IN THE POCKET: 8-8
They can have six-point touchdowns and three-point field goals. We have a middle-of-the-road pocket pair, and haven't won a hand so far. This is a limping hand for us, and most of the table gets in with no one raising.
ON THE FLOP: 3-3-5
An ugly flop for some people -- but a hopeful one for us. We have an "overpair" for two pair. So when the table checks to us, we bet 250. A couple of players fold, so about half the table remains.
ON THE TURN: 7
Our overpair remains exactly that -- higher than anything showing. The table checks again, and this time we offer 350.
ON THE RIVER: 5
Hmmmm -- now two pair are showing. But the cards are low, we still have an overpair and no one's made a move to challenge our betting yet. The table checks to us again.
"Don't do it," the player to our immediate left says as we reach for chips. Why is he saying that -- because we're about to scare him off? We want to be firm, so we bet 500. The man to our left calls. But then a player across the table raises to 1,000. We still don't think it's trouble, and we're "pot committed" anyway. So we call, as does the man to our left.
"I've got a boat," that man to the left declares. He shows 3-J for a full house. Trouble is, the man across from him shows 7-7! It's a larger full house to take a big pot.
Bottom line: we took the lead in betting -- and wound up getting burned. We doubted anyone was playing with a 3. But in free tournament poker, gambling with little is easy -- and sometimes the payoff is big.
We turned things around on the next hand, when 10-9 of hearts turned into a winning flush (and almost a straight flush). Then came a split pot with K-9. Then at the semifinal table, 8-7 of diamonds in the Big Blind turned into a victorious "triple-eight."
That provided enough chips to bring us to the final table -- where we went all-in with J-J, and they held up to improve us to 40,000 chips. But after the two-hour break with huge blinds, we tried to push again with A-J of spades. The board didn't pair, and a man with pocket Aces prevailed. He took out two players, leaving us tied for fourth place -- but that's still our best finish at Lil Kim's since late June.
MINISTRY MOMENT: "I found God in rehab," a man said at our table tonight. That led to a three-way discussion, in which we remembered the moment when we surrendered to God.
"I lost my job, then needed a thousand-dollar engine overhaul on my car," we recalled. In fact, this year marks 30 years since that double-whammy drove us to our knees on a cold Friday night. It was a time similar in some ways to what an early apostle experienced.
As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground.... Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing. So they led him by the hand into Damascus. For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything. - Acts 9:3, 8-9Read this entire chapter and you'll see it was Jesus who struck down Saul, then scolded him for persecuting the Lord while raging against the early church. God could have gone even farther and killed Saul. But God had bigger plans for him.
Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul's eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized, and after taking some food, he regained his strength.... At once he began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God. - Acts 9:18-20He went from persecutor to preacher, from annihilator to apostle -- and in the process, his name changed from Saul to Paul. Much of the New Testament is a testimony of God changed his life. Has he changed yours? And if you're going through difficulties now, is He trying to tell you something?
UPDATED POKER SCOREBOARD: 122 final tables in 344 games (35.5%) - 19 cashes. Tonight marked our first live-tournament final table since 7 August.
NATIONAL LEAGUE OF POKER TOTAL: Full tournaments - 264 point wins in 1,125 games (23.5%), 82 final tables, 10 wins, 10 cashes. No-River Hold 'em - 9 point wins in 44 games (20.5%), 8 final tables, 1 win.
We squeaked into a final table in No-River play Monday, finishing tenth out of 118 players.
POKER STARS.NET TOTAL: Pretend cash games - $82,340, down $646.