Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Risk Number 2

Uh-oh -- our latest attempt at cash game poker didn't turn out as well as the first two. It happened Sunday at a poker room in central Florida.

Money invested: $40.

High total: $62.

Low total: $0.

As you might expect, we got out at the bottom.

Much more on this is coming in a few days....

Friday, September 24, 2010

The Lord's Big Move

The online game was going well, and we had won a few pots. And that led to this chat exchange....

chelsea14305: what does PTL mean
Me: Glad you asked. Praise the Lord!
TankMarine: LOL
Dealer: Ken007 wins Side Pot 2 ($7056) with Three of a kind, deuces
Me: I think He's worthy. How about you?
Fay: Does he play poker
Dealer: Ken007 wins Side Pot 1 ($25200) with Three of a kind, deuces
Dealer: Ken007 wins Main Pot ($26465) with Three of a kind, deuces
Me: God went all-in in a different way
Rumorr: Halleleuia
TankMarine: lol
Me: With His Son.

A few believers are lingering around the poker table -- along with (perhaps) a few laughing scoffers. Starting from the top: the idea of praising the Lord did not start with church meetings after Jesus was resurrected.

For great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; he is to be feared above all gods. -- I Chronicles 16:25

This is from a "psalm of thanks" prepared by the ancient King David (verse 7). So believe it or not, even Torah-keeping Jews can say "praise the Lord!" And as for that "all-in" move of God....

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. -- John 3:16

The first few verses of John indicate Jesus the Son lived with the Father in eternity past. Other Scriptures show they're together again in heaven now. And Jesus promises to come again, to make a glorious reunion with His followers.

We're away from our regular blogging schedule for a few days, because we're celebrating that coming reunion. The week-long Biblical Feast of Tabernacles is kept at scattered locations around the world. If you're interested in learning what it's all about, click on the link or do an online search for "Feast of Tabernacle locations" -- as there could be one near you.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

We took a risk....

....and played cash game Texas Hold 'em on a cruise ship casino the last two nights. (We needed some profits, because a vacation is costing more than we expected.)

Night one: Entered with $30 - left the table with $78!

Night two: Entered with $30 -- left two hours later with $31.

More details coming soon....

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Hope Diamond (or maybe a club)

Our last post talked about the perils of hoping for a big hand in poker. It happens a lot during a tournament. Ask anyone who's ever been on an open-ended straight draw, or held two pair at the turn with dreams of a full house.

We heard a deceased minister explain the other day in a taped radio program it's one thing to hope for one million dollars -- but you usually have to work to get it. Yet the Bible shows hope isn't wrong. In fact....

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. -- Romans 15:13

God's Spirit is designed to fill you with hope -- and then some! Not for a "Broadway straight" necessarily, but for the return of Jesus. (Verse 12 at least hints at that.) And for what will occur when He comes again....

....the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. -- Colossians 1:27

Believers hope to gain something glorious beyond this human existence:

But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body. -- Philippians 3:20-21

Poker players don't know for sure if the winning card will come on the river. But believers in Jesus need faith that He will come again -- for what one old-time preacher called in a sermon "Payday Someday."

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Poker Night 194: Hope-Less?

Some poker players are called "rocks," because they play in a tight conservative way. Others are more daring and unpredictable. We faced one of those players tonight, as we changed our routine to play at Soho Bar and Grill....

BLINDS: 25/50

IN THE POCKET: K of spades - 10 of hearts

The night is young, but the betting at this table has been large. A player to our right raises to 200. We have about 5,500 chips, and decide to give this iffy hand (at least for us) a try.

ON THE FLOP: A-6-3, all spades

Our "iffy" now looks potentially pretty -- as we're one spade away from "the nut flush." The man who raised before now bets 600. We suspect he has an Ace, but we call in hope.


There's a pair for us, but not quite what we're after. The bettor now counts out 1,600. Does he have A-K or something? We fear he has big cards, but the hope of a nut flush remains. We call.


"Hope deferred makes the heart sick," says Proverbs 13:12. We miss the flush, but still have two pair. Yet the bettor is undaunted, and tosses out 3,000 -- a bet which practically would put us all-in. We conclude he has an Ace, and fold.

Another player calls -- and the man who bet a lot shows Q-J. His high hopes fell short, too! The third man has one pair, and claims the pot. We would have won thousands of chips, but Mr. Unpredictable ran us off. There's much more to be said about the hopes of this hand; we'll do that in an upcoming post.

MINISTRY MOMENT: We showed a man to our left the "Jesus as your Savior" coin tonight. He said he agreed with the message -- and at the one-hour "color-up" break, he showed graciousness toward our meager chip stack and gave us enough to advance from 1,000 to 1,500!

(Trouble is, we pushed all-in immediately after the break with A-9 -- and even though A-7 came on the flop, we lost to that big bettor with 7-7 who made three of a kind.)

UPDATED POKER SCOREBOARD: 82 final tables in 194 nights (42.3%) - 15 cashes. We should note another commitment may keep us from playing any live poker for the next couple of weeks.

NATIONAL LEAGUE OF POKER TOTAL: Full tournaments - 76 point wins in 407 games (18.7%), 31 final tables, 2 cashes. Our strong afternoon "turbo tourney" run ended Tuesday, after seven point wins in a row.

POKER STARS.NET TOTAL: Pretend cash games - $16,259, up $1,575. The run isn't over there, with gains in eight consecutive sessions.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Out of Bounds

As the weekly championship of National League of Poker unfolded Sunday night, an opening came for an uplifting discussion. From the online chat:

Lollipop: lets get wiskey bent n hell bound
Me: One of those is a country band.
Lollipop: lol
yaketty_yak: woohoo now thats an idea lol
Me: The other.... I'd rather see Jesus someday....
yaketty_yak: good answer flopb
Lollipop: lol
yaketty_yak: i just want a starter lol
Me: Thank you. Hopefully it's everyone's answer. :-)

This may sound strange, but the King James Bible indicates everyone is "hell bound." That "H-word" does not refer to Dante's Inferno, though....

Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices; my flesh shall also rest in hope. For you will not leave my soul in hell; neither will you suffer your Holy One to see corruption. -- Psalm 16:9-10

What is King David talking about here? The Hebrew word for "hell" here actually can be translated "the world of the dead" or "grave" (translated that way in Psalm 88:3 and Ecclesiastes 9:10, among other places). So David is expressing hope of a resurrection from the dead. And that's when believers will see Jesus -- one way or another:

And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. -- John 14:3

Come to think of it, these words of Christ remind us of poker. He'll "see us" when He returns -- and "raise us" from the dead!

In fact, John 5:28-30 indicates everyone will be resurrected -- some to eternal life, and some to a judgment of condemnation. We'd rather see Jesus under happier circumstances. Now that's really a "good answer."

Monday, September 13, 2010

Poker Night 193: Speaking Too Soon

Playing a bit more aggressively has helped us lately online -- as we've earned points in the last seven afternoon tournaments we've entered. But in a live game where people play for free, pushing the envelope can be troublesome. It put us in a hole tonight at The Red Barn -- and then came this:

BLINDS: 200/400

IN THE POCKET: Ace of hearts - King of Clubs

We haven't won a pot all night, and have about 2,400 chips. So it's time to take a stand -- and after the first player in order calls the blind, we raise to 1,000. Three other players call it.

ON THE FLOP: 8c-5d-4c

That figures - we missed the flop. But in a hopeful sign, the table checks.


The good news is that we have a flush draw. The bad news is that a player across the table bets 1,000 -- a bet that would put us almost all-in. A woman next to him calls. Then to borrow from Madonna, it's "truth or dare" time for us. We think a moment -- and we're thinking the bettor may have hit a big hand already.

"This is simply not my night," we decide. "I'll fold."


Arrrrghhh! Not only did a card for the flush come through, none of the other players in the hand had a club. A pair of jacks winds up winning the pot.

"You should've hung in there," a woman who lost the hand says after seeing what we folded. That's easy for her to say. We admittedly went by the trend of the night for us, and made a pessimistic decision which cost us a big comeback. We were eliminated moments later when we pushed with A-10 of hearts, and lost to three 4's.

MINISTRY MOMENT: Nothing really happened tonight - but we're working on a topic to be posted here Tuesday.

UPDATED POKER SCOREBOARD: 82 final tables in 193 nights (42.5%) - 15 cashes.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

NLOP Championship 7: Mountain Cllimbing

We're on an amazing run in the afternoon "turbo tourney" at National League of Poker -- finishing in the points (top ten percent) six games in a row! Five of them this past week were top-20 finishes, out of about 500 players. Two of the five were final tables! So we earned more than enough points to qualify for tonight's weekly championship tournament -- and it was quite a fight:

:24 IN: Several early feelers with moderate hands have been overwhelmed, leaving us in the big blind with 550 chips. We have Q-J and call -- then feel compelled to push when the flop is Q-Q-9. A player calls with two clubs, and he makes a flush on the river. But it's the Jack of clubs -- so we escape with a full house, and a bounce back to 1,100.

:42 IN: We've been diminished to 550 again, and hold 7-7 in the big blind. When a player raises, we go all-in. The flop is 3-6-8. But then 6-9 come -- and a straight on the river saves us, to win $1,500!

:55 IN: Again in the big blind, we have 3-5 of hearts. When a player raises, we fold a potential all-in bet -- and sadly, the flop is 3-5-9.

1:00 IN: We're down to 125 skinny chips, with an ante taking 50 of them off the top. We push with Kh-Jc. The flop gives us top pair with Jh-4h-9c. Then hearts come running on the turn and river, giving us a flush to return to 800.

At the one-hour break, we're still pedalling uphill -- but still have 700 chips, with 243 players left from a starting field 1,382.

1:12 IN: We're about to face a make-or-break big blind with only 450 chips -- but the NLOP computer moves us to another table. Thank you!

1:14 IN: We push our remaining 300 chips with Q-9 of diamonds. The flop is 9-5-9! Then a 5 on the river gives us another full house, and we're back to 1,275.

1:16 IN: We dare to play J-10 of diamonds, even after a player doubles the minimum bet to 1,200. The flop is 9-Q-2, with the Queen a diamond. We push all-in with an open-ended straight draw -- and are handsomely rewarded when Kd comes on the turn! We win a $4,650 pot, and finally have some breathing room.

1:19 IN: We have A-Q in the big blind and limp in. When A-3-J come on the flop, we bet 800 -- and the only player remaining in the hand folds. With antes added, we're up to $6,350!

1:23 IN: We have 9-8 of clubs, and still want to get into hands small. We call, as do a couple of other players.

ON THE FLOP: 7c-9d-6c

It's top pair -- and an open-ended draw for a straight flush! An opponent with a huge stack then bets $11,111. With a lot of options at our disposal, we call to put us all in. The opponent shows K-Q, so we're in the lead.


Now we've lost the lead -- but we can still win the hand with a club, 5, 9 or 10. By our count, that's an outstanding 19 "outs" out of 44 possible cards in the deck. And we've come back from the brink before tonight....


....Only not this time. High hopes fall short, and we finish in 119th place. Only the top 12 win money in this tournament -- but in a casino, we would have claimed a payday for a top ten-percent finish.

(There was a Ministry Moment in this tournament, but we'll hold that for another post.)

Sunday Rewind: Say and Do

In our last post, we mentioned how a Tournament Director who professes to be a Christian flew off the handle at one of the players. He used language you'd normally never hear inside a church building -- then explained he had to show he wouldn't back down from a challenge.

It's one thing to stand your ground during a poker game, and not back down. But it's another thing to do it in a way which sets a bad example of Christ. Consider the Lord's classic advice:

But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also.... Do to others as you would have them do to you. -- Luke 6:27-31

We know plenty of believers who try to talk their way around these verses. They've admitted to us they'd run away, to avoid that second blow on the cheek. Even some ministers seem to have problems living by these words; the scheduling of a "Burn a Koran Day" this weekend comes to mind.

But Jesus actually lived by the advice He gave....

When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. -- I Peter 2:23

You could concern yourself with how you look before other poker players. Or you can serve a higher-ranking "Director" -- even if you wind up looking like a wimp for it.

For we know him who said, "It is mine to avenge; I will repay.... It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God." -- Hebrews 10:30-31

Yet believers can leave the tense and testy matters in God's hands. They're the best hands of all, you know.

A longtime pastor of ours likes to say: "The only religion you have is the one you live." Or as football coach Jimmy Johnson loved to put it: Are you merely talking the talk -- or walking the walk?

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Poker Night 192: Heavy Losses

We were in a sad mood as we played poker tonight (read the reason why below) -- and admittedly, that could have affected our decisions on an unusual Tuesday night visit to The Red Barn. We played hands which were a bit more marginal than usual. And in the first hour, they went like this one....

BLINDS: 25/50

IN THE POCKET: 2-6 of spades

The blinds are small. The cards are suited. We'll take a chance on it. Most of the table calls.


We make two pair, and decide to see how others did. We do this by betting 500. A woman calls; everyone else folds.


Now we have a full house! Very nice -- but when we bet 500 this time, the woman calls again. Does she have a high pocket pair?


This time we make a cautious check -- and the woman bets 5,000, which would put us all-in.

"Get a gold chip ready," a player between us says to the Tournament Director. He's half-joking, but we know what he means. House rules award a 5,000-chip bonus for making quads. Our "house" is not feeling anything like home sweet home.

"Everything is telling me to fold this," we say after a moment, "so I'll fold." We show the 6. Sure enough, the woman has A-10 for quad Aces.

We staggered to the one-hour break with only 1,200 chips. But after the break, we were dealt Q-Q to make a big gain. Then came A-A in the pocket, and a man in the big blind folded his cards even before a flop was dealt. But A-9 proved our undoing -- forced to go all-in in the small blind, and losing to a man with two pair. We fell one player short of our sixth final table in a row, finishing tenth.

MINISTRY MOMENT: Several weeks ago, we mentioned the fellow player with his own Christ-centered "card protector" coin. He's now Tournament Director at The Red Barn -- and at one point tonight, he got into a loud argument with another man. In fact, he used some language we would never post here.

We got his attention moments later and said nothing we never imagined we'd say. "One Christian already has been killed in this city today. We don't need another one."

We'll comment more about the Director's response and his overall tone in another post. But that killing earlier in the day is why we were sad -- as the morning host at a Christian radio station in our city was found shot and killed in his driveway. We mentioned it to a woman at our table, who hadn't heard the news.

"That's why I'm saying 'Thy Kingdom come," we said to the woman. In fact, Jesus told followers to say those words in His model prayer (Matthew 6:10). When Christian DJ's are gunned down on a sunny afternoon, it should be clear God's Kingdom has not come yet.

(Read more of our thoughts on this in the 8 September post at our other blog, The Blog of Columbus.)

As it happens, our second poker night of the week was moved up this week because of an event celebrating the coming of God's Kingdom. Wednesday night is Rosh Hashanah for Jews, who mark the Jewish New Year. Some Christians will mark the Feast of Trumpets, which some say points to the future trumpet blasts announcing the return of Jesus Christ. The news of the day reminded us Jesus can't come soon enough.

UPDATED POKER SCOREBOARD: 82 final tables in 192 nights (42.7%) - 15 cashes.

NATIONAL LEAGUE OF POKER TOTAL: Full tournaments -- 72 point wins in 397 games (18.1%), 30 final tables, 2 cashes. Our fifth-place finish in the afternoon "turbo tourney" Sunday has been followed by top-20 scores the last two days!

POKER STARS.NET TOTAL: Full tournaments -- 1 "point win" (unofficial) in 8 games (12.5%). Pretend cash games -- $14,684, up $1,205.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Poker Night 191: As Big As You Dare

You might say we spent part of Labor Day working. We tried to win money playing poker at The Red Barn. And with several players betting big like it was a holiday, we dared at one point to join in....

BLINDS: 100/200

IN THE POCKET: A-K offsuit

We're dealing, as we hold about 7,000 chips. The play calls to us, and we raise to 500. About four players decide to call.


We have "overcards" and a top straight draw. But as we said, people are betting big. When one man bets 200, a woman who sat down only a few hands ago raises 5,000. A woman next to her then goes all-in, raising 50 more. This would be a massive risk for us -- but something tells us they don't really have much. We play that hunch, and call.

It turns out our hunch was wrong. One woman has 6-6, and made three of a kind on the flop. The other woman has K-Q. Uh-oh....


Ahhh-ha! "That gives me a straight," we say as the dealer.


"I can't believe you called that with a draw," a man who folded after the flop says. It's admittedly not our nature -- but we joined the trend of the evening, and it paid off.

We didn't win many pots after that -- until the final table, which we held on to achieve with about 8,000 chips. Then we won a couple of all-in bets, and endured to finish third.

MINISTRY MOMENT: One young man at the final table told us he was playing in a live tournament for only the second time. After he was eliminated, we showed him our "Jesus as your Savior" card protector coin.

"Apparently it's working for you," he said. Wellll -- it's not the coin that's doing the work....

Jesus said to them, "My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I, too, am working." -- John 5:17

Jesus did the greatest work for all humankind, by giving His life for us. Now that was a "Labor Day" unlike any other.

UPDATED POKER SCOREBOARD: 82 final tables in 191 nights (42.9%) - 15 cashes. We're on a streak of five final tables in a row!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Ranked in the Top Five

We're not talking U.S. college football. We're talking about where we placed in a Sunday afternoon "turbo tourney" at National League of Poker -- and a top-five finish earned us money there for the second time!

This was a tournament with 484 players -- and a couple of timely pushes gave us big gains. But we also received (some would say) a couple of "big breaks."

Holding A-8 with 640 chips left, another player doubled the blind to 600. We went all-in with the last 40 -- and the raiser then inexplicably folded! An 8 on the board topped one other player, to restore us above 2,000.

We were atop the standings with 21 players left, at 56,380 chips. But we were much lower when we reached the final table -- and only the top five players earned money. But we held on while two players pushed and failed. Then with steep antes, the moment of truth came....

BLINDS: 8,000/16,000/1600 ante

IN THE POCKET: J-2 of diamonds

We're in the big blind, and entered the hand with only around 18,000 chips left. So there's little choice -- we raise all-in, for an extra 2,000 or so. Three of the remaining seven players are in the hand, two of them all-in with us. Sadly for us, the big stack has Q-Q.

ON THE FLOP: 5d-Jc-7c

We hoped for diamonds -- and top pair on the board isn't good enough.


It looks pretty bleak for us....


"Whoa!" we write in surprise. We make two pair on the river, to win the main pot of $75,480! The two others who went all-in are eliminated, and we sit "in the money" -- and adding a hearty "PTL!"

We were eliminated a few minutes later in fifth place -- but still won ten dollars (first paid 50). It's our first cash win at NLOP since May. And in terms of weekly points, an "investment" of 500 paid off more than 13,000.

Life Among the Beasts

Play poker often enough, and certain combinations of numbers and/or letters become familiar. Some of them can be downright Biblical. One recent example online came when someone took a pot with three 6's:

MadInfluence: 666
Dealer: MadInfluence wins Side Pot 1 ($1280) with Three of a kind, sixes
Dealer: MadInfluence wins Main Pot ($2850) with Three of a kind, sixes
Me: He had a beast
MadInfluence: that was the devils hand
Me: Indeed.
Me: Just keep it off your forehead. :-)
MadInfluence: and when you are hot the devil isnt far
Me: Better to be hot than lukewarm.
Me: So Revelation says.
MadInfluence: lol
MadInfluence: right on

What are we talking about? The answer is in the Biblical book of Revelation, which refers to a prophetic beast....

He also forced everyone, small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on his right hand or on his forehead, so that no one could buy or sell unless he had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of his name.... it is man's number. His number is 666 -- Revelation 13:16-18

Many have speculated (or even made outright claims) about what this "mark of the beast" might be. We won't list any of them here, so no one accuses us of promoting a pet theory. But from what we can tell, it is not present worldwide yet.

How can you avoid that mark? One key might lie in what we wrote in response to the winning hand. It comes from another section of Revelation....

I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm -- neither hot not cold -- I am about to spit you out of my mouth. -- Revelation 3:15-16

Verse 14 shows these words are written to a church, so the "deeds" seem to be spiritual in nature. If those deeds are filled with the Holy Spirit's fire (see Acts 2), they'll be hot in God's behalf.

To borrow from a religious magazine article we read the other day, are you a "lip service" Christian? Or are you truly committed to the cause of Jesus Christ, living the way He lived?

If you're asking God for the Holy Spirit each day to help you live that life, then you might able to have what we mentioned in another online hand recently -- when someone made a $666 bet, and we called it:

Me: Beast of a bet
Dealer: flopblogger wins Main Pot ($7080) with Straight, seven to jack
Me: Power to overcome the beast. :-)

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Poker Night 190: Strangely at Random

A few big timely hands helped us reach the final table tonight, for the fourth live tournament in a row. We ended tied for eighth (ninth in points), when K-Q lost to a woman with J-5 when she hit two pair on the flop. But we're deferring to a hand at Lil Kim's Cove which was borderline ridiculous....

BLINDS: 1,000/2,000

IN THE POCKET: We don't remember - we folded it!

Standard calling is happening, until a man in the small blind to our right asks a woman to our left how many chips she has left. She covers them up protectively, then shows 5,000. The man doesn't seem to grasp this, and raises 10,000. The woman goes into the tank.

"I'm not really sure I want to do this," she admits. Others at the table of six start urging her to call. (We say nothing.) Finally the woman slowly places her 5,000 on the table to call.

She shows A-9. The man confidently shows A-10. Then the dealer deals all five cards for the board face down, and spreads them.

"Show that one first," the man with A-10 says pointing to the middle card. What happens next is a scene from The Price is Right. The man points to cards at random to be turned over, in a ridiculous moment of drama.

As best we recall, the order of the cards came up: 6-4-5-2-3.

"It's a straight!" several of us say in amazement. But hold it.

"She has a straight flush!" Sure enough -- the 2-3-4-5 are spades, and the woman holds the Ace of spades. She wins the pot, and the confident man is left in mourning for several minutes.

MINISTRY MOMENT: Nothing really happened tonight, primarily because we sat around familiar people. We've shown them our Jesus coin and asked them about their Savior before -- which leads to a question we knew eventually would come. How do you keep the conversation going, when you've already used your main "tool" for witnessing?

The apostle Paul may have been in this predicament long ago, at Mars' Hill in Athens. But he looked around and found something to use....

For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO AN UNKNOWN GOD. Now what you worship as something unknown I am going to proclaim to you. -- Acts 17:23

Paul went on to present a short message about repentance, and a resurrected "man he has appointed" (verse 31). We've used various things at bars over the years, to bring up that man called Jesus -- from the coin protectors we take to music playing on a jukebox. We missed bringing up a fitting song tonight: "Bless the Broken Road" by Rascal Flatts. Maybe it will inspire you.

UPDATED POKER SCOREBOARD: 81 final tables in 190 nights (42.6%) - 15 cashes.

NATIONAL LEAGUE OF POKER TOTAL: Five-player sit-n-goes - 6-11-6-3-2. Full tournaments - 69 point wins in 390 games (17.7%), 29 final tables, 1 cash.

POKER STARS.NET TOTAL: Full tournaments - 1 point win (unofficial) in 7 games (14.3%). Pretend cash games - $13,479, up $185.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Chance Card

At our Monday night poker tournament, a man talked about living his life by "playing the cards as they're dealt" -- apparently as opposed to letting God rule his life.

Plenty of people do that. In fact, King Solomon wrote about how the dealing of cards can seem unfair at times:

I have seen something else under the sun: The race is not to the swift or the battle to the strong, nor does food come to the wise or wealth to the brilliant or favor to the learned; but time and chance happen to them all. -- Ecclesiastes 9:11

(For instance: how many people with Ph.D's have you seen holding up huge lottery checks?)

"Time and chance" have come in the way of many poker players' grand dreams. Ask anyone whose pocket Aces were cracked by someone holding two small diamonds and hitting a flush.

But we've also seen times (and recorded some here) where big poker comebacks happened seemingly without our even trying. We could dismiss those moments to "time and chance," or perhaps some sort of karma. But the person of faith sees a higher hand in it all.

Those the Lord blesses will inherit the land, but those he curses will be cut off.... The salvation of the righteous comes from the Lord; he is their stronghold in time of trouble. The Lord helps them and delivers them.... -- Psalm 37:22, 29-30

This salvation is in an ultimate sense, of course -- not necessarily winning a poker tournament, but gaining victory over an enemy called the "second death." That salvation comes through faith in Jesus Christ (Acts 4:12). Why take a chance of losing out on that?