I’m a fun guy at the poker table, most of you that know that. I don’t take the game too seriously and I try to make it fun. Poker is a game and an outlet for my natural competitive energy.
But then…2016 World Series of Poker. I decided to try something different. I’m going to play my best game, grind more, no stupid risks and no blind donkey play. I’m going to WIN with my skills. Seriously, I’m going to get Serious!
Well, God had different plans. And as always, poker is a LIFE LESSON experience.
The signs were all around me, but I just couldn’t figure them out until I got home and talked with my wife.
Poker is not your friend. Poker is the Death of many serious players. Poker is not fair. Poker is cruel.
While playing in the 2016 Series, I had lots of pros come to me and asked me to stake them (stake means to pay the entry fee and receive a portion of the winnings). These guys are legends; you would know their names. Each has the same story. They fell on bad luck and are totally broke. They will play for 30% or even less of the winnings. These guys are better players than me. I have a hard time saying that because the way they play often makes me scratch my head. Regardless, these are good players. And they are all broke. You see it every year - big name poker players begging people to stake them. There is even a website called, “YouStake.” Now why would a successful poker player want to give away 50% of their winnings? I entered a single table satellite and staked one of these legends. I watched him play. He was poker dead. Fear controlled his game. He didn’t bluff, play position or anything else; he just waited for the premium hands. Poker Death was controlling his game. He didn’t last very long.
Check out these articles about God's lesson plan for Poker.
To illustrate POKER DEATH, I’ll share this story. In 2015 I staked a guy (that I thought was a good friend) who placed first in a tourney. This year he was dead broke. I staked him in another event after giving him 6k to get out of debt. He entered the tournament, sent me a copy of the receipt and supposedly went to play. However, I had a funny feeling about it. So I asked a friend to see if he was really at the table. Well, he wasn’t, but he was sending me updates on his “bad beats”. Eventually he said he got knocked out. But guess what, he never even played! He got a refund on the fee and pocketed the cash. He had experienced Poker Death - when poker is no longer a game but a death trap, where morality, friendship, integrity becomes irrelevant. It brings everyone to his or her knees.
Let’s bring this back to the LIFE LESSON. “Serious Jim” was ready to prove just how good he was in 2016 WSOP.
Well, I played in 5 tournaments and several single table satellites and I had more bad beats in one week than several years of play. I had more suck outs than I can even count. It’s all a blur and I don’t want to bore you with the bad beat stories. Well, OK, I have to share this. Two hands in a row in the main event I get KK. Re-raised both times. Both times I hit a set of kings and both times, I lose to A2345 as the other players held A4 and A5. Serious Jim was getting his ass kicked. And why is it that the very hand I can’t win with (KK) is the one that knocks me out when I have (QQ) and the guy slow plays them? Coincidence? I think not.
I was on the road to an ugly Poker Death.
I don’t think that God ever wants me (as a Christian) to get serious about poker or gambling. I don’t think God wants me to care about my poker reputation. I believe God wants me to have fun, enjoy the game and nothing more.
“Fun Jim” has final tabled many events and made a lot of money. “Serious Jim” was on the road to Poker Death and gotten his ass kicked. Thank God. I hope this helps those that struggle with getting too serious about poker. I hope this helps players that sometimes feel like God is playing against them. We are not victims. We know the stakes every time we play the game and we know that gambling will bite you the majority of the time.
Remember: Poker is game. Poker is entertainment. Poker is for fun.
If it’s just a game, we can walk away and share our bad beat stories, feel no shame and enjoy the story. But, if poker becomes more than a game, expect the game to end with your Poker Death.