Sunday, April 16, 2017

Poker Day 499: Good or Bad?

"As far as I'm concerned, they're all good." We borrowed a "Good Friday" line we heard years ago on an Atlanta radio station as we sat down to play poker at Kansas Star Casino. It was our first live poker tournament in about two months, due to a busy schedule. But three recent top-100 finishes in online events with more than 1,000 players gave us some hope....

BLINDS: 100/200


The game got off to a good start for us, as A-K allowed us to win a big pot with a pair of Kings over a couple of chasers. We were above 5,300 at that point. But then the cards went dry, and hopeful pairs hit bad flops.

We now come back from the first break with 3,400 chips. Sitting two seats from the button at a table of nine, we see these cards and raise to 600. The man in the dealer's seat calls. So does one of the blinds. Everyone else says no.


The man in the blind checks, so we can have a bit of fun. "I'm making a classic continuation bet," we say. It's 700.

"I'm all-in," the button man says in response.

The blind folds. Yet we don't feel very worried. We bluff-bet this opponent out of a hand to win a modest pot when we had the button two hands earlier. And this is a table where some people have been betting big with relatively little all day. So we quickly conclude this man hit Jack-something - maybe Jack-Ace. And we have him topped.

"I have to call," we say. After all, 1,300 of our 3,400 already is committed.

Then it happens. Our "dealer" turns over J-J! He hit the Jack-pot on the flop. "I need some help," we admit.


"A 10 would be good," we say hopefully. A straight would be quite an escape.


No escape. Only a trip to the rail, finishing 54th out of 89 players. Perhaps we were overconfident?!

MINISTRY MOMENT: Noting what day it was, we took our "Lord's Supper" card protector and showed it to a man who called himself a poker rookie. (He lasted longer than we did.)

"What do you think of Jesus?" we asked him. He clearly did not expect that sort of question in a poker room.

"You mean Chris Ferguson?!" he answered, straining for some humor.

No.... not the poker champ who's been given the nickname "Jesus" because some people think he looks like the Savior (at least the way He's been depicted since the Renaissance). The real Jesus.

"I grew up in a town full of Catholics," the man admitted. In fact, we checked and found that small town of around 600 people was founded by a Catholic priest. But the man at the table said little more than that about our question.

Here's the good news for him, and even for you. You don't have to be Roman Catholic to be a Christian. In fact, the word "Catholic" isn't in the Bible at all. Here's a bit of how it really works....

Peter and the other apostles replied, "We must obey God rather than men!.... We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him." - Acts 5:29, 32

There's obedience involved in being a Christian - and some simply some nebulous "god."

If you love me, you will obey what I command. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever - the Spirit of truth.... - John 14:15-17

These are words of Jesus Christ. While countless churches might give you differing set of rules about how to serve God, the real Jesus said you should obey what He commands. That means reading the Bible carefully, beginning with the four "gospels" which begin the New Testament. Among them....

He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation." - Mark 16:15

That's what we try to do in poker rooms. We start small, simply by bringing up Jesus and God the Father. Where it goes from there is up to God. Just as big things can happen in a poker tournament, we believe God can make big things happen in your life. Will you obey the real Jesus, to open the door for it?

UPDATED POKER SCOREBOARD: 182 final tables in 499 games (36.5%) - 36 cashes. We're not sure yet when tournament #500 will happen.

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