Monday, November 29, 2010

Poker Night 211: Your Wheel Be Done

It was couples' night at The Red Barn -- at least at our table. We started with seven players, and we were the "single" surrounded by three husbands and wives (or at least boyfriend/girlfriend). We don't want to ruin any romances. We simply want to win....

BLINDS: 25/50

IN THE POCKET: 5-4 offsuit

We're in the big blind, with cards which are appealing solely because they're "connected." A man across the table raises to 150. That's modest enough; we join most of the table in calling.


Two big cards -- but hope for us, in the form of a straight draw. After we check, the man across from us makes a tempting continuation bet of 300. Most players at the table don't take the bait and fold. But the game is early, so we decide to take a chance and call.


We miss. We check. Our opponent probably would win the pot here with another bet, but he does us a favor by checking.


Wow -- the "wheel" straight rolls in! Now we want to bet, and we test whether our opponent is in a gambling mood by plunking down 1,100. He isn't, and folds. We never see what he had, but people are guessing about our cards.

"What did you have?" a man asks.

"Some'un," we quietly say with a smile.

We showed a "nut flush" a couple of hands later, to win an even bigger pot. But that was the last pot we won, as we held onto our chips far enough to reach the semifinal table. That's when we pushed all-in for 13,000 with A-10. The small blind called with 2-2 -- but our cards didn't come, and his little pair took a big pot to send us home in 12th place.

MINISTRY MOMENT: We know a few local players are catching on to our poker ministry. Consider what one man said when he saw us walk in tonight:

"Jesus, Jesus, He's our man! If He can't do it, no one can!"

We agreed with that man, of course -- and come to think of it, there are many things Jesus can do for you and me. Open question: what's the greatest thing Jesus ever did for you? We'll offer our answer in a future post.

UPDATED POKER SCOREBOARD: 86 final tables in 211 nights (40.8%) - 15 cashes.

Remember As You Play....

James, Peter and John, those reputed to be pillars, gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship when they recognized the grace given to me. -- Galatians 2:9

The Contemporary English Version translates this verse as Paul receiving "a friendly handshake." Of course, some people don't enter a poker tournament with a "friendly" mindset. They want to win -- period.

We went 2-2 in a Saturday night heads-up tournament, and were surprised by how our second win ended. We offered a handshake to our female opponent, and she declined -- saying something about "not shaking hands."

Here's the thing: she shook hands with us when the game began. It's not like we needed sanitizer after more than a dozen hands -- was it?

This made two times in four heads-up tournaments that a loser refused to shake our hand. And sadly, we think that reflects badly on them. It's a matter of simple courtesy -- and in this case, the realization that poker is merely a game.

Even pro hockey players traditionally shake hands after a playoff series -- and hockey is about as rough-and-tumble as a game can be. If they can calm down and act sportsmanlike, we think you can as well. It's a small way to show etiquette, and even walk the Christian walk.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Poker Night 210: Count Your Blessings

Pardon our lateness in posting this -- but due to Lil Kim's Cove being closed for Thanksgiving Day, we played in the Wednesday night tournament at Soho Bar and Grill. We actually checked before we left home, and found we'd made four final tables there in 22 tries. The "drive for five" had a bold beginning....

BLINDS: 25/50

IN THE POCKET: A-J offsuit

We're second in the betting order, and play by our credo: "Limp early, bet late." We call -- and unlike other early hands, so does most of the table.


We miss -- sort of. There's a "gutshot" straight draw. The table checks to us, and we're happy to join the wave. We're a bit relieved when the entire table checks.


Put us on Broadway! But we don't want to shine our neon light too much, so we check again. A player to our left bets 1,000. A man across the table calls. Good.

"I raise," we announce -- and add another 1,000. The man to our left thinks for a moment, smells trouble and folds. The man across from us calls.


As we recall, this put three clubs on the board. But we don't think our opponent is waiting for a flush, so we bet 2,000 directly at him. The man thinks it over for several seconds -- then disgusting throws his cards right in front of us. He has K-Q, but that's a two-pair fold. We never show how he was topped.

That big chip gain was followed by a lengthy drought -- but in the second hour, things happened. Another A-J led to two pair, and a double in our stack when we went all-in. A later push with K-Q of hearts led to a pair of Queens, which held up. Then we pushed with A-K of spades, made Aces and 3's and advanced our stack to 100,000.

We reached the final table with 115,000 chips -- then made a flush from J-9 of diamonds to jump to 225K! But then came a big loss and rising blinds. Forced to push again with A-7, we lost to a flush. But we went home feeling good -- as a fourth-place finish was our best since Labor Day.

MINISTRY MOMENT: "I'm ready to eat a drumstick," a man to our left said during the tournament.

"So what are you thankful for this year?" we asked. He proceeded to run down his Thanksgiving menu, as if he didn't understand our question.

"Soho Bar!" another man declared when we asked what made him thankful. A few minutes later, he revised that answer: "I'm thankful for every blessing of every day." Now that's more like it; see the post below this one for why we say that.

UPDATED POKER SCOREBOARD: 86 final tables in 210 nights (41.0%) -- 15 cashes. Three final tables in a row is a much more pleasant streak.

NATIONAL LEAGUE OF POKER TOTAL: Five-player sit-n-gos - 7-11-7-3-2. Full tournaments - 91 point wins in 485 games (18.4%), 37 final tables, two cashes.

We returned to sit-n-goes last weekend, hoping to gain enough points to make the Sunday night weekly championship. A first place finish helped; a third hurt.

POKER STARS.NET TOTAL: Full tournaments - three "top ten percent" finishes in 13 games (23.1%). Pretend cash games - $23,059, down $540.


It's Thanksgiving Day in the U.S. A perfect time to practice what we try to do every day in online poker games. Take this all-in moment from National League of Poker earlier in the week....

Dealer: flopblogger wins Main Pot ($3010) with Two pair, nines and sevens
Me: yes
NVJohn: yes
Me: PTL!
NVJohn: sorry what is ptl
Me: Glad you asked. Praise the Lord.

We think praising and thanking go hand-in-hand. After all, why would you praise God for something if you're not thankful for it? The writers of several psalms seemed to understand that....

Sing to the Lord, you saints of his; praise his holy name.... O Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever. -- Psalm 30:4, 12

King David put both ideas together, in a psalm we read aloud in our youth at Thanksgiving dinner:

Know that the Lord is God.... Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his gates with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. -- Psalm 100:3-4

We hope you take time to give thanks today -- not only to your family and close friends, but to the God who gave them all to you. And why not make every day Thanksgiving Day, praising God for the great and small blessings as they come?

Monday, November 22, 2010

Poker Night 209: The Season of Giving

"I found this gold chip behind your ear," the tournament director at The Red Barn said tonight. "You're not allowed to have chips behind your ears."

The director was playing a magic trick joke at our expense -- hiding a 5,000-dollar chip in his hand, as he tossed it into the third pot of the night. Considering the typical starting stack is 5,000, that's quite an incentive.

BLINDS: 25/50


We don't normally chase a big bonus prize with a marginal hand. But we're in the big blind, so our 50 is committed right off the bat -- and the table simply calls. Checking's free....

ON THE FLOP: 3-6-3

....and that flop potentially is priceless. The small blind checks, and we jump out with a bet of 600.

"600 on the 6," a man across the table says half-smiling. Not exactly -- but enough players think along those lines so that nearly the entire table folds. Only a young man who just turned 21 and is inside The Red Barn for the first time remains.


Why slow down now? We bet 700.

"Well, he could have a 3," the man across the table (who folded when we bet) now speculates. We say nothing. The young man still in the hand ponders it for a few seconds, then folds.

"I did have a 3," we say as we show. Gaining about 5,900 chips (including the gold chip) in one hand -- now that's truly a "big blind special."

We won a few early pots with good cards, then went dry for awhile. But a woman who quit the game in the second hour gave her large stack of chips for the table to divide, which helped us gained about 4,000. Then 4-4 turned into another three of a kind on the flop -- and we took out a man who pushed with two pair.

Those nice gains helped us cruise to the final table, but the cards ran out for us there. A desperation push with 3-4 of diamonds led to two diamonds on the flop, but no more. We were eliminated in sixth place -- but that was still satisfying, as it was our best tournament finish since Labor Day.

MINISTRY MOMENT: The tournament director noticed we wore a "WWJD" wristband tonight. "Where did you get that?" Rodney asked us.

We gave him a wrong answer at first, but corrected it after thinking for a while. LifeWay Christian Stores sell them for only $1.00 each. Perhaps one will help this director, who openly struggles to set a proper Christian example at times. We also plan to pray for Rodney; will you join us?

UPDATED POKER SCOREBOARD: 85 final tables in 209 nights (40.7%) - 15 cashes.

Deliver Us From Evil

Some online poker players bring curious names to the table. We faced one today at National League of Poker....

Dealer: DrEvil85 wins Main Pot ($555) with One pair, kings

But on the very next hand, Dr. Evil met his demise by losing an all-in bet. And that led to this chat....

Dealer: KEYZ wins Main Pot ($1310) with Straight, nine to king
Me: That's how you overcome evil.

Surprised? It threw us for a moment, too. But we were willing to jump right in....

Me: Good question! Son of God and Son of Man.
KEYZ: jeopardyAlex
Me: Aha....
Me: Still a good question :-)

We didn't realize for a moment a TV game show moment had broken out. But we certainly liked the way this player was thinking -- especially when he added:

KEYZ: My Lord and Savior
Me: Mine, too. Hope that's true for everyone here!
KEYZ: Indeed.

Keyz seemed surprised when we mentioned this poker ministry. But perhaps you're surprised at the "question" he put on our original answer. Consider these words from the apostle John....

We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin; the one who was born of God keeps him safe, and the evil one cannot harm him. -- I John 5:18

Who's who here? Other Bible translations indicate "the one who was born of God" refers to Jesus; the Contemporary English Version uses the phrase "God's own Son." The "evil one" isn't that online poker player -- but Satan the devil, based on Jesus's famous prayer....

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. -- Matthew 6:13

How can you be delivered from Satan and evil? By staying close to Jesus, God's "one and only Son" (as John 3:16 describes Him). The Christian's "Big Brother" has overcome sin, and He can help you do it as well.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

A Favor for Freerollers

7:30 pm UPDATE: We had our best showing in the Fox TV Challenge ever tonight! Our place was #2,167 out of 29,005 players -- a top ten-percent, which would have made us money at a casino. (But of course, only the top ten get paid in this freeroll.)

One more of these freerolls is on the schedule, 12 December. Well, actually TWO -- as PokerStars.Net had a 6pm and 8pm U.S. ET freeroll tonight. We found the same password works for both. But we have another commitment, so we're skipping a doubleheader.

= = =
First of all, the Poker Stars.Net Million Dollar Challenge Freeroll has been moved up two hours - to 6:00 p.m. U.S. ET.

And we're in a city which showed the Negreanu telecast early -- so here's the password: NAPT (all caps).

We might be able to play this after all. :-)

Getting It Straight

Saturday night was our best Heads-Up tournament showing at The Red Barn so far. We won our first three matches -- and had we won the fourth, we would have been guaranteed prize money (given to the top three finishers). Alas, we lost that fourth match and were eliminated in the losers bracket after that.

But one incident in the second match stood out for us -- and we hope it will for the man we played:

BLINDS: 200/400


We're in a healthy chip lead. Since we're not dealing, we post the big blind. And when a pocket pair comes, we jump on it -- but not too much, lest we scare our opponent away. We raise 400, and get a call.

ON THE FLOP: 9-8-7

With three of a kind, we decide to go for it -- putting our opponent all-in. After a moment, he calls and shows A-6. "I need a straight," he admits. (Or perhaps running Aces.)


So much for the running Aces.


"I didn't get it," our opponent says with resignation. Do you agree?

"But look -- you did get a straight," we point out. He was looking for the 6-10 straight, but hit a 5-9 straight instead!

Our opponent obviously was thankful that we pointed that out. "Honesty is the best policy," we told him.

"What?!?!?" some of you may be screaming at this point. Honesty -- in poker?? A game filled with bluffing? And in a format where bluffing probably works better than any other? Well, there's a Bible verse describing people like that....

To the pure, all things are pure, but to those who are corrupted and do not believe, nothing is pure. In fact, both their minds and consciences are corrupted. -- Titus 1:15

Keep a "poker face," shake hands with the alleged loser and start snickering after he walks out of the room -- and you probably have a corrupted conscience. But the Christian poker player is different. He realizes a "God-conscience" some call the Holy Spirit will nag at him later.

Pray for us. We are sure that we have a clear conscience and desire to live honorably in every way. -- Hebrews 13:18

Honor to us means fair play -- even if it hurts us. A heads-up game which could have ended in 30 minutes wound up being a 45-minute marathon. But winning honestly made things worthwhile.

A truthful witness gives honest testimony, but a false witness tells lies. -- Proverbs 12:17

Oh, by the way -- did you notice the winning hand we helped our opponent see?

Teach me your way, O Lord; lead me in a straight path because of my oppressors. -- Psalm 27:11

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Poker Night 208: Threes to Please

"That's not a raise," a man across the table from us said tonight during an early hand at Lil Kim's Cove. With the blinds at 25/50, we raised 100. He eventually made big bets, and ran us off two pair which probably would have won. So if you can't beat 'em, join 'em -- right?

BLINDS: 25/50


The hand we surrendered cost us a lot of chips. But we won most of it back in the hand prior to this one, when we followed the man's example and shoved all-in with four diamonds on the board. (Yes, we had the nuts.) Now we're first in the order, and we limp in. Several players do.

ON THE FLOP: 5-3-5

Jackpot! A woman ahead of us checks, and we know what to do with a full house.

"Fifteen-hundred," we announce. "It worked for him" -- referring to a bet that man across the table made against us earlier. That man appears stunned that we bet so much now. But he calls, as does the dealer.


Why slow down? We bet 2,000. Our opponents decide we mean business, and fold. Then following that man's example, we don't show our cards -- and we repeat his words: "I don't want to give away my strategy for the next hand."

(By the way: did you notice our last post occurred at 3:33 p.m. U.S. ET? Then 3-3 paid big dividends? Naah -- we think it's coincidence.)

We won a couple more nice pots as well, then chose to play tight defense in the second hour after a big loss to a well-hidden three of a kind. We survived to the final table with one minimal 500-dollar chip -- then won the draw for dealer, and endured past the two-hour break.

When we finally had to go all-in with J-4, we were outgunned by a woman whose K-Q both paired. But we went home relieved and satisfied. A seventh-place finish broke that looooong streak of missing final tables!

MINISTRY MOMENT: "You going to cut?" a woman to our left asked at the semifinal table. We admittedly were distracted by the TV on the wall behind our seat, and what channel was on.

"They're showing TBN -- Trinity Broadcasting," we pointed out. You certainly don't expect that at a bar like Lil Kim's Cove. And the captioning was on, so we could read everything ministers such as Dr. David Jeremiah said.

"Some people here probably could use that," we said -- and the woman next to us agreed. Admittedly, no one else seemed to pay much attention to the screen or the message. But if it's on, someone could -- and who knows where God might get someone's attention.

UPDATED POKER SCOREBOARD: 84 final tables in 208 nights (40.4%) - 15 cashes. Live heads-up record: 2-3.

NATIONAL LEAGUE OF POKER TOTAL: Full tournaments - 90 point wins in 488 games (18.4%), 37 final tables, two cashes.

POKER STARS.NET TOTAL: Pretend cash games - $23,599, up $1,395. The next Million-Dollar Challenge freeroll is this Sunday, but schedule commitments may prevent us from playing.

God Across the Table

We stepped into an online play-money cash game the other night and met God.

Well, actually the screen name was "GOD2000" -- and that inspired us to try to start a conversation:

flopblogger: Nice to see God is here. :-)
Dealer: SavageCash, it's your turn. You have 8 seconds to act
flopblogger: I read His book every day.
Dealer: Game #52720293661: SavageCash wins pot (300)
BGSHERIFF226: you'd think he'd have more chips
flopblogger: That's a really good point. :-)

A good point, in part because God claims to be the Owner of all things....

Hear, O my people, and I will speak, O Israel, and I will testify against you: I am God, your God.... for every animal of the forest is mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills.... and the creatures of the field are mine.... the world is mine, and all that is in it. -- Psalm 50:7-12

How can God say all that? Because He created it all. Moses expanded those property rights even farther....

To the Lord your God belong the heavens, even the highest heavens, the earth and everything in it. Yet the Lord set his affection on your forefathers and loved them, and he chose you, their descendants, above all the nations, as it is today. -- Deuteronomy 10:14-15

All that we have reflects God's love for us, and His sharing with us. That includes your poker chips, and the table where you play. And if you're a skilled player -- well, to borrow from Rush Limbaugh, that's "talent on loan from God" as well.

So what did the "God" at our table have to say about all this? Nothing. In fact, moments later before a flop....

Dealer: GOD2000, it's your turn. You have 8 seconds to act
Dealer: GOD2000 has timed out - hand is folded....
flopblogger: And I thought God is timeless. :-/

In God's eternal perspective, time means nothing.

But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. -- II Peter 3:8

The Bible shows believers can join in that timelessness, being resurrected to eternal life when Jesus comes again. And we'll be able to share in God's amazing bounty forever -- perhaps even some of those poker chips.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Searching for Ararat

No, we're not after not the physical mountain -- but after meeting an online poker player using the name "Ararat," we asked where you might find that location in the Bible.

We noted Genesis 8:4, where Noah's Ark landed long ago. The other Biblical mentions admittedly are obscure. Jeremiah 51:27 indicates Ararat is one of three kingdoms in a prophetic assault on Babylon. And it's also the place where two murderers of an Assyrian king fled:

One day, while he was worshiping in the temple of his god Nisroch, his sons Adrammelech and Sharezer cut him down with the sword, and they escaped to the land of Ararat.... -- II KIngs 19:37

You might consider it coincidence that a king was killed while worshiping his god. But when Jesus comes back, He plans to "strike down the nations" (Revelation 19:15) -- which we can safely guess refers to nations which don't worship Christ. So are you worshiping "poker gods," or the real Lord?

Monday, November 15, 2010

Poker Night 207: The Other Golden Rule

The Biblical one is commonly mentioned as: "Do to others as you would have them do to you" (Matthew 7:12, NIV; the traditional Old English wording is NOT in the King James Version).

The other golden rule is: "He who has the gold, rules." And two players with bright 5,000-dollar gold chips had quite a battle for control at The Red Barn tonight....

BLINDS: 25/50

IN THE POCKET: Q-7 offsuit

We're dealing, and the blinds are about to go up. Sitting with 5,400 chips after starting with 6,000, we normally fold this combination -- and so we do. Only one player calls the big blind, who checks (the small blind is absent).


Wow -- flops don't come more powerful than that! A man sitting to our right grabs his stack of chips and fakes dropping it all-in. But he's not playing first; the big blind starts, and bets 1,000. His opponent sees that and only calls.


Both players quickly check.


Both men check again.

"Gimme that gold chip," the man to the left says. He shows an Ace, confirming he hit the jackpot -- quads on the flop for a 5,000-chip bonus.

As for our night: it was another uphill fight, as players around us bought plenty of drinks and food to gain bonus chips exceeding ours. We took a big loss when a top pair fell short, then rallied with A-2 when an Ace came on the turn to give us two pair. Pocket 7's brought another big gain after the one-hour break -- but 8-8 minutes later proved our undoing, as the quad-maker with A-Q paired them both. We were gone in about 19th place.

MINISTRY MOMENT: We learned tonight the man who made quads is Catholic. He talked about the main door to the church he attends having big gashes on it -- "like Satan trying to break into the church."

The devil certainly would like to tear down the church Jesus started. In fact, the apostle Paul admitted he "persecuted the church of God" (I Corinthians 15:9). But God changed him in a miraculous way (see Acts 9) -- and Jesus promised even before that:

....On this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. -- Matthew 16:18

Stay close to God's church -- but make sure the church group you attend is actually close to God, following what the Bible instructs.

UPDATED POKER SCOREBOARD: 83 final tables in 207 nights (40.1%) - 15 cashes. We can't remember the last time we had a streak like this: 12 missed final tables in a row.

Saturday, November 13, 2010


Remember when we played in a Saturday night heads-up poker tournament a couple of weeks ago? We were eliminated in what would have been the semifinals -- and as we drove him, we wondered if it might have been a double elimination event.

Tonight we returned to The Red Barn, and found out. Yup, it was. We left too soon, and could have won after all. :-(

At least we knew tonight. Not that it helped. We went 0-2. :-(

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Poker Night 206: Overrunning the Army

"I want you to mention me in your blog," a man to our right said tonight at Lil Kim's Cove. "I want you to mention my name."

OK, fair enough. On this Veterans Day, we were joined at the table by E.J. -- who has served his country in Iraq and Japan. But we don't think he wanted to be mentioned for this....

BLINDS: 25/50

IN THE POCKET: J-10 offsuit

We're at a table of six. No one's raising, so we decide to lay low and limp in.


We have top pair, but other players are ahead of us. The table checks to E.J., who bets 300. We call, while everyone else folds.


E.J. checks. But now we have three of a kind, so we're marching instead of limping. We bet 600, leading at least one man at the table to guess we have a Jack. E.J. probably hears that, but he calls anyway. (Of course, he might also have a Jack.)


....but we really doubt he has a full house now, as we do. E.J. checks, and we bet 1,500.

"That tells me you have the Jack," E.J. says. We say nothing, while he thinks it over for several seconds. Finally he folds -- and while neither of us show what we had, we're guessing he made the right decision.

That hand gave us a nice gain after early losses -- but nothing came our way beyond that. A last-ditch push with K-Q lost to a player with A-10, who took three players out at once with two pair. Final score: a tie for 19th place -- and a final table slump that's climbed to 11 tournaments in a row.

MINISTRY MOMENT: Earlier in the day, we were joined at an online tournament by a player with an unusual Biblical name....

Dealer: Ararat wins Main Pot ($820) with Flush, queen high
Me: Chips mount for Ararat.
Ararat: tx
Dealer: flopblogger wins Main Pot ($570)
Me: With a name like Ararat, are you a Bible reader?
Ararat: oops no
Me: That's where Noah's Ark landed in Genesis....
Ararat: yes sure thats right
Me: (Double-checked it just now. :-) )

You can see that mention of Mount Ararat in Genesis 8:4. Now let's encourage you to be a Bible reader: can you find another place in Scripture where Ararat is mentioned? We'll have the answer in a future post.

UPDATED POKER SCOREBOARD: 83 final tables in 206 nights (40.3%) - 15 cashes.

NATIONAL LEAGUE OF POKER TOTAL: Full tournaments - 88 point wins in 478 games (18.4%), 37 final tables, 2 cashes. We had a sixth-place finish in an 84-player game Sunday afternoon.

POKER STARS.NET TOTAL: Full tournaments - Two "top ten percent" finishes in 12 games (16.7%), no cashes. Pretend cash games - $22,204, down $220.

We never mentioned how we did in the "Million Dollar Challenge Freeroll" last Sunday night. It was our best showing in that massive game yet -- lasting until the one-hour break, finishing at #7,996 out of almost 37,000 players.

Trash or Treasure

"Trash-talk" has become commonplace in the sports world -- and we even hear it sometimes at local poker tournaments. A few online players can take it to outlandish extremes. Here's one recent example at National League of Poker:

SALGUNDY: i am your king
SALGUNDY: u my servants

Sal was talking about defeating the entire table, as if his "day job" is in professional wrestling. But we felt compelled to speak up, and gained some support:

Me: No. Jesus is my king. :-)
teindaddy02: amen to that
SALGUNDY: jesus is a mexican name
Me: OK, I'll be more specific.
Dealer: _EMELY_ wins Main Pot ($1400) with Two pair, kings and fives
teindaddy02: sal u are a dumb***
Me: Not Jesus Alou (former baseball player).....
Me: but Jesus Christ.
SALGUNDY: ohhhhhhhhhh

Jesus Alou actually was born in the Dominican Republic, but that's not our point. Our point is that the other Jesus is a King, and believers are to be His subjects -- now and for eternity:

I charge you to keep this command without spot or blame until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which God will bring about in his own time -- God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of Kings and Lord of lords.... -- I Timothy 6:13-15

The next part of the chat went like this, as our supporter went all-in to be eliminated:

teindaddy02: im out of here i dont want to hear this idiot....
teindaddy02: flop gl buddy
Me: Take care - and go with God. :-)
SALGUNDY: buy daddy
SALGUNDY: buy dad
teindaddy02: always no other way to go

As a radio minister of years gone by liked to say, "Walk with the King today and be a blessing!" An Old Testament prophet recommended that as well....

He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. -- Micah 6:8

Notice that -- to walk humbly? We don't think that means bragging or trash-talking at the table. Unless, perhaps, you're giving God the glory.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Poker Night 205: Calle Ocho

After missing the final table in local live tournaments nine times in a row, we went to The Red Barn tonight determined to turn things around. Sitting at a table where players bought shot after shot to add chips to their stacks, this would be an uphill climb -- and our objective was to wait for the right moment:

BLINDS: 100/200


We're in the small blind, and won a big early pot with a pair of Queens. But now we're back to about 7,500 chips, and the woman we topped before raises to 1,200. A couple of years ago, we probably would have presumed the worst here and folded. But now we call. One other player does as well.

ON THE FLOP: 3c-5c-8d

We have "top trips," but we're not the ones who started piling on the extra chips here. So we check -- and sure enough, a man to our left bets 1,500. The woman across the table folds, and we know we have (at least for the moment) the best hand.

"Raise -- 3,000" we announce. Our opponent isn't flustered by this, and calls.


We check again, wary of what the other man has -- but that might have been a mistake. Two clubs are showing, and he could be on a flush draw. (Then again, the 9 might have made him a straight.) He checks, which makes us feel better.


Uh-oh -- there's that third club. We check once more, and our opponent bets 1,500.

"If you've got a flush, you've got me," we admit -- yet to be honest, we smell a big bluff. With a good bit of confidence, we quickly call.

"I don't have a flush," he says. He shows pocket Queens. "What do you have?"

"Triple-eight," we say turning over a big winning hand. Our opponent is left frustrated -- moaning aloud to himself about how the river bet was supposed to scare us away. Instead, our chip stack jumps above 17,000.

That was the last hand we were to win all night -- and with mostly tight play after that, we almost reached the final table. Practically forced to go all-in with our last 4,000 chips on A-4 of spades, the woman across the table topped us with Kings and Queens. She took two players out in the process, leaving us tied for ninth (tenth in terms of points) -- one hand away from ending our streak.

MINISTRY MOMENT: We take a small digital voice recorder to the table to note our hands for this blog. After recording the early pot win, a man to our right said: "Talking to yourself?"

"I'm talking to this."

"Talking to yourself -- because you'll be listening to it."

Well, yes.... but: "If God hears everything I say, I never talk to myself."

The man agreed with that perspective -- but later in the tournament, he was cursing up a storm. We would only point out the warning words of Jesus:

But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned. -- Matthew 12:36-37

UPDATED POKER SCOREBOARD: 83 final tables in 205 nights (40.5%), 15 cashes.

Liquid Assets

We've been talking about the woman who won first place at a local poker tournament, and the Bible verse she mentioned as she talked about it. She won a 50-dollar first prize, but then admitted: "I spent more than 50 dollars on alcohol...." So she was probably at the club for a good time, and won a poker tournament along the way.

It would be interesting to know how many professional poker players drink alcohol during tournaments. NBC's room for Poker After Dark has a bar on one side, but we've never really noticed many players getting drinks there.

We'd think serious poker players would want to keep their minds as clear as possible. That's a good idea for living as well:

Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit. -- Ephesians 5:18

That's Spirit with a capital S, as in the Holy Spirit of God. There's no real "hangover" with that Spirit -- and if you're filled with it for events tonight, the memories of the "morning after" are likely to be clear and positive.

The Bible indicates drinking a little wine at times is fine (I Timothy 5:23) -- and Jesus shared some with His disciples only hours before His death (Mark 14:23-25). But the key word is "moderation." Is a 50-dollar bar tab moderate, or excessive? To be honest, we're not sure. We've been too focused on winning poker tournaments to experiment with that.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

From Nine to Two

While you may have been busy with college football games or clock-changing this weekend, the "November Nine" sat down to conclude the World Series of Poker Main Event. (We admittedly thought this wasn't occurring until Monday or Tuesday.)

After 13 hours of action, two finalists remain. Top marquee name Michael "The Grinder" Mizrachi left in fifth place. Quebec's Jonathan Duhamel holds a six-to-one chip lead, heading to heads-up action against Florida's John Racener.

You can review Saturday's action at the WSOP Twitter feed (or wait for Tuesday night on ESPN). But now: do you think Racener can rally? Are you surprised about how things have gone?

Sunday Rewind: Know It, Show It

We helped a woman at the Thursday night poker tournament with a Bible verse about rich men. Then she admitted how she'd already spent the "riches" she earned from finishing first -- on alcohol.

The Bible passage quoted Jesus as saying it's hard for a rich man to enter God's Kingdom. But we intentionally stopped before giving the rest of the story....

When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, "Who then can be saved?" Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible." -- Matthew 19:25-26

How can a wealthy person enter God's Kingdom? For that matter, how can you? Jesus offers the answer moments before, while talking with a man commonly called a "rich young ruler."

Jesus answered, "If you want to be perfect, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me." When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth. -- 19:21-22

The young ruler told Jesus he was keeping the commandments (verses 17-20), but the Lord called for more. He called on the ruler to give to others -- a way based on love instead of hoarding, or give instead of get.

Some wealthy people in our society attempt to practice this; the Gates Foundation comes to mind. Even some professional poker players do that, by playing in tournaments for charity.

But here's the thing which might baffle some people. The woman was complaining about an opponent being greedy with the prize money -- when the object of a poker tournament is to "greedily" collect everyone else's chips!

We think the key is in drawing boundary lines -- knowing when the game ends and the reality of living begins. Professional athletes have to draw that line, yet we sometimes hear of players blurring the lines and getting in trouble with the law. Even poker players need to be careful.

But each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. -- James 1:14-15

There's one more aspect of the woman's story we have yet to address. It also involves boundary lines. Stay tuned for another post about that.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Poker Night 204: Minor 49'er

Our poker day began with a very nice result -- eighth place out of 604 players in an online tournament. (If only the payouts hadn't stopped at fifth!) And tonight began well at Lil Kim's Cove, as we dealt ourselves A-A to start the tournament and won two early pots. Then this test came....

BLINDS: 25/50

IN THE POCKET: 4-9 of diamonds

The early gains have us overflowing with more than 13,000 chips. So for a measly 50, suited cards are worth a whirl. We join several players in the hand.

ON THE FLOP: 8d-3d-9c

There's plenty of promise here -- top pair, plus a flush draw. So sitting in early position, we bet 350. But a man to our left doubles the bet to 700. We're not sure what he has, but we call.

ON THE TURN: 2s (unsure about suit, but not a diamond)

This doesn't change a thing for us, but now we "check to the raiser." He bets 700 again. But we have a big stack, and decide it's time to use it for a little serious warfare.

"Raise -- 2,000." The scare tactic doesn't work; he calls.


Now we have three of a kind -- and if our opponent was betting big with the same flush draw we had, he missed. That's what we think happened, so we check in the hope of inducing a bluff we can call.

"Two-thousand again," he says. We feel confident and quickly make the call. "Three nines."

"I've got a boat," our opponent says. Huh?!?! Yes, he does -- showing 3-3. He led us in the hand from start to finish, and took us for close to 5,000 chips. (Not to mention a lot of our confidence.)

That loss cost us a lot of momentum, and only a split pot followed for us after that. We lasted into the second hour, then went for it all holding A-8 when an Ace came on the flop. But a man across from us made a full house on the river, and what started well ended meagerly in 18th place. We've now missed the final table at nine live tournaments in a row.

MINISTRY MOMENT: We defer tonight to a woman sitting at our right, who described how she finished first and won $50 at a tournament earlier in the week. She says she offered to "chop the pot" with her final opponent, but he declined.

"Then three hands in a row, I got Ace-Queen," she said. She went all-in three times -- finally persuading her opponent to call and lose. She hopes he learned a lesson about not being greedy. "If you make it that far at the final table, it's only right to chop it."

Then the champion thought of a Bible verse. "The Bible says it's harder for a rich man to...." She couldn't remember the rest, so we helped her finish the thought -- which comes from Jesus:

"I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God." -- Matthew 19:23-24

But then the woman said something which topped it all. "I didn't even break even on the night, because I'd spent more than 50 dollars on alcohol...." It was the principle of fair play she had in mind.

What are your thoughts about this story? We'll share ours in an upcoming post.

UPDATED POKER SCOREBOARD: 83 final tables in 204 nights (40.7%) - 15 cashes.

NATIONAL LEAGUE OF POKER TOTAL: Full tournaments -- 85 point wins in 470 games (18.1%), 36 final tables, two cashes.

POKER STARS.NET TOTAL: Pretend cash games - $22,424, up $10. The next "Million-Dollar Challenge" freeroll tournament is this coming Sunday.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


Our last post focused on a hand where our dream of a flush was close on the flop -- but a big bet by an opponent ran us off, because the flush-making card came on the river.

A poker tournament can be filled with emotional tests -- including the moments that can test your courage. If you commit a lot of chips to a potentially big hand, do you hang tough when someone challenges you with a big bet? With potentially an all-in bet? Or do you step back from the edge of the diving board?

We're talking about times that test your courage. And the Bible offers several cases where people are en-couraged by God to have courage.

"Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their forefathers to give them. Be strong and very courageous.... Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go." -- Joshua 1:6-9

God tells Joshua to be courageous four times in this chapter (and two times before that, in Deuteronomy 31). I've read that over the years and concluded Joshua must have had a "fraidy-cat," easily-scared personality. Otherwise, why would God use this language over and over? The apostle Paul gave similar advice centuries later:

Be on your guard; stand firm in the truth; be men of courage; be strong. -- I Corinthians 16:13

A minister in Florida has put it well: Christianity isn't for cowards. We're reaching the conclusion that successful poker isn't, either.

So we ask: what advice would you offer for building courage -- in yourself or others?