of chips, so he could take us out. We stop and ponder this for a moment.

"I can't go there," we say -- folding in fear of a flush. The man who called our earlier bet calls again.

"Good call," the big pusher says. Oh no -- have we been duped?


"I have two pair," the pusher announces. He has 9-8 -- but no clubs.

"Owwwww!" we say out loud. No one had a club flush. The all-in bet merely represented a flush. We folded a higher two-pair.

Yet that big bettor wound up pushing one time too many, and left the tournament well before we did. Waiting for timely hands paid off for us again, as we reached the final table and finished fourth! We walked home disappointed with how our night ended: a 4-9 in the big blind, then an all-in push with a 10-9-6 flop. A woman simply holding a 10 had us topped -- and we felt like we gave up too soon.

MINISTRY MOMENT: Early in the evening, a woman holding a 6 took a pot with three of a kind. You know: 6-6-6.

"You had a beast," we said jokingly to the woman -- borrowing a line our regular tournament director likes to use.

The woman's husband next to her responded: "Those are just numbers. They don't mean anything." He explained some people consider them superstitious -- for instance, refusing to accept $6.66 in change.

"Someday they're going to mean something," we said. Why did we say that? Because the numbers come right out of the Bible.

"Here is wisdom," Revelation 13:18 says in the New American Standard Bible. "Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for the number is that of a man, and his number is six hundred and sixty-six."

A lot of people claim they have the wisdom to explain what that number means. A simple web search for 666 will prove that. If you'd like to offer your theory about it, leave a comment and we'll consider it.

But we agree with the man in a way -- that some people are superstitious about the number 666. We contend that number by itself can't hurt you. And that's not what you should ultimately fear.

"Fear him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him." Jesus issued that warning in Luke 12:5 (NIV) -- and John 5:22 shows God the Father has given the power of "all judgment" to Jesus the Son. So what do you fear most? A flush on the turn? A set of numbers? Or the coming King of Kings?

UPDATED POKER SCOREBOARD: 54 final tables in 134 nights (40.3%) - 10 cashes. It's nice to climb back above the 40-percent mark again! Five top-ten finishes in the last six nights have done it.

NATIONAL LEAGUE OF POKER TOTAL: Full tournaments - 9 final tables in 139 games (6.5%), no cashes. We came close earlier in the day, coming in 12th out 239 players.

POKERSTARS.NET TOTAL: One-table sit-n-goes: 1-1-0-1-1-4-0-0-1. (We finally won one Sunday!) Cash games: $10,362, down $330. (The sit-n-go win is included in the total, the loss was actually in cash games.)

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

What Do You Have to Do?

Have you ever asked that question when you're dealt hand after hand of unplayable cards? Or maybe after you go all-in with a flush, only to find another player "has the nuts?"

We're actually asking this question in the context of our last post -- the man who had to do certain things to be allowed back in a Catholic church. We don't know what those things were, but he hadn't done them yet.

Some religious groups make up all sorts of rules -- whether to be baptized, confirmed, ordained or simply get inside the door. But the Bible shows to be part of God's family, it's really not that complicated.

"You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus," Paul writes in Galatians 3:26. But the next verse there's more to it than simply saying that in a sentence, while your head is bowed: "....for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ."

So baptism matters -- and so does something else. "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." (Acts 2:38)

Repentance means more than confessing sin and wrong. Consider the words of Paul again: "I preached that they should repent and turn to God and prove their repentance by their deeds." (Acts 26:20)

Galatians 5:22-23 will give you a good start toward understanding what sort of mind and heart those deeds involve. Look them over, examine yourself -- and ask that question at the top of this post. Maybe you need to do something. If not to be part of a congregation, then to be a child of God.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Poker Night 133: Mr. Big Threat

"I consider you a threat," said the man sitting to our left tonight at Club Eighty-Five. He meant that as a compliment. The man has determined we play "ultra-conservative" poker, being careful with our cards while others show up simply to bet at anything. Was he right, and would it work?

BLINDS: 50/100


We're in the small blind, looking at a big hand. Other players call to us, and we raise 200. But then Mr. Big Blind (the man who called us a threat) raises 500 more. We call, as do a couple of others.


All around our cards, but not quite there. "Check to the raiser," we say going first. The raiser surprises us a bit by checking. Everyone else checks as well.


There's the connection! We bet 700, and the raiser expresses frustration -- in part because the dealer is a bit sloppy with the deck in his hands.

"I saw the bottom card," he says, "and lost one of my outs." We hadn't seen it, but the raiser admits it was a 9. Then he shows us 9-9 and folds. Others fold as well, giving us the pot.

Were we conservative there? Well, we made a measured bet on purpose. Our opponent might have been hiding a Jack or a King. Thankfully, he wasn't.

Several nice pots came our way after that -- and we made it to the final table for the fourth Monday night in a row! Entering with 23,500 chips, we went all-in with 20,000 remaining on A-Q. But a man who had been hitting several big hands turned over A-K, and wound up eliminating us. We finished tied for fifth, with another all-in player.

MINISTRY MOMENT: We changed card protectors tonight to a small bottle of Liquid Paper. A man to our right asked about it right away.

"That's to remind me," we answered, "that Jesus can wash me whiter than snow." (Isaiah 1:18-20)

"Good." The man didn't want to discuss it further -- except to explain why. "I'm a Catholic. I believe in God. But I keep it to myself."

We asked which church the man attended, and unwittingly went deeper into a spiritual sore. This man may have been told to leave the congregation (we didn't quite hear him clearly), but he had to do certain things to be invited back -- things he hadn't done yet. We're not sure if that included the cigarettes he was smoking and the beer he drank (a rarity for him, he said).

What do you think of this man's situation? We'll offer our thoughts in an upcoming post.

UPDATED POKER SCOREBOARD: 53 final tables in 133 nights (39.8%) - 10 cashes.