Thursday, December 31, 2015

The Real Story: 2015 in Review

Some people may be ready for 2015 to end.  But when it comes to poker, we're really not.

We entered the year having won money in live tournaments 25 times over eight years - with no cash for ten prior months.  But 2015 turned out to be our most successful year.... ever!

LIVE TOURNAMENTS: 18 final tables in 22 games (81.8%), 6 cashes.

That percentage is ridiculously high, because a lot of the tournaments we played only had enough people for one table. But our records show in multi-table tournaments, we still reached the final table seven out of 12 times (58.3%).

The cashes included two streaks.  One in late July and early August found us winning $1,000 in three consecutive events across Kansas. And we ended the year with back-to-back cash wins between Thanksgiving and "Christmas Eve."

LIVE CASH GAMES: One - loss of C$85.

We realize this is not our strong suit, so we don't do it much anymore - only during our Canadian "church convention" vacation.

OTHER CASINO GAMES: Ultimate Texas Hold 'em - Up $12.50.  Computer machine heads-up - Down $17.  Blackjack - Up $62.50.

Considering we lost $280 at Ultimate in 2014, this was a nice reversal. Blackjack had a small increase from the year before. The Texas Hold 'em "heads up" machine at Hollywood Casino may have been removed after we visited there in March; we couldn't find it in August.

NATIONAL LEAGUE OF POKER: Regular - none.  No-River Hold 'em - 1 final table in 4 games, one cash win.

That $10 win came in February. We had a tenth-place tournament at another tournament in mid-December, but that's not a final table because NLOP has gone to a "six-per-table" format there.

POKER STARS: Play money cash games - Up $20,183.

That huge boost came in only 24 sessions, primarily because of two huge hands. One in late July at a 50/100 table led to a $20,700 profit (our live table streak started the next day) - and another in late August at a 25/50 table earned up close to $7,000.

So to sum up, 2015 was the best poker-playing year we've had - and it happened even though we didn't play often, compared with recent years. Could there be a lesson in that for you? We'll leave that question open. In the meantime, we realize....
But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth... - Deuteronomy 8:18

Some people "produce wealth" through hard labor, or smart investing. But we think God can help you make money in a variety of ways - as long as your focus and thanks is aimed toward Him.
The blessing of the Lord brings wealth, and he adds no trouble to it. - Proverbs 10:22

May God's blessing be upon you, as you play poker. But we think that blessing is much more likely to come to if God is in the center of your life.
You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you. - Isaiah 26:3

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Poker Day 460: Double Your Pleasure?

So if we could win money playing poker on "Christmas Eve," could we sweep the weekend and win on "Christmas Day"? We decided to find out by driving to Kansas Star Casino. It's had a "High Noon" Friday tournament all year. But in a potentially troubling sign, it's being phased out - and the poker room has moved to a place with only eight tables, instead of 13.

BLINDS: 100/200

IN THE POCKET: A-10 of diamonds

We won an early pot with pocket 6's, but haven't done much beyond that. Hopeful chances have turned into problematic folds. We've reached the first break, but with only 1,000 chips out of a starting 3,500.

A change of dealers during the break has done us a favor. We were supposed to be in the Big Blind for this hand. Instead, the button was accidentally moved twice so we're in the Small Blind. Either way, this is a pushing hand for us. When one man raises to 300, we go all in. He calls.... and shows A-Q. Uh-oh.

ON THE FLOP: K-9-3 (middle card may not be precise)

No help for anyone - and no diamonds to let us dream of a flush.


The board pairs, and actually gives us some hope. If a second pair comes....


It does come! Two pair + Ace kicker = split pot. Too bad the other players folded, because our gain is small - from 1,000 to 1,200. But at least we escaped to fight another hand.

And on that next hand, A-10 came again. Again we bet the bundle, and the Small Blind called.

"Second verse, same as the first?!" We borrowed from an old pop song as we showed.

Well, not quite. Our opponent turned over A-J. The board didn't pair for either of us, and he knocked us out. No sweep this weekend, as we finished 27th out of 42 players - but at least we won back $35 of our $50 buy-in playing Ultimate Texas Hold 'em.
MINISTRY MOMENT: "Sir, that's a very unusual card protector," a man to our right said as the first hand was dealt. We used a small salt packet.... for that very inquiry.

"I brought it to remind me," we said as we looked at cards and folded them, "that Jesus wants me to be the salt of the earth."

The man simply stared, perhaps chuckling a little. "What do you think of Jesus?" we asked him. "What does he mean to you?"

The man stared a few more seconds, said nothing, then turned back to the poker action. We can only guess what he thought of us. Perhaps he thought we'd pulled a Christianized version of "Punk'd" on him.

But the Bible really does say:
You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men. - Matthew 5:13

We're simply trying to add some flavor to a poker table that might otherwise be drab and quiet - and we're ready to talk about the things of God at the table. On this day, that man said nothing. But the day is coming when that's going to have to change....
....That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. - Philippians 2:10-11

We get the feeling this means every tongue - without exception. And if they don't confess? Read Revelation 20 for an idea of the answer. So how do you plan to respond?

UPDATED POKER SCOREBOARD: 173 final tables in 460 games (37.6%) - 31 cashes. Our next scheduled post will wrap up the final totals from our 2015 poker activity.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Poker Day 459: Nikki's at Night

Unless you're specifically looking for it, you might not find it after dark. Nikki's Poker Room has no lighting, save for a neon "Open" sign. Yet that's where we went tonight for the first time, thanks to an off night from work for.... well, we may bring up that "holiday" another time.

We walked into a room unlike any other in our city - in part because it has a full bar with drink specials. We settled for a $2 diet cola. Nikki's also has the least expensive tournaments in town. We only had a $12 buy-in tonight for 15,000 chips with slowly rising blinds. In other words, this place reminded us of our old Thursday night habit of playing poker in a Georgia bar - but could we play well?

BLINDS: 500/1,000


We took a disciplined approach to this tournament, and it worked to our advantage. We didn't win a pot for more than an hour, and that first one actually was a split. Yet we reached the first break after 90 minutes on the "plus side," at 17,000 chips. Now we're in the Small Blind, and no one's raising at a full table.  We call; about half the players are in.

ON THE FLOP: 9-3-8

A perfectly well-disguised three of a kind for us! So we lay low and check. Trouble is, everyone checks.


Sitting first in line to act, part of us wants to bet now - but we decide to check again. Sure enough, someone jumps in - as a man across the table who's showing a bit of an attitude bets 2,000. He gets called.

"Raise - 5,000," we say quietly. That man calls; the other players step aside.


That card may smell like trouble (as in a straight), but we're not looking at it that way. We want to make a big move, so we bet 10,000 (about half our remaining stack). Our opponent calls.

"I've got two pair," he says - showing 10-8. (He also was on a flush draw, which he missed.)

"Abdul-Jabbars," we like to say of 3-3. Our opponent looks pained, as we claim a huge pot.

As we recall, that put our chip stack at 72,000 - enough to reach the final table on a night with two full ones. Weak cards hurt after that, until we went all in for 23,000 with A-10. The board displayed two pair, Q's and 7's - and our Ace kicker allowed us to jump to 101,000!

"Bet you didn't expect that to happen," a man across from us said. Indeed, he was right. And we had another low tide in chips later - but playing tightly and carefully allowed us to hang on and reach the money!

Three players were paid on this night - and as better cards came, our chip stack reached a match-high 291,000. At that point, a man across from us proposed splitting the prize money. We had the lead and could have claimed $82 for first place, but we agreed to a three-way split: $53 per player, with $1 extra for a dealer tip.

"You wore me out," one of the finalists said as the night ended. It turned out to be a four-hour contest, and we played with only about three hours of sleep. But caffeine and M&M's can work wonders - along with blessings from God, of course.

MINISTRY MOMENT: Since it was Christmas Eve night, the holiday came up in the discussion. "I can't wait for the 26th, for the carols to end," the dealer admitted.

"What gets me," we admitted to the table, "is how some people demand you say 'Merry Christmas.' I want to tell them: Show me in the Bible where someone says 'Merry Christmas'."

Uh-oh - did that comment surprise you?  Perhaps you expect a blog about a poker-playing Christian to wholeheartedly endorse Christmas.  But the fact that we went to a poker room instead of a "Midnight Mass" should have tipped you off right away that our view is different.

In fact, we'll throw our challenge out to you. Can you find a place in the Bible where someone says, "Merry Christmas" - or even "Happy Holidays"? If you can, please leave a comment and let us know. If you can't, consider these words....
Every word of God is flawless.... Do not add to his words, or he will rebuke you and prove you a liar. - Proverbs 30:5-6

A lot of people have added to the words of God, probably without even realizing it. We think one example of that is the "War on Christmas" - going to great lengths to fight for a holiday which is never specifically mentioned in Scripture.

This admittedly puts us in a camp with atheists - but we'd rather be true to what God says, than add myths and fables which give people wrong ideas. Yes, we're thankful for Jesus Christ and all He does for us. But we try to do that in a way which upholds the Biblical example. After all, that's what Jesus left for us to follow.

UPDATED POKER SCOREBOARD: 173 final tables in 459 games (37.7%) - 31 cashes. This makes a record six cash wins in live tournaments this year, plus one online at National League of Poker. Our total earnings for 2015 now are above $1,200!

Sunday, December 20, 2015

The All-In Moment

In a perfect poker tournament, the winner might never have to go all-in. That player would slowly build a chip stack into a dominating position, then put others all-in victoriously.

But really now - can you think of any tournaments where that's happened? We'd guess it's a rare occurrence. Part of the drama in poker is that big stacks meet bigger stacks, and small stacks can take down big ones.

Away from the table, though, we'd like to ask: How many times have you gone all-in?  As in risking everything you have on something, with no guarantee of success?

You may have done it without realizing it - such as taking a spouse in marriage or buying a house. Those moments likely can be scary. Yet that's what God wants all of us to do, for Him.
God, whom I serve with my whole heart in Preaching the gospel of his Son, is my witness.... Romans 1:9

The apostle Paul declared he was not half-hearted. No minimum bets here. His whole heart was all-in. He went on to write....
Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. - I Corinthians 15:58

Note how we're supposed to give ourselves - fully, not holding back anything. Some churches put it this way: Is your "all" on the altar?

To help you, well, more fully understand this, we offer a Bible study called "All-In." If you think the speaker is going to bring up poker right away.... well, listen to it. You might be surprised.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

The Book on Daniel

How do you know when you've made the poker "big time?" These days, you might not have to win the WSOP Main Event. One modern sign of greatness is having your life story turned into a documentary.

Daniel Negreanu was the subject of a 90-minute film on Canada's TSN a couple of weeks ago, followed by his own Twitter chat. While we haven't seen the movie, KidPoker reportedly is about how Negreanu went from Las Vegas rookie to consistent winner and media star.

In one interview, Negreanu offered some of his advice for poker success:

“It’s trial and error to an extent -- not crying about what happens but getting on with it. So what if I got a pair of aces and lost? It happens. Keep going.”

When some poker players endure a big loss, they go "on tilt."  They bet wildly with an "I don't care" attitude (and sometimes they really don't) - which can be dangerous for everyone else, especially if that approach turns into a comeback.

Yet Negreanu's words speak of a more disciplined approach. We think it's also more Biblically-grounded.
Do not lie in wait like an outlaw against a righteous man's house, do not raid his dwelling place; for though a righteous man falls seven times, he rises again, but the wicked are brought down by calamity. - Proverbs 24:15-16

For years we've taken verse 16 as advice for someone who "falls" into sin - and we think the advice is valid. We need to climb out of our sinful hole and return to a righteous walk:
If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. - I John 1:8-9

Yet after looking at verses 15 and 16 together, we think there's a different point to that part of Proverbs: sinful people shouldn't spend their time trying to ruin the lives of righteous people. If they continue in a righteous walk, God can restore their losses and bless them even more. Consider Job, who was allowed by God to face extreme hardship from the devil:
After Job had prayed for his friends, the Lord made him prosperous again and gave him twice as much as he had before... The Lord blessed the latter part of Job's life more than the first. - Job 42:10, 12

Compare verse 12 with Job 1:2, and you'll find his livestock "chip stack" doubled.

So the lesson of Daniel (as in Negreanu) as the same as that of Proverbs and Job. Don't get so down in the dumps from a big loss that you surrender everything that matters. "Keep going," Negreanu says - and we'd add: go in a right godly direction.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

The One and Only

We don't play poker online very often these days. But on a chilly, rainy December Sunday with things to do, we did. And we did well - tenth places out of 145 players in National League of Poker No-River Hold 'em. (Only first place won money.)

As we played, this happened after we won a big pot....

MikeSiegrist:  vnh
Me:  Thanks
Me:  Needed that - BBS
Dealer:  DasLaz wins Main Pot ($975)
Me:  PTL
MikeSiegrist:  poker god likes you
Me:  The One God does. Thankfu[l]ly.

"BBS" is short for Big Blind Special - as we hit a winning flush.  PTL, of course, stands for "Praise  the Lord." And we give Mike credit for referring to a singular poker "god."  Some players talk like there are many, but....
Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. - Deuteronomy 6:4

Jesus Christ quoted this verse when He walked the earth (Mark 12:29). But here's the thing - some people took Jesus's words to mean He was proclaiming Himself to be God.
"I tell you the truth," Jesus answered, "before Abraham was born, I am!" - John 8:58

That "I am" is a reference to the name God gave Himself in an encounter with Moses (Exodus 3:14). Is it possible Jesus really could have been calling Himself God?  The answer is....
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.... The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.... - John 1:1, 14

 The "One God" expresses Himself as both a Father and a Son who was named Jesus Christ. As the Son said elsewhere....
I and my Father are one. - John 10:30

Jesus dared to put Himself on the same level as God the Father. Are you ready to accept that - and live according to what Jesus said in the Bible?

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Right or Wrong? Part 5

We're concluding our meditations from a radio ministry's sermon on gambling.

6. Gambling transgresses the principle of work. The minister based this point on a couple of familiar Bible verses....
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

It's tempting to joke poker players use "hands" all the time - from the first hand of the tournament on.

But seriously: if you've spent hours in a cash game or lasted deep into a tournament, have you felt a bit drained when it was over? Grinding things out hand-over-hand admittedly has felt like work to us at times. It's a different kind of work compared to road construction, of course. But the stress can be there -- along with the pressure to constantly make alert and proper decisions.

We'd again make a distinction between poker games and other forms of gambling, such as slot machines and dice tables. Poker normally takes more thought and care in making decisions.

7. Gambling transgresses the principle of providence. We turned this point from the preacher into a separate recent study on the Hebrew word "Gad," which means "fortune."  But we're led to ask: cannot one person's "providence" be another person's "luck"?
...Be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes the sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. - Matthew 5:45

To the believer, God can provide blessings (or great cards) at the right time and in the right way. To the non-believer, back-to-back pocket Aces are simply a case of a poker player defying long odds. It all boils down to your perspective - or as some politicians and ministers like to say, your "world view."
The blessing of the Lord brings wealth, and he adds no trouble to it. - Proverbs 10:22

If you're blessed with success at a poker tournament, look on it as the "blessing" it is - and give God thanks for it. But keep in mind....
A faithful man will be richly blessed, but one eager to get rich will not go unpunished. - Proverbs 28:20

8. Gambling places are surrounded by immorality - such as anger, drunkenness and crime.

We can see the preacher's point here. But sadly, the world is filled with immoral conduct - even in places which have no casinos or poker rooms at all.
In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil men and imposters will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. - II Timothy 3:12-13

As we write this, the U.S. is reeling from violent crimes in place where people never expected it would happen - a women's clinic in Colorado Springs and a services center in San Bernardino, California. Let's be honest: sinful and immoral acts can happen anywhere. Some places simply hide it better than others.

Yet the early church flourished in immoral places. The apostle Paul oversaw a group in Corinth - a place known for wickedness and sin. Instead of casting it aside, God planted believers and allowed them to grow. We're just silly (or faith-filled enough) to think God can do that in a poker community as well.

We conclude our review of Adrian Rogers's message there. But your comments are welcome, if you'd like to keep the conversation going.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Right or Wrong? Part 4

We continue our meditations from a radio ministry's sermon on gambling.

5. Gambling transgresses love. Hoping to win money by causing pain or loss to others is NOT love, the preacher said - because you wind up "victimizing" your neighbor.

The pastor quoted the "two great commands" of Jesus to back this statement (Matthew 22:37-40) - but we thought of a scripture he never quoted, which might apply to his point better:
Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. - Romans 13:10

Perhaps we should learn a lesson from other poker players here. If they have a huge hand (or at least want to pretend they do), they warn their opponents. They might say, "Don't waste your money! You're asking for trouble!" or similar phrases, before the showdown comes. They might be offering a "loving warning" so their opponent doesn't take a big loss.

But wait, you might be saying - doesn't a "loving God" sometimes allow hurt and harm to come to His children?  The answer is yes. And there's a purpose behind it:
...My son, do not make light of the Lord's discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son. - Hebrews 12:5-6

Yet we think the Bible makes a distinction. God might use other poker players to carry out discipline - but that does NOT mean we should intentionally try to carry it out FOR Him. That can be presumptive.
Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," says the Lord. - Romans 12:19

That chapter goes on to recommend treating "enemies" with a good and giving spirit (verses 20-21) - waiting for God to do whatever He wants to do, in His good timing.

(NOTE: This is a series of posts; keep checking here for the next part.)

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Right or Wrong? Part 3

We continue our meditations from a radio ministry's sermon on gambling.

3. The vast majority of gamblers lose.

We haven't done research on this, but we suspect it's true. That's how casinos make a profit, after all. We've wondered in recent years why several casinos in Atlantic City have closed. Have more people realized they're losing, so they don't play anymore?  Or are people actually getting better at the games?

But here's our issue with that point. The minister tried to make comparisons with investing in business - yet statistics show most start-up businesses fail as well. They fail at a slower rate than gamblers (ten years vs. a ten-day junket), but 71 percent eventually fail.

But our link had an amazing note about which kind of business has the "best rate of success after [the] fifth year." It's religious organizations. In other words, doing things for God pays off!
I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. - I Corinthians 3:6-7
The apostle Paul is referring here to church growth, with new people becoming converted. But there's a principle here that religious organizations should understand better than anyone - that it's only by God's grace and mercy that anything grows. If that's true with church membership, why shouldn't it be true with a business? Or even success at a poker table, for those who believe God?

4. Gambling transgresses honesty. The preacher called it thievery "by mutual consent."

This may be true in back-alley dice-rolling and basement poker nights.  But many poker rooms and casinos take pains to ensure everything is on the up-and-up - like the day we had to take a one-blind penalty for acting too soon in a tournament.
A truthful witness gives honest testimony, but a false witness tells lies. - Proverbs 12:17
This point really comes to your personal ethics. Are you honest with your words and actions at a poker table? Or do you lie (if that's too harsh, "shade the truth" a bit) to get your way?

It's our policy always to be truthful during poker tournaments. Sometimes that means saying nothing, when an opponent asks probing questions about our hand.
Do not be quick with your mouth, do not be hasty in your heart to utter anything before God. God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few. - Ecclesiastes 5:2
We think it's better to say nothing and protect your reputation than tell a lie and risk ruining it.

(NOTE: This is a series of posts; keep checking here for the next part.)

Friday, December 4, 2015

Right or Wrong? Part 2

We continue our meditations from a radio ministry's sermon on gambling.

2. Investing and gambling are different things. The preacher argued purchasing stocks is a way for both businesses and shareholders to produce wealth, while the vast majority of gamblers lose.

We agree with the pastor on this, to the extent that there are good and bad investments every bit as much as there are good and bad "gambles." For instance, we know a couple which lost a lot of money after being persuaded to invest in pineapple farming.

We can't think of any poker players who say they've made money from slot machines at casinos. The odds of winning at those things simply are too steep. But wise poker players realize when they have the best chances of winning a hand. They "do the math" in their head, and compute the odds of making a flush draw or filling a full house.

The minister referred in passing to a classic parable of Jesus. It hit us along these lines a couple of years ago, like it never had before....
To one he gave five talents of money, to another two talents, and to another one talent, each according to his ability. The he went on his journey. The man who had received the five talents went at once and put his money to work and gained five more.- Matthew 25:15-16

The parable doesn't say exactly how that man doubled his money. But what happened when the giver returned from his journey?  Did Mr. Journeyman he call the "double-up" man greedy and covetous?
The man who had received the five talents brought the other five. "Master," he said, "you entrusted me with five talents. See, I have gained five more." His master replied, "Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!" - Matthew 25:20-21

The double-up man was praised for his gain - and given an extra reward of being "in charge of many things!" Compare that with another man in the parable, who took a much more "conservative" approach:
But the man who had received the one talent went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master's money... "Master," he said, "I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. So I was afraid and went out and hid your talent in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you."  - Matthew 25:18, 24-25

Mr. One-Talent admittedly was motivated by fear - not only because he might lose everything, but he apparently knew some dark secrets about Mr. Journeyman.
His master replied, "You wicked, lazy servant!... you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest." - Matthew 25:26-27

Mr. Journeyman wanted at least a little something for his talent. Doing nothing with it was not an acceptable option.
"And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth." - Matthew 25:30

The fearful man was declared disqualified from the "master's happiness" others received. As a man told us simply during a poker night years ago: "Scared money don't win."

Sitting at a poker table all night without playing a hand eventually will cost you money. You'll be "blinded out" every few hands, and maybe lose antes as well. The object of the game is to make "money" or chips, by handling it properly when the moment comes - a lot like stock investing. That's one big difference we see between playing poker and generic "gambling" on slots or greyhounds.

(NOTE: This will be a series of posts, so keep checking here for the next part.)

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Right or Wrong?

Several weeks ago we referred to a radio message by a deceased Baptist pastor on whether gambling is right or wrong. (A link at the earlier post may call up that message, so you can listen to it.)

It's really the ultimate question for some people, when it comes to playing poker. If God doesn't gamble, believers should not. If He does.... well, we don't hear that many "religious people" dare to say that.

We've now used that Adrian Rogers message for several days of careful Bible study. He tried to make several points against gambling - and probably by extension, against playing poker in casinos. We invite you to meditate with us on some of them, over the next few posts.

1. Gambling is different from risk-taking.  The pastor noted all things we do in life have risks - and that's true. Even a walk down a flight of stairs can be disastrous, if you're not careful.
Whoever watches the wind will not plant; whoever looks at the clouds will not reap. - Ecclesiastes 11:4

The minister referred to farming with this verse. Many a farmer has planted a crop, only to see it ruined by drought or flooding rain.

So where does "risk-taking" end and "gambling" begin? The minister indicated the difference lies in what the effort produces. A farmer can bring in a crop, while "nothing is produced" by gambling and the vast majority of players lose.

We agree that a lot of people lose when they gamble. That's why we say if you're not doing well at it, you should probably cut your losses and stop.  In the Internet age, plenty of free online sites let you test your capability at no charge. (Compare that with, well, maybe Farmville on Facebook.)

But we'd also say the same thing about farming, or any other business career. If you're not succeeding, why keep trying something which will lead to a dead end? Consider....
Therefore, in the present case I advise you: Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God. - Acts 5:38-39

This advice was given to the Sanhedrin, which was trying to shut down the first Christian apostles. The group accepted that advice, let the apostles go (verse 40) - and Christianity spread rapidly from there. The Sanhedrin's work seemed proper to them, but God had other ideas.

Like it or not, plenty of poker pros make an income and a living at the game. Whether it's "God's will" for them is not really for us to judge. But whether they realize it or not, they practice a Bible principle:
Cast your bread upon the waters, for after many days you will find it again. - Ecclesiastes 11:1

Not everyone eventually finds it, but some do. That's every bit as true on farms as in casinos.

(NOTE: This will be a series of posts, so keep checking here for the next part.)