One stop was the heads-up Texas Hold 'em computer machine. We've played it before - sometimes for nice gains, other times for big losses.
IN THE POCKET: K-2 of hearts
We put a $20 bill in the machine to get started. After a couple of bad deals, we're starting with $15. The machine likes to raise pre-flop, perhaps to scare opponents off. In this case, we dare to call a raise to 4. We don't use "K-2," but we sometimes play it.
ON THE FLOP: 2-A-K
If this is "slot machine" poker, two pair might as well be a jackpot. We check - and sure enough, the machine bets $2. We raise in this minimum-raise format, and in seconds we're all in for $11. (We tried to insert another $20 to heighten the stakes, but could not.)
ON THE TURN: 10
The computer shows A-7! Our two pair beats its one.
ON THR RIVER: 6
The gamble pays off, and we're up $26.
But K-2 came again on the next hand, and we should have realized what was coming. We hurt ourselves by pressing the "bet/raise" button when we meant to call - and we wound up with nothing, while the computer made a 6-high straight. We should have left well enough alone, as we wound up losing $17.
MINISTRY MOMENT: Before the computer challenge, we sat down for blackjack with a real dealer. Only three players were at the table at 8:30 a.m. on a Sunday - but the player across from us was in a gambling mood.
"Can I play your poker?" he asked us. It took three times for us to understand what he meant. The table had a small circle for placing bets in "three-card poker." If your first two cards and the dealer's "up card" complete a poker hand such as a straight or flush, you get paid 9:1.
That man turned our spot into a jackpot a couple of times, while we chose to keep it vacant. The man was kind enough to let us keep $5 of his $45 gain.
What an unusual way to practice giving -- doing it without our fully realizing what was happening. But consider this verse:
All day long he craves for more, but the righteous give without sparing. - Proverbs 21:26Admittedly taking this verse a bit out of context, the man across the table "craved for more" - seeking gain so much that he entered our "turf" and made money from it! We gave him the opportunity to do it. Then he gave us an 11-percent share of his winnings.
Good will come to him who is generous and lends freely, who conducts his affairs with justice. Surely he will never be shaken; a righteous man will be remembered forever. - Psalm 112:5-6
We'll claim this as a promise from God, and try to be just in our conduct at the table - no matter where that table might be.