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Know When to Chop

I just won 80K in the 5K Winstar River Event. God has really shown me his favor, both in cards and in life. I was trying to view the game from a spiritual perspective rather than a circumstantial one. That sounds weird. What I mean is that I wasn't there just to win; I was there to do whatever God wanted me to do.

5k Event at the Winstar

Jim Carroll Winstar Poker

This is how it all came together for me:

On Day 1, the guy sitting behind me was someone that I knew and liked. We had always harassed each other about everything, particularly spiritual beliefs. Today was no different. Halfway through the game he said, "I want to ask you a serious question." At which I replied that I would give him a serious answer. Then we had this great discussion about God, Christ, free will, hell, and last-second salvations. All of this at the poker table. He even thanked me for taking the time to give him the answers. Unfortunately, I busted him up when he went "All In" into my pocket aces.

Jim's Poker Articles

Check out these articles about God's lesson plan for Poker.

Lessons From the Past

At the end of Day 1, I was the chip leader. That scared me, because it had happened to me twice before and the next day I lost all my chips. I decided it would be a good idea to go back over the previous lessons that God had taught me.

Lesson 1: Leave the donkeys alone. Don't try to knock them out just because I think I'm a superior player. Jesus loves donkeys, and God can favor anyone he wants. If they’re running hot, stay away. Leave them alone and treat them like anyone else.

Lesson 2: Don't isolate myself. It's sometimes tough being a part-time player and feeling like I'm not part of the group, but rather than withdraw because I feel intimidated or unwanted, I've learned to just join in. At dinner I invited four younger guys to eat with me, and I paid. My testimony isn't any good if I don’t share it.

Lesson 3: No collusion. There were three of us left, and one was a player I considered to be weaker than me. He was no donkey, but he was easy to read. He always over-bet when he had a good hand and just smooth called when he was weak or on a draw. The temptation was to go to the other large stack and make an agreement to knock out the short stack so we could chop 1st and 2nd. Thankfully, I had learned from the past that this is cheating in God's eyes.

Lesson 4: Don't go crazy. At one point there were six players remaining at the final table. Only 1,675,000 chips were in play. I had 930,000 of them. Everyone was less than average. I could have gone crazy and run over the table, but I chose to tighten up and watch episodes of "Two and a Half Men" instead. I got a lot of business emails returned and didn't feel any pressure. Darn TJ Cloutier made sure everyone knew I switched to playing tight. I'm going to have to talk to him about that.

Lesson 5: When God's favor changes, go with it. When we were down to four players, things changed quickly. Three times I flopped the top pair only to get burnt by three straights. The tide was turning and I needed to adjust. In the past, I would have tried to force things back to my favor by sheer skill or concentration. But I've learned that God makes it obvious when he wants someone else to be blessed. Heck, I'm not the only one? Anyway, I think that God wanted the two others players to have a bigger share. I wasn't going to get in the way. So heck, chop time.