Saturday, December 31, 2016

Poker Day 493: If I Only Had a Heart

Christmas ends, and the Valentine's Day stuff goes on sale right away - right? It seemed that way to us Friday, during a tournament at Kansas Star Casino. Follow the cards, and you'll see....

BLINDS: 75/150

IN THE POCKET: 7 of hearts - 7 of clubs

We were only fourth on the waiting list for this tournament, and it had 70 seats. But we still had to wait about 45 minutes before finding a seat. After losing a hand with Q-J and having lousy blinds, we now have about 2,975 chips and sit first to act. We limp in with a pocket pair, and see some hope when no one raises. About five players are in.

ON THE FLOP: 10h-3c-8h

Not the best-looking flop for us. But after we check, so does everyone else. Perhaps they all missed?!


Aha - things now become a whole lot more interesting. We have an open-ended straight flush draw! An opponent bets 225, but we simply have to chase this. We call, and we're heads-up with about a one-in-three chance of hitting something big....


....which means, of course, we also have a two-thirds chance of missing. But after this card, we still have two pair - and we have a hunch our opponent missed as well.

So we take a chance: "300," we bet. Our opponent gives it a good deal of thought - then calls. He could have raised.

"I missed the straight flush," we admit, "but I have two pair."

Thankfully, our hunch is right! The opponent shows A-K (or something similar). He missed it all. We gain a nice pot.

One or two other small pot wins put us at 3,925 chips at the first break, then hit some big cards in the second period such as A-A to take out an opponent. We hit a high of 8,400. But setbacks pushed us back to 5,000 - but at least we reached the second break.

As the blinds climbed, we stayed alive thanks to a couple of walks. Then when we were forced to go all-in for 2,000  the Big Blind, we "checked in the dark" all the way through - then turned over 4-4, which was the only pair anyone had! That started a "miracle" comeback, which included K-K beating A-Q, which pushed us back above 15,000!

But with 13 players left and the final table in view, we made a slip. With a player all-in for 7,000 and with K-J of spades in our pocket, we dared to go all-in for 8,000. One of three players in the race had 7-7, and it prevailed when the board didn't pair for the other two. We finished 12th out of 83 - pretty good, but short of the final table and the top eight for money.

MINISTRY MOMENT will be posted Sunday, as we wrap up 2016.

UPDATED POKER SCOREBOARD: 181 final tables in 493 games (36.7%) - 36 cashes.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Gimme Some Kind of Sign

If poker was like a TV game show (and some TV game shows have been poker-based), the atmosphere would be much different. The players would look to the audience for advice. The crowd would shout "CALL!" or "FOLD!" And peppy band music would play when someone takes a big pot - or maybe buzzers sounding when someone acts out of turn.

But most poker rooms don't work that way. In fact, we can't think of any. Not even online. So players are on their own to make big decisions - and many look for every tiny bit of help they can find.

As we suggested in a recent post, let's consider how to get "messages from above" - in poker or elsewhere. At the table, veteran players try to "read" their opponent. They might ask questions, while looking for gestures from the face or body to give away what they're facing.

A former boss advised us when it came to making decisions on the job, our "gut" would tell us the right thing to do. We admittedly disagreed with that approach:

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked. Who can know it? - Jeremiah 17:9 (KJV)

Yet we also must admit we heard from that same boss many times about wrong decisions we made - even when we prayed for God's wisdom to guide us in the course of a work day. How could that happen? Perhaps the answer is in another part of the Bible:

As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. - Isaiah 55:9

The boss usually was thinking on an "earthy" level. God wants us to think higher - and look to Him.

So how do we do that in poker? Our years at the table have shown we don't always get reads right. (Then again, does anybody?) But in key moments, we've tried to listen for a prompting - one that no one may be able to hear.

Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, "This is the way; walk in it." - Isaiah 30:21

Some say this verse really applies to the coming Kingdom of God which Jesus Christ will bring to Earth. But sometimes we think God has prompted us to make certain moves which have turned out for our good. And yes, we have Scripture to back up such an idea:

After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. - I Kings 19:12

This chapter is about how God encouraged Elijah when he was fearful and on the run. God spoke with "a still small voice," as one Bible translation puts it. That's what we try to hear when we're playing poker.

Sometimes that voice comes through. Sometimes it doesn't. And if we hear it wrong, we do not blame God. We know better than that. We simply ask Him for wisdom to better understand the message next time.

So we end by asking: Are you listening for God's voice in your life - at all? He might have something important to tell you.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Poker Day 492: Worth the Wait?

"Did you take it all?" a complete stranger asked as he passed us in the parking lot this afternoon. We were leaving Kansas Star Casino, heading for our car. We'll reveal our response in a moment, but first let's see how things went today in our first poker tournament there in six weeks:

BLINDS: 100/200


We arrived at the casino 20 minutes early, but almost didn't play at all. We were 14th on the tournament waiting list, and entered 75 minutes into the event. After folding in the blinds, we start this hand with 3,200 chips late in the order. When other players merely call, we go for it with our high pocket pair.

"Raise - 500," we say. We get three takers.


Uh-oh. A bigger face card is not what we wanted to see. And if that's not enough, a player ahead of us bets 500. We're not sure what he has, but we fear what it might be. Still, we call in hopes of improvement. So does a third player.


There's no flush threat. But the players in front of us check. We're rather happy to check as well.


Now we have two pair - but one of our opponents might have the same thing, only better. He bets 1,500. That's more than half our stack. And with that King looking fierce, we decide not to risk it. We fold, and the bettor takes the pot without showing what he has.

Looking back, we wonder if we should have bet more pre-flop. We've seen other players push with pocket Jacks, to scare everyone away. But we tried to maximize our profits, and wound up losing 1,000 chips.

With 1,700 chips left, we tried again with A-K of spades. This time we raised to 700, and a player to our right called. The flop was something like 8-2-9, and his bet of 200 was answered by our going all-in for the last 1,000. The man called, and showed 8-6. "Big Slick" was dominated by a relatively junk hand. And when the board didn't pair for it, we were knocked out in 44th place out of 64 players. Late in, early out.

Oh yes - about the man in the parking lot. We showed him a brownie we bought from the casino deli. "This is my consolation prize," we said, "and at two dollars, it's a pretty good deal." We both laughed at that. It beats crying about our losses.

MINISTRY MOMENT: Our second dealer has come to "know our works," to borrow from a Bible verse (Revelation 3:8). So when he saw our small bottle on the table, he asked.

"What does the bottle of hand sanitizer signify?"

"It's to remind me," we answered, "that I need Jesus to clean me up. Clean up all my sins. That's why He came."

We personally don't keep Christmas, as we've discussed in other posts. But we do believe Jesus was born - and born with a purpose:

Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying, "Sovereign Lord.... my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all people...." - Luke 2:28-31

We can't recall a December where we've heard more messages on radio about Simeon. This "righteous and devout" man (verse 25) somehow was given a special promise:

It had been revealed to Him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord's Christ. - Luke 2:26

"Christ" is not really Jesus's last name. It's the Greek word for "anointed" or "Messiah." The baby Simeon held about a week after Jesus was born was (and is) the Messiah, who came to bring salvation.

She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins. - Matthew 1:21

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade - kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God's Power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. - I Peter 1:3-5

The "coming salvation" ultimately will occur when Jesus comes back to Earth. Believers will have now "spirit bodies," and not need to be cleansed of sin any more. That's good news at any time of year. But are you asking God to clean up your life now, to get the process started?

UPDATED POKER SCOREBOARD: 181 final tables in 492 games (36.8%) - 36 cashes.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

The patience is in

So, you may be asking, what was our secret to success when we won money at a recent poker tournament in Tulsa? Believe it or not, it all started with a grocery trip.

We went to a large famous-name store at mid-morning, and came across several moms trying to keep young children in line. We told ourselves to be a good example, by staying patient with them.

Then we loaded our groceries in the car - and lo and behold, we heard a radio preacher talking about patience. Already we sensed a theme for the day.

As we drove to Tulsa that afternoon, we heard a radio host bring up the very same subject - patience! Now we knew we were getting a message from God. It became the key word on our mind during the evening tournament - and in the end, we had a top-five finish in the money.

The idea of receiving "messages from heaven" is a topic for another day. But right now let's ask: how patient are you at the poker table? Are you impulsive, looking for a quick advantage? Or do you wait for the right moment to make a move?

We think God wants us to lean on the side of waiting. Here's why....

Better a patient man than a warrior, a man who controls his temper than one who takes a city. - Proverbs 16:32

The impulsive player might go "on tilt" and lose composure after a bad beat or a tough loss on the river. There could be a comeback - but more often than not, that player makes a quick exit.

A man's wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense. - Proverbs 19:11

You can't win every single hand in a poker tournament. "Perfect games" are for baseball, and they don't happen very often there. If a loss comes, try to minimize the setback - both in chips and in your mindset.

The end of a matter is better than its beginning, and patience is better than pride. - Ecclesiastes 7:8

That's what happened with us on a Thursday night in Tulsa. The payoff of patience came at the end, although we admittedly nearly lost it while fighting to eliminate a short-stacked man at the final table. The theme of the day helped us to humbly thank God for our ultimate success.

To quote from the radio preacher we mentioned earlier, and the broadcast in our link: "When we are patient, we put ourselves in position with God to receive God's best." Are you willing to have that patience - at the table, and in all your endeavors in life?

Sunday, December 18, 2016

One Game or Another

The bet on the river was substantial - 600 or more, as we recall. And we missed our shot at the best hand.

"As they say on that show," we said pointing at the giant TV screen across the table, "'That's too much!'"

A man to our left knew what we meant right away. We were in a mid-morning poker game where for a change, the casino did not show talking heads discussing sports. They put The Price is Right on the big screen - a game show we admitted in advance would make things awfully distracting for us. (Although, come to think of it, some of the sound effects on The Price is Right would make poker games more entertaining to watch.)

For many big-time poker players, the key to success is staying focused - getting locked in on every hand, including your cards and your opponent's tendencies. An event nearby with people jumping up and down over winning "A new!!!! CAR!!!!!!" certainly doesn't help.

But if you think about it, our lives are full of distractions. Sometimes players even bring them to the tables, in the form of smartphones (even if they have their favorite music loaded for their earbuds). We need to follow some timeless advice along these lines....
Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. - Joshua 1:7

A new leader named Joshua was receiving guidance from the Lord (verse 1). While the focus of this "pep talk" was about having courage, Joshua was advised against going off-course in his life. The key to that was in obeying the "law of Moses" - a law really given by God years before.
Be very strong; be careful to obey all that is written in the Book of the Law of Moses, without turning aside to the right or to the left. - Joshua 23:6

 Joshua clearly remembered the lesson, because he repeated God's guidance in his farewell address. The world is filled with things that can take you off-course, away from a focus on God (I John 2:15-16). That's why, even today....
Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. - Hebrews 12:2

Jesus stayed focused as well - on His purpose for coming to Earth, and for eventually rejoining His Father in heaven.

We hope you focus well - on the cards and conditions as you play poker, and on God's ways as you walk throughout the week. But before you do that, please comment for us. What's the worst distraction you've ever faced at a poker tournament - and how did you deal with it?

Thursday, December 15, 2016

The Option Play

Is it something we've said? Maybe the wrong anti-perspirant?

Whatever the reason, 2016 is ending with yet another closure at a place where we've played poker. We mentioned last week that Osage Casino near Tulsa has "temporarily closed" its poker room - a place where we made a final table on our only visit during the summer.

This adds to a 2016 dropout list which included three independent poker rooms in Wichita, Prairie Band Casino north of Topeka and Boot Hill Casino in Dodge City (at least for tournament play).

It feels like we're not playing in person as much - but maybe that's misleading. As of this post, we've entered 31 live tournaments this year. That's better than one every couple of weeks. But work and other projects have cut into our poker time - not to mention a rather high buy-in at the main casino which has become our most convenient place to play.

What do you do when you run short of options.... not in terms of poker rooms, but big decisions in life? We can think of one man who faced that sort of challenge:
...A messenger came to Job and said, "The oxen were plowing and the donkeys were grazing nearby, and the Sabeans attacked and carried them off".... another messenger came and said, "The fire of God came from the sky and burned up the sheep and the servants".... another messenger came and said, "The Chaldeans formed three raiding parties and swept down on your camels and carried them off. They put the servants to the sword, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!" - Job 1:14-17

Talk about a bad day! And things got worse for Job from there. He lost all his children in the next two verses. Yet God allowed Satan the devil to do all these things to Job (verse 12). It was a test to see how a "blameless and upright... man who fears God" (verse 8) would respond to the loss of valuable things.
At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. then he fell to the ground in worship and said, "Naked I came from my mother's womb and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised." - Job  1:20-21

You may be in a place on this planet where you can't go out and play poker every week - or even every month. In the internet age, at least you have online options for having some fun and keeping your game sharp. But even if you didn't, could you still be thankful to God for not having anyplace to play poker?
When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider: God has made the one as well as the other.... - Ecclesiastes 7:14

God may have removed the poker options to get you focused on other things. Better things. More important things - like straightening out your life and repenting of your sins.

So give God praise for whatever he gives you, whether it's a little or a lot. Then ask Him prayerfully to show where you should go from here - and have faith that He will open the best options of all in your life.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Poker Day 491: Hard Rock and a Hard Place

Remember the cheaper choice we selected for Thursday night poker in Tulsa? Because we had an open Friday morning, we went to the more expensive place - where the poker costs less by day.

Hard Rock Hotel and Casino is located northeast of Tulsa. The casino security was almost nonexistent on a Friday morning; with no one at the doors, any toddler could walk in with Mom or Dad to play slots. But the poker room is nice and secluded - in fact, the first one we've visited with doors that automatically open.

It costs $35 plus a $5 dealer fee to play the 10:00 a.m. "no-juice" tournament. Sure enough, we didn't see any fruit juice - but with a cup of diet cola in our hand from outside, we joined in what started as a one-table game but turned into two:

BLINDS: 200/400

IN THE POCKET: 8-9 of spades

We won a modest pot early in the first hour. But then we lost a bunch with pocket Jacks, when we missed a straight draw. Now we've dropped from a starting 5,000 chips to a lowly 2,050.

"Looks like it's your time to win," an older man to our left says before we see our cards.

"I hope so," we told him. With suited connectors, we hope this is the moment. We call, and four players are in.

ON THE FLOP: 8h-7d-2d

Two of these cards are diamonds. So we have top pair, but a flush threat. We check to get a pulse of the table, and a man to our left bets 300. We call; the other players fold.


A third diamond - but a third 8. Given our small stack, we see little choice.

"All of it," we say - pushing out last 1,550. "Since he said it was my time," we add tongue-in-cheek. When in doubt, shift the blame.

We hope our opponent has no flush, and will fold. Instead, he calls - and shows 8-K. His kicker is far better than ours. We ask for an Ace - but really, that won't work. We need a 9 for a second pair.


The King tops our 9, and takes us out of the game. We split the Oklahoma weekend, finishing about 14th out of 17 players - but at least by registering for a Hard Rock player's card with "free slot play," we won back eight dollars playing video blackjack.

MINISTRY MOMENT: The man who gave us that fateful word of encouragement wanted a good look at our "Lord's Supper" card protector before play began. We explained it, then asked: "What do you think of Jesus?"

"Good guy."

"Is He your Savior?"

"I think so. I hope so."

Are any of those answers good enough? The Bible indicates they're not. Let's start from the top....

And, behold, one came and said to him, "Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?" And he said to him, "Why call you me good? There is none good but one, that is, God...." - Matthew 19:16-17 (KJV)

A young man came to Jesus Christ with what comes across as words of flattery. The Lord responded with a pre-flop rise of sorts in the conversation, since a writer long before declared in prayer:

You are good, and what you do is good; teach me your decrees. - Psalm 119:68

God is the original source of goodness. And Jesus was God, walking on Earth (John 1:1, 14). So was the young man ready to acknowledge Jesus as God? The section in Matthew doesn't indicate he did. But Jesus went farther:

"If you want to enter life, obey the commandments." - Matthew 19:17b

He clearly was talking about eternal life here. Jesus said that depends on several things....

"Which ones?" the man inquired. Jesus replied, "Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, honor your father and mother, and 'love your neighbor as yourself.'" - Matthew 19:18-19

We can sit all day, in a poker room or a church sanctuary, pondering about whether or not we have salvation. But Jesus indicated we should take definite actions to move toward eternal life. We answered the poker player's second statement with words along this line:

Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never fall... - II Peter 1:10

Is the list Jesus gave the way you live?

UPDATED POKER SCOREBOARD: 181 final tables in 491 games (36.9%) - 36 cashes.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Poker Night 490: Up the Creek

The church association we attend is having a big "regional family weekend" in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The events begin Friday evening - but we made the three-hour drive to Tulsa Thursday, to see if we could pay for the trip at the poker table.

To our surprise, Osage Casino where we played in the summer has closed its poker room. It's "temporary," one website says. (We'll get into that another time.) But that meant playing in a pricey Thursday night tournament. We chose the less expensive choice, "River Spirit Casino" operated by the Creek Nation - $75 buy-in plus $10 dealer appreciation.

The casino's poker room ranks among the nicest we've visited. Big-screen TV's abounded for watching Thursday night football, and a good variety of snacks and soda was available for free. But we didn't want that to distract us, because we came to play well....

BLINDS: 500/1,000

 IN THE POCKET: Q-J of diamonds

We started with 8,000 chips, plus a "bounty chip" worth $25 to whomever might eliminate us. We won some nice early pots to reach the one-hour break at 13,500. But now we have a challenge. A man at our table of six (or so) followed our early call with a raise to 3,500. That's a substantial investment, but after thinking it over we decide to call. No one else does.

ON THE FLOP: J-10-4 (third card may not be precise; it won't matter)

No diamonds came, but top pair did. We check to the raiser, and he goes all-in! He has 11,000. We have 10,500 left. What would you do at this moment?

We wonder if our opponent has pocket Aces or Kings. Something tells us he doesn't, and he's trying to steal the pot with a big scare. So we call - and he shows A-Q. Our hunch was right, but we have to dodge a lot of trouble.

"He needs a King," another player properly points out.


"There's the King," that man says. Uhhhh - not from what we see. We now lead the race, two pair to one. We'd prefer the next card be low.


Just low enough! We stay alive and double-up, leaving our opponent at the brink of elimination.

More nice pots came after that in Hour 2, and we eliminated one player to win a $25 bounty chip. Yet due to some losses, at the second break we still were stuck at 13,600. But then came Hour 3, and some huge pot wins. We hit a high chip count of 89,500, and were able to coast to the final table. Once there, we scored a huge win with A-J when two Jacks showed up and a man pushed with J-Q. We earned a second bounty

But our efforts to eliminate a short-stacked player with seven to go started draining our chips. We still had 54,000 at the third break, but more misses left us in limbo at 15,000 chips and rising blinds. But then an even shorter stack pushed with 9,000, and lost to an unfortunate river card which gave someone else a full house.

The top five in this 43-player tournament made the money - and that means we did! After that, we pushed for our life with 9-9. But a man to our left made a straight on the river, to knock us out. Final score: fifth place for $138, plus $50 in bounties - although by agreement, all the players at the final table donated $20 to the "bubble" man who came in sixth.

MINISTRY MOMENT: We took our "Lord's Supper" card protector on the trip, and the man who eventually knocked us out didn't grasp it at first.

"I don't think he looked like that," we said to him as he turned the protector over to see a depiction of Jesus Christ. "I don't think He had long hair."

The man agreed. "It says He had no special appearance," the man noted. The "it" in this case is the Bible....

My servant grew up in the Lord's presence like a tender green shoot, like a root in dry ground. There was nothing beautiful or majestic about his appearance, nothing to attract us to him. - Isaiah 53:2 (NLT)

This is an Old Testament prophecy about the coming of Jesus. Does it seem surprising? Ancient artistic depictions of Jesus constantly walking around with a halo or standout appearance really aren't accurate. Consider, for example....

Jumping up, they mobbed him and forced him to the edge of the hill on which the town was built. They intended to push him over the cliff, but he passed right through the crowd and went on his way. - Luke 4:29-30 (NLT)

A crowd wanted Jesus dead, but they apparently couldn't pick Him out of the crowd when the climactic moment came. He was that.... well, ordinary-looking. Not "ordinary" in any other way, but in appearance. Yet someday soon....

And standing in the middle of the lampstands was someone like the Son of Man.... His head and his hair were white like wool, as white as snow. And his eyes were like flames of fire.... And his face was like the sun in all its brilliance. - Revelation 1:13-16 (NLT)

This "man" calls himself "the  First and the Last" (verse 17; Revelation 22:13) - leaving little doubt it's Jesus Christ. The Bible says every eye will see Him when He returns (verse 7). Are you prepared to face Jesus at His judgment seat, no matter how He looks?

UPDATED POKER SCOREBOARD: 181 final tables in 490 games (36.9%) - 36 cashes. We've won money in five out of 30 tournaments we've entered this year!

Sunday, December 4, 2016

One False Step

The Thursday night National League of Poker online tournament was our best in months. We were hitting big cards, making big hands and winning large pots. At the one-hour break, we had 24,560 chips -  good for tenth place out of 1,170 total entries!

Then came the second hour, and this critical moment....

BLINDS: 400/800/100

IN THE POCKET: 2-6 of clubs

The NLOP format for this tournament has a maximum six players per table. Trouble is, we've been placed to the right of the chip leader. His stack is huge compared to ours - well above 40,000. But we start this hand with about 25,000 chips. With about 30 big blinds, we can be a bit "creative" with these cards. We call, and about three players are in with no one raising.

ON THE FLOP: 10-5-4 (order may not be precise)

An ordinary flop with a hopeful straight draw. We check. As best we recall, the table checks.


Our chances of hitting a straight now have doubled, but we sense a chance to win the pot right here. We bet 800. Mr. Big Stack calls, to our disappointment. The third player folds.


Yes! The straight comes through again! With no flush threat, we bid again for the pot. This time we bet 2,800. But our chip-leading opponent isn't scared. He goes all-in!

We have 22,800. Only a couple of combinations could beat ours - but this opponent has shown during the night he can bluff with very little. After several seconds of agonizing thought, we take the dare. We call. "If he has 9-6," we say to ourselves....

Then comes the computerized showdown.... and he has 9-6! He wasn't bluffing, and hit a higher straight on the river!

"Wow. Very good," is all we have time to write as he takes our big stack away. He writes "LOL" and some kind of scoffing insult in response. After a big 90-minute run, we finish in a lowly 165th place.

We offer this as proof that few hands in a poker tournament are "safe" hands. Other players can put you at risk at any moment, so you have to be careful at all times. Out lives work the same way....

They moved the ark of God from Abinadab's house on a new cart, with Uzzah and Ahio guiding it. - I Chronicles 13:7

What does "a la cart" transport in the Bible have to do with this? Keep reading....

When they came to the threshing floor of Kidon, Uzzah reached out his hand to steady the ark, because the oxen stumbled. The Lord's anger burned against Uzzah, and he struck him down because he had put his hand on the ark. So he died there before God. - I Chronicles 13:9-10

At first reading, this may seem awfully unfair. Touch an ark, and God strikes you dead on the spot?! Well, yes - because there were rules for such things:

After Aaron and his son have finished covering the holy furnishings and all the holy articles, and when the camp is ready to move, the Kohathites are to come to do the carrying. But they must not touch the holy things or they will die.... - Numbers 4:15

The ark was considered holy to God. Uzzah touched it. He died. Right then and there.

"But I thought God was love," you might say. "What about grace and mercy?" God indeed has those traits - but he's also a God with rules. In the same way, we made a bad decision Thursday night on the river - and under the rules, our tournament dream died. (The re-buy deadline had passed.)

Be very careful, then, how you live - not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. - Ephesians  5:15-16

One wrong action can be costly in a poker room. And in driving to and from it. Ask God for wisdom to help you make the right moves at all times.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Slots of Luck?

One of our recent posts mentioned a surprising development in the city where our poker-playing (and this "poker blog") began. The City Council in Columbus, Georgia is now on record supporting a public vote on legalizing casino gambling.

It's far too early to say if Georgia voters will approve a casino, or whether that casino will have any kind of poker room. But supporters say it will create hundreds of jobs. To which we would respond: what else will it create?

It's a rare state that has poker rooms with nothing else supporting them. Most of the rooms we've visited in Florida also have greyhound racing. In Kansas, the rooms are part of casinos - with lots and lots of slots. We tend to walk past those machines. But we realize many people don't - and the odds are that those people will lose money.

Casinos make money to some extent from restaurants, bars and an occasional concert. But most of the time, they "win" from gamblers losing - primarily from slot machines. It's enough for us to raise a question found in the Bible:
Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy?.... - Isaiah 55:2

We brought this verse up a few weeks ago, in the wake of the WSOP Main Event. But if you have money to burn, we think there are better "investments" than throwing quarters into a slot machine. For instance....
Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. - II Corinthians 9:7

We're posting this a bit late for "Giving Tuesday." But money you might toss down a slot could be used for good causes by non-profit groups and charities. Faith-based groups can use the money to help needy people, whether they're down the street or halfway around the world. Those people might even hear life-changing news about salvation through Jesus Christ.

But, you might say, you have no chance of getting back any money at all? Keep reading....
Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God. - II Corinthians 9:10-11

No, we are not asking for your donations to keep this blog going. But we're suggesting you consider giving some of your "gambling money" to faith-based groups - since the Bible promises you'll "be made rich" in return. It's worked for us, despite some hard times. Yes, a church or fellowship can be a better long-term investment than any casino..