When Las Vegas casinos are shutting down their poker rooms, you know the game is in a decline. The number of tables across Nevada has dropped by more than 25 percent in the last ten years, and the casino income from poker has dropped 30 percent - even years after the "Black Friday" crackdown on online games.
Translation: the game is in a slump. It's very unlikely to drop to "push or die" status, but the adrenaline rush of new players isn't what it used to be. So what can be done to turn things around?
As strange as it sounds, maybe poker players and casinos should learn a lesson in promotion from the Bible - even from Jesus Christ:
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. - Matthew 28:19
Jesus said this to His disciples (verse 16). But like a crafty poker player waiting to make a move with big cards, they waited to act until the right moment. That's because Jesus also said...
On one occasion, as he was eating with them, he gave them this command: "Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about." - Acts 1:4
Jesus promised "power from on high" was coming (Luke 24:49) - and days after He returned to heaven, it came in the form of the Holy Spirit which inspired dynamic messages.
Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day. - Acts 2:41
With that sort of a jumpstart....
Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed the word by the signs that accompanied it. - Mark 16:20
In the church world, this movement is called evangelism. As a radio series we've been hearing puts it, you "tell someone" about the gospel and Jesus. People have been following Jesus's command and doing that for nearly 2,000 years.
But to be honest, even that effort has had peaks and valleys. Some say the Christian church is in its own slump right now, in terms of dedicated members. We think interest can come back, if believers are willing to spread their message - perhaps even in new and creative ways.
If that can happen in a church, why not in the poker world? When was the last time you told someone new that you play poker - and even told them where and how they can take part in a tournament? (We're talking legal games here, not the other kind.)
"Word of mouth" worked with the gospel message long before Texas Hold 'em became popular. It can still work, if you wait for the right moment and make a powerful action when it comes.