Thursday, April 20, 2017

The Biggest Loser

When you hear about big-name poker players, the news is usually impressive and positive. Player A made a final table. Player B walked away with hundreds of thousands of dollars.

But then there's Player C - and we offer Dan Cates as an example of that. He calls himself on Twitter "one of the most successful online poker players of all time." Yet he made a poker news website this week because of how much money he's lost - nearly $500,000 since the start of the year on PokerStars. (He clearly plays for money on that site; we only use play money, and don't even buy extra chips.)

Perhaps more surprisingly, Cates seemed to call attention to his own losing streak by writing on Twitter:

for someone who has played games all over the world and on many stakes, I have to say has the WORST games by FAR (toughest)

The fate of Cates is a reminder of why some people warn against playing poker. in the first place. When someone when money, especially in a cash game, someone has to lose money. But believe it or not, sometimes losing a lot can be a good thing:

But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. - Philippians 3:7

The Biblical apostle Paul's resume didn't have poker tournaments on it. But for his day and his religious circle, it was impressive....

If anyone else thinks he has reason to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee.... as for legalistic righteousness, faultless.... - Philippians 3:4-6

In other words, he was a Jew's Jew. But there's one item on the resume we left out: for zeal, persecuting the church... - Philippians 3:6

And that was the problem. Paul (originally called Saul) thought he knew what God was doing, and thought the new "church" movement after the resurrection of Jesus Christ couldn't possibly be it. But God proved him wrong by striking him down.

"Who are you, Lord?" Saul asked. "I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting," he replied. "Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do." - Acts 9:5-6

Saul left that moment temporarily blind, and had to be led to Damascus. But once there, he was healed and began preaching Jesus "is the son of God" (Acts 9:18, 20). The success he had doing that led him to write later:

What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I might gain Christ.... - Philippians 3:8

Maybe you're like Paul, or like poker's "Jungleman Dan.". You've lost a lot, at the table or in life. Maybe God is trying to tell you something. Ask Him in prayer to show you what that message is. Ask for His wisdom, which - pardon any offense - is far better than yours (I Corinthians 1:25). Serving God is the real path to victory, in this life and beyond.

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