When I had just started playing competitive poker after a thirty-year time out, I was playing in a cash game and hitting it off with a guy. We were talking about family, God, and business. After ten hours of play, we ended up in a big hand together. I placed a bet and he came over the top. He looked at me and said, “We’ve gotten to know each other and become friends, and I like you, so I’m going to tell you. I’ve got you beat. Fold your hand and I’ll show.” I folded my hand and he mucked.
I was fuming. That wasn’t playing poker. That was betrayal. He used my friendship to bluff me out of a pot.
I considered his actions unethical, but I knew that most players would probably disagree with me. And that made me ask the question, “What can you do at the poker table that manipulates other players without violating God’s laws?” How many times have people told you that you did a great job misleading them or baiting someone into a hand? I hear it all the time. I’m proud when I outplay and manipulate a player into bad play. Is that wrong?
Check out these articles about God's lesson plan for Poker.
NO. ABSOLUTELY NOT. Poker is a game of chance and skill. The skill of deceit is part of the game. If it wasn’t, you could never bluff with a clear conscious. Almost anything goes because deception is part of the game.
• I always lie about my hands, both during and after the hand. I don’t ever want to give someone a read on play.
• I usually try to mislead other players to think that I’m weak when my hand is strong.
• I usually act strong when my hand is weak.
• I change my voice to make my hand sound weak.
• I agitate other players if I think I can get them to tilt or become over-competitive.
• I have no mercy on bad players or donkeys. I do have mercy on people I like.
• I hesitate and act weak when I have a monster.
• I tell them to get out, when I have a winner. I bait them.
The fact of the matter is that all of these behaviors, and many more, are part of poker. It’s a game. It is not a lifestyle. These would all be horrible traits to have as a person, but poker allows you to do all of these things and do them proudly. Poker is one of the only games where you can lie, manipulate, and act badly, and have others pat you on the back and tell you “Great job.”