Sunday, September 30, 2012

For the Win?

The radio preacher's message was about the eighth commandment, which contains four easy-to-understand words....
Thou shalt not steal. - Exodus 20:15 (KJV)
Then the preacher gave those words a wide-ranging impact.  Among other applications, he said gambling is "morally wrong."  He explained in business, people make money selling items to other people -- and both sides should gain from it.  But in "gaming" (which he indicated was the polite word players put on it), people cannot win money without other people losing money.

We heard this explanation, then stopped to consider how overly simplistic it sounded.  For one thing, wouldn't many sports events be considered gambling -- whether you bet on them or not?

Many pro golf tournaments have qualifying rounds, where people pay entry fees hoping to make the field.  The ones who do could wind up winning thousands of dollars -- while the ones who don't drive home with $200 less in their wallets.  The U.S. Open in tennis works the same way, with entry fees for sectional qualifying round.

We've heard some people consider the stock market a form of gambling -- because prices of stock can go up and down, based on all sorts of factors.  A $1,000 investment today might be worth $2,000 next week (think Apple), or practically zero (think Enron).  People who "buy low and sell high" win, while those who choose badly lose.

Another radio minister even dared to say farming is gambling.  Farmers plant seeds, then wait for the proper sun and rain to develop a crop.  In fact, this might be the ultimate type of gambling -- because farmers pray (or should) for God to provide the essential things they need.  If it's a year of drought, as 2012 has been in much of the U.S., you lose.

In years gone by, we would have agreed with that anti-gambling preacher -- and to some extent, we still do.  Slot machines and lotteries seem to us like a terrible waste of money, because the odds of winning are very steep.

But we've concluded it's ultimately a matter of where you invest your money, and how carefully you handle that investment.  Poker tables (especially in no-limit games) allow you to be as careful or as reckless as you wish.  As for how to approach those tables, consider these words of Jesus:
So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches?  And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else's property, who will give you property of your own? - Luke 16:11-12
Believers realize everything they own isn't really theirs.  Those items ultimately are God's.  So they handle them with care -- but without going too far:
No servant can serve two masters.  Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other.  You cannot serve both God and Money. - Luke 16:13
In other words: God should be your God -- not the blessings God gives you.

For more on why we see no Biblical problem with poker, read our complete Bible study on the topic.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Never Having To Say You're Sorry


Our last post brought up the subject of "courtesy" at the poker table.  It had been on our mind before that, because of this online chat earlier in the week:

Dealer:  flopblogger wins Main Pot ($2,580) with Two pair, nines and sevens
Me:  Sorry Friends
Nebrguy1957:  lol @ sorry
Nebrguy1957:  what utter ***
Me:  Trying to be polite
Nebrguy1957:  try to be honest
readingu:  thank u
Nebrguy1957:  it means more

These words of correction made us stop and "examine ourselves," to borrow from II Corinthians 13:5.  There are some online players who trash-talk the opponents they eliminate.  We say "sorry" to express the opposite of that.  And the Bible recommends:
Finally, be you all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous.... - I Peter 3:8 (KJV)
The New International Version substitutes "sympathetic" for "compassion" and "humble" for "courteous." That's the feeling we're trying to convey - realizing not everyone can win in a poker tournament.

On the other hand, some players have told us there's "no sorry in poker."  They'd point out in a tournament, eliminating other players is what you have to do to win.  So the players in our chat concluded we were not really sorry at all.

We have mixed emotions as we ponder this issue.  Here's what we wrote in the chat, after taking a moment to think things over:

Me:  OK I'm convicted.
Dealer:  Nebrguy1957 wins Main Pot ($1,240)
Me:  Please forgive me.

But no one accepted our offer of forgiveness.  And the more we think about this, the more we think it comes down to what sort of heart you have.  Is it selfish and competitive, striving for victory at all costs?  Or has it been changed by God into something different?
The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. - I Timothy 1:5
The other players may have assumed our heart was like theirs.  But by God's grace, we're trying to let Him....
Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. - Psalm 51:10
So if the word "sorry" causes a stir in online poker, what else should we say when we eliminate a player?  Maybe Peter had a right answer all along....
Do not repay evil for evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. - I Peter 3:9
That's something we'll be working on in upcoming games.  In the meantime, what do you say when you eliminate an opponent -- if anything?

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Poker Night 352: Money Where Your Mouth Is

After keeping the Day of Atonement/Yom Kippur, the evening plans for us were very alliterative.  We ate all-you-want buffet pizza Wednesday night to break the fast.  Then we played poker at Soho Bar & Grill, changing our weekly routine because of an upcoming event.  We needed a good night, to avoid falling below a key milepost for us.  But our table turned out to be challenging....

BLINDS: 25/50

IN THE POCKET: A-6 offsuit

Some big bettors are standing around our table (the tables are high, and they don't use chairs), but we've only tried and failed with one modest pot so far.  We get in small, in about the fourth hand of the evening.  No one raises, to cause problems.

ON THE FLOP: 5-6-9

We have middle pair, the best possible kicker -- and the feeling this flop is not going to thrill the table.  Indeed, the action checks to us.  So we offer 200.

"You don't bet very often," a man across from us says.  Maybe not, but we have here -- and it chases about half the players away.  No one raises.

ON THE TURN: 4h

This puts two hearts on the board, but we don't really notice that.  For one thing, we don't have hearts.  For another thing, this card is lower than our 6.  It's a bit tempting to bet again.  But we check to measure what others might have -- and everyone checks.

ON THE RIVER: Ah

As in Ah-A!  Now we have two pair, and we feel good about it.  So we bet 500.  A couple of players check -- but a man to our right who constantly seems to be on the telephone with someone raises to 3,500.

Only now do we notice the three hearts on display.  And that makes this decision very tough.  If we call and he's hit a flush, we'd lose more than half our chip stack.  But part of us wants to say he's bluffing, in an attempt to scare us away.  After a few seconds, our decision is made.

"I don't want to do it, but I'm going to fold."  We don't show our cards as we toss them away.  Our opponent doesn't show his in collecting the pot, either.

"You had A-9, didn't you?" the commenter across the table asks us.

"No, I didn't."

"I'm not going to be reading your blog, so I thought you might have the courtesy to tell me what you had."

"It wasn't A-9," we somewhat repeat.  Yes, it might be courteous to reveal our cards on the spot.  But: a) it's not required; (b) our inquisitor never asked the winner what he had; and c) we try to maximize our blog visit count as much as possible.

Maximizing our chips, however, turned out to be difficult.  We never won a hand all night, and finally went all-in in the second hour with A-5 of diamonds when the flop was 2-4-5.  But the turn was 6, giving a man with a 3 a winning straight.  We finished in about 25th place (another player was eliminated with us), so we went on to our next P on the schedule - leaving a rent payment.

MINISTRY MOMENT: We've taken a small pack of Kleenex tissues for a couple of weeks, to use as our card protector.  No, not for crying over lost pots.

"I brought this to remind me," we said to a player at our left, "when Jesus comes back to set up the Kingdom of God, He'll wipe away all tears from our eyes."
He will wipe every tear from their eyes.  There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. - Revelation 21:4
"Do you believe the Kingdom of God is coming?" we asked the man.  He said he did.  But as much alcohol as he had nearby, we're not sure how sincere that answer was.

The next Biblical event on the calendar after the Day of Atonement symbolizes the coming establishment of God's kingdom on this earth:
Then the survivors from all the nations that have attacked Jerusalem will go up year after year to worship the King, the Lord Almighty, and to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles. - Zechariah 14:16
This prophetic chapter has an ominous warning about the near-term future of Jerusalem -- but it has a happy ending, with Jesus's second coming.  If you're not familiar with the Feast of Tabernacles or the other "holy days" of God, this article may help you understand.

UPDATED POKER SCOREBOARD: 123 final tables in 352 games (34.9%) - 19 cashes.

After months of fighting to stay above it, our final table percentage drops below 35 -- our lowest since our early days of live tournaments in 2007-08.

NATIONAL LEAGUE OF POKER TOTAL: Full tournaments - 268 point wins in 1,163 games (23.0%), 82 final tables, 10 wins, 10 cashes.  No-River Hold 'em - 14 point wins in 54 games (25.9%), 11 final tables, 1 cash win.

We asked a "final table" question in a post several days ago, and it referred to an NLOP No-River game.  The online players for a final table gathered while we were in the middle of a hand.  But we lost that hand, and wound up in ninth place.  We decided that should not count as a final table, since the start of that hand was at the semifinal table.

POKER STARS.NET TOTAL: Pretend cash games - $86,841, down $1,580.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Devil's Due

Our last post mentioned the approach of "Yom Kippur" or the Day of Atonement, from sunset Tuesday to sunset Wednesday.  It came up during an online tournament Monday, as a player with an eye-catching name was at the table:


Dealer:  lucifer1 wins Main Pot ($740)
Me:  Somehow doubting
Me:  Lucifer will keep
Me:  Yom Kippur. :-/ ....

Why would we write that in the chat box? Because the holy day pictures how God will someday punish Satan the devil.  The details of the Old Testament ceremony symbolize how it will happen:
When Aaron has finished making atonement for the Most Holy Place, the Tent of Meeting and the altar, he shall bring forth the live goat.  He is to lay both hands on the head of the live goat and confess over it all the wickedness and rebellion of the Israelites -- all their sins -- and put them on the goat's head.  He shall send the goat away into the desert in the care of a man appointed for the task. - Leviticus 16:20-21
Jesus paid the penalty for human sins, of course.  But He didn't disappear in a desert, after the crucifixion.  He was resurrected and seen by hundreds of people (I Corinthians 15:3-8) -- and He'll return to Earth someday (I Thessalonians 4:16).  So we think the goat symbolizes something else....
And I saw an angel coming down out of heaven, having the key to the Abyss and holding in his hand a great chain.  He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years. - Revelation 20:1-2
While Satan's lock-up is future, Lucifer1 was rolling up a big score at our table -- winning pot after pot, quickly climbing above 10,000 chips.  So we wrote:

Me:  Lucifer a grim reaper
lucifer1:  no I am not
Dealer:  lucifer1 wins Main Pot ($6,035)
Me:  You're reaping
Me:  at least.
Lucifer1:  Sorry, I am and little God's angel

It's too bad that we were eliminated shortly after that comment -- because we should have challenged it.
And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. - II Corinthians 11:14
Isaiah 14 refers to a "Lucifer" who once was in heaven, then was cast down for organizing a revolt against God.  Satan wants people to believe it's working for God, when it really "deceives the whole world" away from God (Revelation 12:9, KJV).

It's enough to make anyone stop and think.  Could Satan have deceived you into doing ungodly things -- even in a poker room?  As you have time, use the Day of Atonement to examine your life.  Compare your actions with the word of God.  Then get on the side which will win in the end.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Poker Night 351: Who's Got the Button?

"I think President Obama should be given at least one more chance...." So said a young man with a loud voice at The Red Barn tonight.  We finally were able to get his attention, and point out the U.S. President only gets one more chance -- because he's limited by the Constitution to two terms.

There are no "second chance" buy-ins at our live poker tournaments.  And unlike politics, the biggest spender doesn't always win the contest.  Let's see if it worked for us....

BLINDS: 100/200

IN THE POCKET: 9-9

We claimed one early pot with Ace high -- but the way some players at our table of seven have been raising pre-flop, we have to choose our moments with caution.  We've dealt ourselves this nice pocket pair.  And since no one's raised ahead of us, we call.  Most of the table is in.

ON THE FLOP: 3-3-J

These cards don't seem to inspire anybody.  The table checks, and so do we.

ON THE TURN: 4

This card doesn't liven up the party, either.  The table checks again -- but because we have two pair, we want to turn all those "checks" into cash.  We bet 600.

"No, no!  You can't do that," a man across the table advises.  "You can't bet.  You're the dealer."

This causes a moment of puzzlement, but then the woman to his right explains.  "He's just messing with you."

"We're not in Biloxi," we wryly point out -- where dealers never play hands at casinos.  But most of the table doesn't want to play this hand anymore.  Everyone folds to our bet except the Big Blind; he calls.

ON THE RIVER: 6

The Big Blind checks.  We bet 600 again.  He ponders a moment, then calls.  We show our pocket 9's, and he folds without showing.  This is a case where position at the table made all the difference; by playing last as the dealer, we were able to take advantage of the obvious reluctance of other players.

We reached the one-hour break at 7,600 chips, a bit more than our starting 7,000.  But a moment of truth came in the second hour, when we tried to limp in with A-Q of hearts.  A player to our immediate left raised 5,000 -- exactly enough to put us all-in.  We called, and eventually found we were outgunned by his A-K.  A King on the board took the pot, and took us home.  We played more than an hour, but wound up the first eliminated from our table.

MINISTRY MOMENT: Earlier in the day, we had to make a correction in an online poker chat -- but that moved things in a religious direction:

Me:  Oops. U.N. Day is
Me:  October 24. Apologies....
PhilMo78:  tomorrow is yom kippur***..hows that
Me:  Tomorrow night, yes.
Me:  Eat now. :-)
Dealer:  Longwell wins Main Pot ($240)
Me:  Worship later.

"Yom Kippur" is the Jewish name for what English-language Bibles describe this way....
The Lord said to Moses, "The tenth day of this seventh month is the Day of Atonement.  Hold a sacred assembly and deny yourselves, and present an offering made to the Lord by fire.  Do no work on that day, because it is the Day of Atonement, when atonement is made for you before the Lord your God." - Leviticus 23:26-28
"Denying yourself" refers to a 24-hour period of fasting (Leviticus 16:29-31).

We also mentioned this day to a woman at our table during the one-hour break.  "Isn't that what Jews do?" she asked.

"It's in the Bible, and actually was given to everyone," we answered.  Admittedly Yom Kippur has become pigeon-holed as a "Jewish day" -- but check the Old Testament carefully and you'll find all 12 tribes of Israel were together when God gave this instruction, including Judah.

"Jesus was a Jew," the woman pointed out -- and despite what some white supremacists might try to tell you, that's Biblically accurate:
For it is clear that our Lord descended from Judah.... - Hebrews 7:14
Since Jesus's ancestry was from Judaism (Luke 3:23-30), it only makes sense that He would keep "Jewish days" such as Atonement.  And since Jesus is God (John 1:1) and God gave a command about those days, it's also only sensible that Jesus would keep them while on Earth.

So why do we personally keep the Day of Atonement -- and why should Christians observe it?  We'll answer that in our next post.  Or if you don't want to wait, grab a Bible and study this complete explanation.

UPDATED POKER SCOREBOARD: 123 final tables in 351 nights (35.0%) - 19 cashes.


Sunday, September 23, 2012

There Are Rules, and Then....

There's been a little confusion in recent days at one of our local poker stops.  The issue: should you show your hand to other players at the table before the showdown?

In the "free poker" tournaments we enter, such "preview showing" is common -- especially if you're showing your cards to a neighbor who's folded.  At some point, it led to instruction from a Tournament Director about the "one player, one hand" principle.

"It's not a rule," the Director tried to emphasize the other night.  "It's etiquette."  Perhaps at that table -- bnt we can envision some casinos and tournaments where it might bring a penalty.  Our online searching found some events even have detailed rules on how a showdown is conducted.

In informal local poker, the fine points of the rules can be fuzzy.  Some people relish that, and try to live their entire lives the same way.  But if you're a follower of God and Jesus Christ, can you get away with that?  The early church had to deal with that kind of thinking....
But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ  even when we were dead in transgressions -- it is by grace you have been saved. - Ephesians 2:4-5
The grace of God and salvation through Jesus are wonderful things.  But how do you handle those gifts?  How do you respond to them?
What shall we say, then?  Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase?  By no means!  We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? - Romans 6:1-2
Paul goes on to admit believers are "not under law, but under grace" (verse 14).  But a mature response to grace (dare we say a response with "etiquette") is to walk away from a sinful lifestyle, to show appreciation for what God has done.  God's rules (otherwise known as the Ten Commandments) help us understand what sin is.  For instance:
He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need. - Ephesians 4:28
And if you play by God's rules, we think you'll become far less likely to appeal to God for forgiveness and grace in the future.

So learn the rules of the game -- whether at your local tournament, or from the Bible for the greater "game of life."  There should be less turmoil if you do.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Ruling, Please!

If players for the final table arrive at your table in the middle of a hand, but you get eliminated during that hand, should you score it as a "final table" appearance?

Discuss.  (And yes, there's a reason why we're asking.)

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Poker Night 350: Luck Be a Lady Tonight

At about two hours before game time, we weren't sure we could play poker at Lil Kim's Cove tonight.  We had a queasy stomach for some unknown reason, and thought we might throw up.  But a cup of soda calmed things down -- so we took the walk, and hoped other players wouldn't bring a relapse.

BLINDS: 100/200

IN THE POCKET: A-7 offsuit

We split an early pot with A-J, but missed a chase or two for big hands after that.  We start this hand in the Big Blind, with about 7,150 chips.  Then a man across from us livens things up, by raising to 1,200.  We hold our nose (figuratively speaking) and call, as does about half the table.

ON THE FLOP: 7-9-9

Release nose; hold onto chair.  We've stumbled into two pair with top kicker -- but we're admittedly uncertain about it.  For one thing, someone could have a third 9.  The Small Blind checks to us, and we launch a "feeler" bet of 500.  A couple of players call.

ON THE TURN: 6

This card doesn't change our situation, and we doubt it changed for anyone else.  So we offer 500 again.  as we recall, the same players call with no one folding.

ON THE RIVER: 8

"Ooh boy!  That f***ed up someone's hand right there," a player to our immediate left comments.  We don't like his choice of a verb, but we fear he's describing our situation well.

With four cards showing for a two-way straight, we check.  A woman two seats to our left does not; she bets 2,000.  We don't dare take the risk of calling, but a man across from us does.  Sure enough -- the woman shows a 5.  She'd pleaded with us when we arrived at the table for a mention in this blog, and she earns it with a winning straight.

A smaller stack limited our options after that.  We went all-in during the second hour with Q-6, after a Queen fell on the flop.  That worked, bringing us to 8,000.  But minutes later, we went all-in again with J-J.  A Queen came on the turn this time, but it gave another player a higher pair.  We finished 12th, feeling "sick" only about missing the final table again.

MINISTRY MOMENT: At our first table, a young man talked about being disrespected by another player a few days ago.  "You respect me, I'll respect you," he said.  But when that other player did not, he admitted coming close to "punching him in the face" -- talked out of it by other people nearby.

"It's not good to punch people in the face," we said to state the obvious.

"I know that," the young man answered, "but that's my mentality."

What an interesting choice of words.  He didn't say emotion -- but mentality.  In fact, we've heard ministers say our emotions can (and should) be controlled by how we think.  The problem is that humans tend to have minds filled with sin....
The sinful mind is hostile to God.  It does not submit to God's law, nor can it do so. - Romans 8:7
And that hostile mind can lead to all kinds of negative and dangerous emotions....
But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. - Colossians 3:8
How do we rid ourselves of these things?  Strange as it may sound, the Bible indicates God wants us to make a change of mind:
Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.... - Romans 12:2
That renewing requires something to be added to our mind -- something only God can provide:
The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace.... - Romans 8:6
It's the mind Jesus had when He walked the earth (Philippians 2:5, KJV).  Do you have that mind?  If not are you asking God for help in developing it?

UPDATED POKER SCOREBOARD: 123 final tables in 350 nights (35.1%) - 19 cashes.

NATIONAL LEAGUE OF POKER TOTAL: Full tournaments - 267 point wins in 1,157 games (23.1%), 82 final tables, 10 cashes, 10 outright wins.  No-River Hold 'em - 12 point wins in 50 games (24.0%), 11 final tables, 1 cash win.

No-River games continue to be strong for us; we finished ninth out of 105 players in a Sunday tournament.

POKER STARS.NET TOTAL: Pretend cash games - $88,421, up $6,480.

We had some big sessions here in the past week, tripling our starting stack of $800 on three separate occasions.

Skill Sets

We've been meaning to discuss an interesting court ruling about poker in New York.  It was mentioned Wednesday night on the public radio business-news program Marketplace -- where a federal judge recently ruled poker is a game of skill, more than luck or chance.

To quote from the ruling: "Expert poker players draw on an array of talents, including facility with numbers, knowledge of human psychology, and powers of observation and deception.... Players can use these skills to win, even if chance has not dealt them the better hand."

We didn't realize there's actually research to back up this judicial opinion.  Players considered "highly skilled" tend to make more money at the World Series of Poker than off-the-street amateurs.  Without paying for the research paper, we think this happens in part because skilled poker players know the mathematical odds for success with certain hands.

But what about those other two talents the judge mentioned?  A book ignored by many people has helpful advice about those.  For instance....
The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure.  Who can understand it? - Jeremiah 17:9
This Old Testament verse suggests to us it's good to be wary of what your opponents at a poker table might have.  In fact, you might learn a trick or two from how they handle a hand.
Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be you therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves. - Matthew 10:16 (KJV)
Jesus might put it this way today: Be smart in what you do -- but not so smart that you hurt others in the process.  Enjoy playing poker, but be sensitive enough toward opponents that you don't cause damage to them in some way (for example, with needless trash-talking).

Some poker players hope this federal ruling will open a door for some kind of federal law to legalize full-fledged online tournaments -- the games sites such as Full Tilt Poker ran before last year's Justice Department crackdown.  We personally think any change will depend on which party controls Congress after the November election.

Whatever happens in government, and wherever you happen to play poker, remember this: God someday will have a "payoff" based on the skills you have.  Read Matthew 25 for the details, told in parable form.  And if you have skills which help you at the table, use them well -- but use them honorably.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Poker Night 349: Tuesday Night Titanic

Because of the start of the Biblical "fall festival season," we stayed home Monday evening instead of playing poker at The Red Barn.  (We played online instead, and had modest but unspectacular results.)  But The Red Barn also has poker on Tuesday nights, so we simply flipped the schedule and drove there tonight.  Would we flip with delight when the evening was over?

BLINDS: 100/200

IN THE POCKET: Ace of spades - 4 of clubs

Only five players are at our table, but a couple of them are playing bigger to make up for it -- tossing out big bets to seize control of pots, if not drive each other crazy.  We jumped into one of those hands early with K-K, and won thousands of chips.  We're now in the Small Blind, starting with about 12,675 chips.  No one raises (for a change), so we get in small.

ON THE FLOP: 9s-5s-4s

We have bottom pair -- but more importantly, all those spades give us a big flush draw.  Sitting in lead position, we check.  The man to our left offers 1,500.  The next man in line calls.  Two men fold.  Since our chip stack is fairly large, we call in hope.

ON THE TURN: Ac

It's not a spade, but now we have two pair which includes top pair.  Since others are betting, we'll let them.  We check again.  But now the man to our left drops down 10,000 chips.

"I'm all-in, man," says the next man in line.  He has much more than 10,000 -- enough to put us all-in as well.  At times tonight, this player has made big bets with big hands.  At other times, he's been making big "bluffs" with nothing but a draw.  We pause for a moment.

"All I have," we say as we count chips, "is 10,975."  But we're counting for a reason.  "I'll go all-in."  We decide the "pusher" is trying to bully the table again.  The player who offered 10,000 then somewhat surprisingly folds.

"I've got a flush," our opponent says.  He joked about that when we won the pot with Kings -- but this time he shows two spades (8-3, we think).  For a change, we do not show our cards yet.  We have 11 outs here: seven spades for the nut flush, plus two remaining Aces and two remaining 4's for a full house.  That's a 25-percent chance of hitting the river.

ON THE RIVER: 5c

But we miss.  We show our losing two pair, and shake hands with the winner.  Instead of a winning 11, we lose in 22nd place -- first to go at our small table.

MINISTRY MOMENT: Earlier in the day, an online player entered the blinds with a mere 20 chips -- only to win both blinds and improve to 400.  That led to this chat, involving a player who lived up to his screen name:


MrInvincible:  this is just amazingly ***nny
MrInvincible:  nlop gods want me to stay
Dealer:  rayzor wins Main Pot ($1,200) with Straight, three to seven
Me:  But there's only 1 God
Kurapika:  i don't think the gods give a *** about the freerolls
Me:  He cares about us all
Kurapika:  except the muslims*** he hates them. and gays. 
MrInvincible:  obama loves both of them
Me:  God hates sin.

The half-hour tournament break intervened at this point, and effectively stopped the discussion.  But let's review a couple of points:

1. Has your poker playing hit bottom, taking your life down with it?  Have you reached the point where you don't think anyone cares about you?  The Bible assures us that's not true....
Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon him; for he cares for you - I Peter 5:6-7 (KJV)
God cares so much for you that He sent Jesus Christ to die for your sins, then be resurrected so that you might be saved to have eternal life.  President Obama quoted Jesus the other day, when the body of a murdered ambassador was flown back to the U.S.:
Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.  You are my friends if you do what I command. - John 15:13-14
2. Without getting political here, God hates all the sins humans commit -- whether it be worship of a false god, sexual impurity or stealing your poker opponent's gold-plated card protector.
The righteous hate what is false, but the wicked bring shame and disgrace. - Proverbs 13:5
God wants believers who are true to Him -- and care enough for Him to live lives reflecting the truth of the Bible.

UPDATED POKER SCOREBOARD: 123 final tables in 349 nights (35.2%) - 19 cashes.


Sunday, September 16, 2012

When Cultures Collide

Before last week's anti-U.S. protests erupted in the Middle East and Persian Gulf, we had our own meeting with a Muslim - or at least a defender of Islam.  It was online, during a National League of Poker tournament.  We've edited the chat a bit, to highlight our main points...


ETown13:  mean people suck
TheJuice:  mean people rule
TheJuice:  nice guys finish last
Me:  Ultimately, no.
TheJuice:  yes
ETown13:  keep telling yourself that juice
Me:  The righteous will
TheJuice:  every great conquerer was mean
Me:  receive eternal life.
TheJuice:  on earth you idiot
Dealer:  TheJuice wins Main Pot ($745)
Me:  You didn't specify.

The world indeed has plenty of "mean people" -- and some have held positions of power and conquest through the centuries.  But tonight marks the start of a religious season, which celebrates a time when that will change.
For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God's sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous.... This will take place on the day when God will judge men's secrets through Jesus Christ, as my gospel declares. - Romans 2:13, 16
Jesus Christ will judge the world, and all the secrets it contains.  Have you been stealing or cheating at poker tables?  God sees it all, and Revelation 20 indicates Jesus will judge it all.  It all begins with our obedience to God's law now, as we await the next big event:
For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. - I Thessalonians 4:16
Some Christians will mark the Feast of Trumpets beginning at sunset, to celebrate the pending return of Jesus.

We tried to explain to TheJuice that the dead won't live again until Jesus returns.  But he challenged us on the common (but not really Biblical) Christian view that believers go to heaven when they die:

Me:  But the righteous
TheJuice:  and no one has proven after life
Me:  will reign on earth.
TheJuice:  prove it
Me:  You won't accept
Me:  the Bible, will you?
TheJuice:  you cant prove it
ETown13:  sorry dude***..u have to believe
TheJuice:  omg the bible is a story kid
Dealer:  ETown13 wins Main Pot ($700)
Me:  A collection of them.
Me:  Like the newspaper is.
TheJuice:  fiction

ETown made a good point -- the Bible ultimately is a matter of believing in faith.
Thomas said to him, "My Lord and my God!"  Then Jesus told him, "Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed." - John 20:28-29
Instead, TheJuice tried to get us to accept the Muslim holy book as fact:

TheJuice:  why do you not believe the kuran is the truth
Me:  Parts of the Koran
Me:  affirm the Bible.
Me:  Example: 3:67-70
TheJuice:  all of Koran is fact

Strange, isn't it -- a Bible that skeptics claim is nothing but "a story" has sections which the Koran supports, and even recommends!  We admittedly have not read the Koran cover-to-cover.  But we're indebted to a minister which studied that book, compared it with the Bible and drew some eye-opening conclusions

Instead of shouting at each other about their faults (or going even farther, into violence), we think Christians and Muslims should read their books carefully and completely.  Then apply the advice of the apostle Peter - especially the last part:
But in your hearts set apart Jesus Christ as Lord.  Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.  But do this with gentleness and respect.... - I Peter 3:15

Friday, September 14, 2012

Riddle Me This

The idea came to us at a poker table, so we tried it out on the spot.  "Why should you never play poker with a psychic?" we asked.

The panel was stumped.

"Pairs-a-normal for them," we answered.

OK, we confess -- it was a lame, spur-of-the-moment attempt at poker humor.  Surely you can do better.  So leave a comment and tell us: what's your favorite poker joke?

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Poker Night 348: Big? Gulp!

(HAND CORRECTED 9.14.12)

We might as well have been playing online poker at Lil Kim's Cove tonight -- at least at the beginning.  A man walked in, sat down to our left and went all-in on the first two hands.  No one took him on.  But maybe he gave us an unconscious urge to loosen up our game....

BLINDS: 100/200

IN THE POCKET: A-Q offsuit

We started with 7,000 chips (2,000 extra for buying soda).  But we haven't won a hand, whiffed on some hopeful hands at the flop, and start this one with 4,375.  Sitting in the Small Blind at a table of seven, no one raises ahead of us.  We think a moment about these cards, and decide it's time to make a move.

"Raise - a thousand," we say.  That's on top of the 200, but no one makes a fuss over that (see our previous post).  Only two players decide to take us on -- a mother and son, we believe.

ON THE FLOP: Q-J-9

The cards are all black, but the presence of top pair looks golden to us.  Our opponents check, but we make a follow-up bet of 1,000.  That chases the son away, but Mom takes us on by calling.

"You ought to just go all-in," the player to our right suggests quietly.  He hasn't seen our cards.

"It's the frog in the pot theory," we explain -- as in slowly turning up the heat.

ON THE TURN: K

Now our pair comes with a large side order of trouble.  Four cards now are showing for a straight.  We check out of caution -- only to see Mom bet 2,000.  Maybe the man to our right knew what he was talking about!

We have 2,175 remaining, which makes this an agonizing decision.  We look at our opponent for a clue.  She simply smiles for a moment, then puts the "poker face" back on.  Something tells us she's bluffing - and we've played her enough in the past to know she might.  After a long thought, we accept that reasoning.  We call.

ON THE RIVER: 10

Our opponent openly disapproves of this card.  It puts a straight on the table, and we have the Ace to make a top straight.  Our move is obvious: all in for the last 175 we have.  She calls.

"I had the Ace and the 10," she says as she shows.  Our read was wrong, but the river bails us out.  We split the pot, actually gaining a bit to 5,350.

We were moved back to our original table minutes later, and saw another chance to hit it big.  Pocket Kings came to us in lead position, and we bet 1,000 with them on the flop after limping in.  But that flop brought a Queen, and a man with pocket Queens eventually moved us all-in.  He led all the way, made a full house and sent us packing in 18th place.

MINISTRY MOMENT: A man came to one of our tables tonight with a new tattoo of John 3:16 on his left arm.  No, we don't mean the words "John 3:16."  The entire verse is on his arm -- plus the Scripture reference.  (He wouldn't allow us to take a photograph, but it looks different from our illustration posted by a tattoo artist.)

We know some Christian ministers who still can't accept the idea of wearing "W.W.J.D.?" wristbands.  This approach goes even farther -- and unless he chooses to go through the pain of tattoo removal later, it's a permanent commitment to these classic words:
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. - John 3:16 (KJV)
We've mentioned before that we're skeptical about tattoos for Biblical reasons.  This is not the sort of thing we'd personally put on our body.  But just as poker players become "pot-committed" with a big investment in a hand (as we did above), Jesus does desire a full commitment from His followers.
Still another said, "I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say good-by to my family."  Jesus replied, "No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God." - Luke 9:61-62
To borrow from a pro football legend's autobiography: God should come first.  Friends and family come second.  Then you come third.  Is that your order in life?

UPDATED POKER SCOREBOARD: 123 final tables in 348 nights (35.3%) - 19 cashes.

NATIONAL LEAGUE OF POKER TOTAL: Full tournaments - 267 point wins in 1,147 games (23.3%), 82 final tables, 10 cashes, 10 outright wins. No-River Hold 'em - 11 point wins in 48 games (22.9%), 10 final tables, 1 cash for a win.

The full-tournament week score was quite misleading -- as in midday "speed freerolls" with about 800 players, we finished in the top 50 four times.  NLOP used to award points in those tourneys (and we'd easily earn money in casinos), but not anymore.

POKER STARS.NET TOTAL: Pretend cash games - $81,941, down $227.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Where Talk Isn't Cheap

"Two hundred," a man said at our table as he announced a raise the other night.  Then he set out 250 chips.

With the blinds at 25/50, he admittedly meant to go 200 above the Big Blind.  But by saying 200 and nothing more, some players thought the total bet was "200 straight" (to borrow some poker slang).

"Verbal overrides the physical," a man next to us said.  That is, a player's words are final -- even if he pushes forward a lot more chips than he says.

The "verbal" explanation struck us as interesting.  "Your words matter more than your actions," we pondered out loud to the man at our left.  "Very few things in life work that way."

"Poker is an exception," he agreed.  An exception to an old phrase: "Actions speak louder than words."  Which approach does Jesus accept?
Why do you call me 'Lord, Lord," and do not do what I say? - Luke 6:46
The Watergate scandal of U.S. politics brought us the phrase, "Don't watch what we say; watch what we do."  God wants our doing to match our saying.  Otherwise, look at the example you're following....
You believe that there is one God.  Good!  Even the demons believe that -- and shudder. - James 2:19
James goes on to write a believer's faith should be accompanied by good deeds (or "works" in the King James).  So does that mean the words we say never matter?  No - Jesus would disagree with that as well.
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
In poker, your "walk" has to match your "talk."  May your life do the same thing -- and move carefully in both areas of your life.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Poker Night 347: If It Feels Good....

People come across this blog for all sorts of reasons.  We met a man tonight who said he found out about poker games in the Columbus, Georgia area through our blog.  He sat across the table from us at The Red Barn, and he won a few pots through aggressive betting.  But would that approach work for us?

BLINDS: 500/1,000

IN THE POCKET: A-10 of clubs

The first hour of play went fairly well for us.  A high pocket pair gained us one pot.  Then K-9 right before the break brought a winning pair of Kings and a "Rodney bonus" of 5,000.

We began Hour 2 at 18,000 chips, but lost a good bit chasing big hands after that.  Now we're in the Big Blind with 12,000.  Only five players are at our table.  Others are coming, to make it a semifinal table.  No one has raised in front of us.  Even though these cards are high and suited, we choose to lay low and check.

ON THE FLOP: 9s-Qd-Jd

This is a tempting flop, as we have a "gutshot" draw for the top straight.  (We don't even notice an 8 would work every bit as well.)  We check in lead position, but a man to our immediate left offers 1,500.  He's bet into several hands with mere speculation, and we have this feeling a big hand is coming.  So even though two players call in front of us, we call as well.

ON THE TURN: Jh

Close, but not quite.  We check again.  The man to our left offers 1,500 again.  This is low enough to keep us in the hunt.  So we call, as do the other two players.

ON THE RIVER: Kd

Jackpot!  Our hunch is proven right.  So we don't hesitate.  "I'm all-in," we declare -- plunking down our remaining 9,000 chips.

The man who had been betting is taken aback by this.  He ponders a moment, then shakes his head and folds.  The woman next to him folds as well.  The dealer calls -- but we still feel good, and we've got our clinching line ready to go.

"You can call me...."

"I've got a flush," the dealer says without listening to us.  He flips over two diamonds.

"....the Rivercenter, because I'm on...."  We fade out the reference to Broadway before the sentence ends.  To our surprise, our straight is topped and our night is over in 16th place.

Yet the dealer isn't satisfied.  "I was one F****NG card away from a royal flush!"  One of his diamonds was the 10.  So he doesn't get a 5,000-chip bonus for that, but he still gets the win.

Of all the Kings to come out of the deck, the one which landed on the river was the worst.  And to be honest, we never realized that card put three diamonds in play.  We loved the letter, but didn't notice the suit -- although if we had, we probably still would have risked all our chips had the dealer forced it.

MINISTRY MOMENT: "What do you have over there?" that winning dealer asked us a couple of hands earlier.  Did he mean the size of our chip stack?  The 4-4 in our hand, with 5-5-6 showing on the flop?

"I've got a Life Saver," we said holding up our wrapped card protector.  That answer was meant as comedy relief.  But we then explained to a woman sitting to our right, "It reminds me Jesus is my lifesaver -- my hope of salvation."

We didn't ask the woman what she thought of that statement, but she seemed to understand.  It's a desire believers expressed long before Jesus came to Earth.
I wait for your salvation, O Lord, and I follow your commands.... I long for your salvation, O Lord, and your law is my delight. - Psalm 119:166, 174
Did you notice what's connected to salvation in Psalms?  There's commandment-keeping, and delight in God's law.  A poker tournament admittedly can test your loyalty to that law.  For instance....
You shall not covet your neighbor's wife.  You shall not set your desire on your neighbor's house or land, his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor. - Deuteronomy 5:21
This tenth commandment is why we're admittedly reluctant to play cash games for real stakes (even though we've done it several times).  There's a desire for gain.  But it comes with a price -- as other players have to lose money for that gain to happen.  Financial markets work differently; people who buy stock could pay enough to leave the seller with a profit.

As Constitution Day approaches in the U.S., we ask: how much do you delight in law?  Not only the laws of the land, but the ones God established long ago?

UPDATED POKER SCOREBOARD: 123 final tables in 347 nights (35.4%) - 19 cashes.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Mr. Know-It-Some

We'd barely walked in the door of the poker tournament when a young man came alongside us with an unusual request.  Would we go to a certain part of town and buy him some "spices"?

We sensed it was a trick question, but we didn't know exactly what he meant.  So we took the humorous route in responding.  "Like cinnamon?"

No, that wasn't quite it.  The young man then asked if we'd ever been to one particular part of town -- an area which admittedly doesn't have the best reputation.  Yes, we had been there several years ago.  "I went to church with a couple of men, who had Bible studies in their homes."

That wasn't quite the answer that man expected, either.  He moved on -- and then we asked someone sitting nearby if "spices" was a slang term for marijuana.  He said it was not, but explained the word can refer to other things people smoke.  (We found a very different use of the word online.)

So we're admittedly not up on the current drug and pseudo-drug slang.  And to be honest, we don't mind that.  It means we're following some Biblical advice....
Therefore come out from them and be separate, says the Lord.  Touch no unclean thing and I will receive you. - II Corinthians 6:17
We know some Christians who refuse to go to certain locations to play poker, because they have a "bad reputation" -- for illegal drugs or other reasons.  We understand their concern.  Others say you should go "all out," and not visit poker tournaments at all.  But we think Jesus advised a more balanced approach:
My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one.... As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. - John 17:15, 18
Jesus left a "sin-free zone" at God the Father's right hand, and came to a sin-scarred Earth to deliver us from our sins.  In a similar way, believers should go out and tell other people about what Jesus has done -- and what He can do for them.  But in the process, be careful....
Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be you therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves. - Matthew 10:16 (KJV)
Don't let yourself get lured or trapped into something which will cause regret (or even sin) later.  Follow Jesus's instructions to be "the salt of the earth" (Matthew 5:13) - not necessarily the spice.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Poker Night 346: Looks Can Be Deceiving

Maybe it was due to the DNC (Democratic National Convention).  Maybe it was the VMA's (Video Music Awards).  But the poker turnout was sparse at Lil Kim's Cove tonight -- not even enough to fill two tables.  Making the final table should have been easier.  Yet we still had to earn it -- so we were looking for letters, with a different pattern.

BLINDS: 25/50

IN THE POCKET: A-J offsuit

We used to call this combination "Allmendingers" -- before the NASCAR driver with A.J. in his name was suspended for drug use.  They're still good starting cards, early in the evening.  But we decide to limp in with them, waiting to see if others at our table of six raises.  No one does.

ON THE FLOP: 2d-4c-8d

We don't exactly recall the suit of the 4, but we know we don't have diamonds.  Or a pair, for that matter.  We check, and are helped when the entire table checks with us.

ON THE TURN: 9d

Now three diamonds are showing.  But when the players ahead of us check, we sense an opportunity: "200," we say and bet.  A couple of men are wary of us and fold; two other players call.

ON THE RIVER: Jc

Some might say we were bluffing before the river.  Now we really won't, as we've made top pair.  So we increase the bet to 400.  Our remaining opponents apparently were chasing something and missed, so they fold.  We win the pot -- and the only people who know what we really had are reading this blog now.

Other cards paid even bigger dividends for us during the first hour -- as a suited Q-9 turned into three 9's, followed by A-8 leading to triple-8.  But then hands such as A-6 and A-4 went sour, as flops were missed and others bet big.  Our stack dropped from a high in the 19,000 range to about 8,900 at the one-hour break.

Things looked bleak in the second hour when A-K failed to pair on the flop, and we had to fold to big bets.  When we dropped to 4,500, we went all-in with K-K -- but thankfully, they prevailed.  Then we took the very next pot with Q-10, when both cards paired on the flop!  That rallied us to 27,500, providing enough cushion to make the final table.

Once we arrived there, we took a big loss when A-Q failed.  Then we tried another push with 10-10 and 6,500 chips left.  But a player to our left made his own two-pair flop with Q-8, and that was enough to win.  We wound up tied for fifth, as another player was ousted with us.  If that counts as a "top-five finish," it's our second in a row at Lil Kim's.

MINISTRY MOMENT: A surprising compliment came our way during the second hour from a man across the table.  "I've never seen you get mad."

"I realize it's just a game," we answered.  But then we added:  "You haven't seen me when I'm playing online, and my Internet connection fails."

The praise actually belongs to God, if we're able to keep our emotions in check during tournaments.  A "poker face" during a hand is one thing -- and that can be nothing more than a good acting job.  We think an even disposition throughout an evening takes more than that.
Your beauty should not come from outward adornment.... Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight. - I Peter 3:3-4
Peter actually directed these words toward wives.  But we would ask: is God's Spirit sexist?  Aren't the traits of gentleness and quietness good for men to have, as well as women?
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace.... gentleness and self-control.  Against such things there is no law. - Galatians 5:22-23
Peace of mind can lead to a calm quietness, even when the storms of life attack us.  For an example of how Jesus displayed this, read Mark 4:35-41.  Then when you pray for peace -- whether in world events or your family -- pray for God to give you a peaceful Spirit first, to deal with it all.

UPDATED POKER SCOREBOARD: 123 final tables in 346 nights (35.5%) - 19 cashes.

NATIONAL LEAGUE OF POKER TOTAL: Full tournaments - 266 point wins in 1,135 games (23.4%), 82 final tables, 10 tournament wins, 10 cashes.  No-River Hold 'em - 10 point wins in 47 games (21.3%), 9 final tables, 1 win.

We came close to victory in a No-River tournament on Labor Day, finishing fourth out of 108 players.

POKER STARS.NET TOTAL: Pretend cash games - $82,168, down $172.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Poker Night 345: Paul Revere and the Pot Raiders

The Dallas (Arlington?!) Cowboys and New York (Jersey?!) Giants had the attention of pro football fans tonight -- even those who gathered to play poker at Soho Bar and Grill.  In fact, the Tournament Director became so caught up in the opening night action that he was seven minutes late in calling one blind increase!

We went to Soho due to a change in our weekly routine.  But New England Patriots sprang to our mind at one point -- and not the football team....

BLINDS: 200/400

IN THE POCKET: 9-9

Did you ever have one of those nights -- when you can't even catch cards with a fishing net?  That's been our lot tonight.  A-K came early, but we had to fold it due to a missed flop and a player betting big with two pair.  Hands such as A-6 have fallen short as well.  Now we're dealing, the one-hour break is approaching and we finally have a fairly nice pocket pair.

Pre-flop raises have been common at our table of six, and a woman across from us raises to 800.  Players to our left start throwing out chips to call -- but as dealer, we have to tell them to wait.  Why?

"I'm going all-in," we explain.  There aren't many chips to count, but the total comes to 1,775 -- which reminds us of a classic poem an old church buddy used to recite by memory:

On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-five;
Hardly a man is now alive 
Who remembers that famous day and year, of the midnight ride of Paul Revere.

We think we puzzled other players by repeating that bit of U.S. historic literature about the year 1775.  A couple of them don't care; they're calling anyway.  We stand to "triple up" at least, if our pair stands.

ON THE FLOP: 7-Q-8

Two players to our left check.  But the woman who raised pre-flop goes all-in herself -- with a chip stack much larger than ours.  We smell big trouble.  So do those other players, who fold.  The woman then confirms it, by turning over a Queen.  We need help.

ON THE TURN: 7

"Two pair," a man to our left says hopefully.  But we're still losing.

ON THE RIVER: 5

Our "patriot game" is over.  The woman makes us walk the plank and out the door -- finishing sixth at our table of eight.

MINISTRY MOMENT: For several weeks we've taken a wrapped Life Saver candy to poker tables.  But only tonight did a good opportunity arise to refer to it -- when that winning woman responded to a raise by saying "Jesus!"

"He's my hope of salvation," we said holding up our card protector.  "He's my Life Saver.  Is he yours?" we then asked a man sitting next to her.

The man agreed with our statement, albeit a bit reluctantly.  "Who else is there?" we then asked.  Before you try to come up with an answer, consider these words of Jesus....
For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. - Luke 9:24
This verse reminds us of a TV evangelist who appealed for money 25 years ago by implying God would kill him if the funds didn't come.  "Won't you save my life??" he pleaded at one point in his telecast.

No, we didn't -- and considered that program a terrible Christian example.  As hard as scientists try and we might watch our weight, death is inevitable for all humans.  (Even the minister who made that appeal died in 2009.)  The only way to have a life beyond this one is to give yourself over to Jesus, accepting Him as your Savior.
It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God -- that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. - I Corinthians 1:30
I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth, And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God. - Job 19:25-26
For the believer, seeing Jesus face-to-face with an immortal body will be sweeter than any roll of candy.

UPDATED POKER SCOREBOARD: 122 final tables in 345 nights (35.4%) - 19 cashes.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Liar, Liar, Deck on Fire

It's admittedly an article about romantic relationships.  But when we found an article online today about how to spot a liar, we couldn't help thinking about poker.

So spill to us: when you're at the table, what tips you off to someone bluffing - or outright lying about a hand?  You can be confidential if you wish.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Double Your Fun?

This time it was NLOP's fault.  The poker site's computer had some kind of hiccup during a tournament, and everyone was locked out.  National League of Poker suspended play for about 30 minutes, then resumed where things stopped - an Internet poker version of a "rain delay."

But when we returned to the action, suddenly we faced more action than we expected.  Somehow we were entered into not one sit-n-go table, but three - and a separate "point play tournament" on top of that.  We left one game, and came back to about five!

We decided to forgo the sit-n-goes, but kept trying in the two tournaments.  That meant we were at multiple tables simultaneously, which we never had tried before.  This is nothing for some online poker pros, who have computers set up for four or five games at once.  But that would be an easy day for some chess masters; we've read about exhibitions where they go from table to table, taking on 20 opponents or more at a time.

There's a reason why we've tried to avoid MPD - what we jokingly might call Multiple Poker Disorder.  Believe it or not, it's found in Scripture....
A double minded man is unstable in all his ways. - James 1:8 (KJV)
 No servant can serve two masters,.  Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other.... - Luke 16:13
It's better to stay focused on one thing at a time, if at all possible.  That may sound old-fashioned in an era when "multi-tasking" is common and almost expected, but it's what the Bible recommends.  But the verses we quoted actually go far beyond that.  To finish the words of Jesus:
....You cannot serve both God and Money.... What is highly valued among men is detestable in God's sight. - Luke 16:13b, 15
Some poker games include "straddling," where players post double the big blind before the flop -- often without looking at their cards.  It might make pots more interesting, but it's an approach God will not allow when it comes to spiritual matters.  We can't straddle the fence; we must come down on one side or the other.
But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom, you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living.  But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord. - Joshua 24:15
Joshua came down on the side of "Jehovah," the Lord who led Israel out of Egypt.  That's the side we recommend as well -- because when the day of judgment comes, there still will be no straddlers.
All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.  He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. - Matthew 25:32-33
Read on through the end of chapter 25 to see what a difference it makes to be a "sheep" or a "goat."  The difference is enormous.

So how did we do on our two-tourney night?  Better than we expected, actually.  The point play tournament had 83 players, and we almost won points by finishing 12th.  But our top priority was the game for money we originally entered -- and a couple of Tuesday nights ago, we went all the way to second place out of 398 players to win cash!

So yes, we could engage in a little MPD and be successful at it.  But it's not what we recommend, and not what the Bible seems to recommend.  Besides, what if the games have different break times and you need to use the restroom?