IN THE POCKET: J-10 of spades
We're under the gun -- first to act, and needing some action. Despite the bonus, we've yet to win a hand and hold about 14,000 chips. We simply call, and several players at the table join in.
ON THE FLOP: A-10-8 (8 is a spade)
It's a pair, but it's not top pair. So we play cautiously and check, only to find the man to our immediate left throwing out 1,200. Primarily because we can afford, we join a couple of other players in calling. Our big hope is for spades.
ON THE TURN: 6h
So much for that idea. We check again. Now the bettor plunks down 1,700. One player calls, but we decide he has an Ace and folds.
ON THE RIVER: J
Aarrgh! This would have given us two pair -- and a winning hand, because the bettor took the pot with merely an 8. He bet big with little, and chased us off a sizable gain.
A three-way split of a Broadway straight at the end of the first hour left us with about 22,000 chips -- but then hour two brought a few big pots. In one case, Q-Q beat an opponent's semi-bluff big push with 7-7. Our stack climbed above 40,000 -- but then the cards went dry, and our stack went down.
With blinds at 5,000/10,000, we finally pushed all-in with 3-3. But we lost to a woman with an Ace who paired it on the flop. That push cost us another final table appearance; we finished tied for ninth (due to a double take-out).
MINISTRY MOMENT: A classic album rock song came up on the jukebox during the second hour -- but we only realized when we came home we've misunderstood the lyrics for decades. Van Halen sings Runnin' With the Devil, but we thought they sang "Flirting."
"You don't want to flirt with the devil," we tried to tell our table. "Love God, but don't flirt with the devil."
No wonder the players didn't understand. But come to think of it, running with Satan is every bit as bad an idea as flirting.
Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. - James 4:7
It's tempting to recommend you run from the devil. But the New Testament actually recommends a different strategy....
Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings. - I Peter 5:8-9
You can stand strong against Satan's temptations by being clothed with "the armor of God." Read Ephesians 6:10-18 to learn all about that.
UPDATED POKER SCOREBOARD: 93 final tables in 229 nights (40.6%) - 15 cashes.