Poker & The Game of Life
Poker is a game of chance, skill and math however there are some players who have exceptional “luck” when they play. Why?
When you play poker you get the cards dealt to you, that is where the chance comes in, you get what is dealt and you must play with those cards. You can ask for more cards and trade a card or two, but you do not get to choose what hand you get. You play the cards you are dealt, the trick is to know which cards to throw and which ones to keep and bet accordingly.
People who excel at poker are what I call “watchers”. They sit back and watch the other players around them for their “tells”. Tells are those things that give you away. It could be the way you hold your eyes, it could be the way your mouth swings up at the corner on a good hand, it could be a something your are not aware of, but someone watching you will find it out. A tell can let another person know if you are being truthful or bluffing; just ask a mother if she knows if her children are lying, she knows by their body language, their "tells". A tell can let another person know if you have a good hand or a bad hand, if you are bluffing or telling the truth.
Exceptional players work hard to keep all their “tells” silent because you never want to let the other players how your hand is. Players have to study themselves to see if they can spot their own tells, as well as the other opponents.
Poker is a game of psychological messing with other people in their heads, you need to outmaneuver the other players. The art of placing your bets on the table as each round comes so that in the end you walk away with all your opponent’s money and power. A good game of poker will go on for hours, long into the night because you do not want just one or two hands, all the money is not on the table at that point. You must wait if you want it all.
Kenny Rogers said it best in his song, The Gambler: “you gotta know when to hold them, know when to fold them, know when to walk away, know when to run, you never count your money when you are sitting at the table, there will be time enough for counting when the dealing is done.”
In life there are huge parallels – you do have to know how to play the game. What are the rules? When do you play? How do you play? Good thing there is a play book for life, it is called The Bible.
In life we each get dealt different cards and it is our job to learn how to play those particular cards: our family or origin – you did not get to “pick” it, it is where you were placed. Your children, you did not get to “pick” them, you received them as gifts that God gave you. Even if you adopted a child, where you got to “pick” them, you had no idea on personality, talents, or much of anything to choose by. Our schools – most of us had to go to the school that the government said, rarely did you get to choose unless you opted for private school. But even in that, the teachers you got were not chosen by you. I hope you get where I am going with this, in a lot of situations in life, you have to “play the cards given to you”. It is up to you to make it work or not.
Our terms of “playing the game” were learned in our childhood. Children are watchers – they absolutely know if you are bluffing or telling the truth. When you lie to your children and think it means nothing – think again, they caught you bluffing. It is huge to these little brains they have spent years watching your walk to see if it matches your talk. It sets the course of what their adulthood will be like.
Now let us throw in the Bible. Father, Son and Holy Spirit are “watchers”, they know if you have surrendered your life over to them or if superficially, we have only given lip service. Does our walk match our talk? Not only God but others around you will catch on really quickly if your walk matches your talk. It’s a “tell”. This goes for us individually, corporately, us as a church and certainly as a nation.
God has instructed us to put Him first in every situation we face. Have we done that?
Does our day begin with God?
Does our morning continue with God? Or by coffee time, we forgot He exists, but we are okay because we gave Him our 15 minutes this morning.
Do we continue with God into our lunch and afternoon? Or we have a list a mile long to accomplish and we leave Him behind while we set out to accomplish it.
Supper and evening, where is He? We are tired by this time, busy with children, spouses, homework, job stuff, house stuff… it never ends.
God wants to be so woven into the fabric of your life that there is no separation. It is you and He together 24/7.
I was in Edmonton yesterday and stepped into a chapel at the hospital, 2 Muslim ladies were in there praying, I admired their dedication and stepped back out to allow them the privacy, when they were done I went back in to do some talking myself.
In the North American church today there seems to be a separating from life and God. Oh, we did not do it intentionally, it was like a frog placed in boiling water. It sits there until it boils to death because the water heats up slowly and it never noticed so it had no need to jump out. If you had placed the frog directly into boiling water, it would fight and panic and trying to get out.
If you live your life with God on Sundays, God in the 15-20 minutes a day we give Him – we will not be able to stand when disaster, crisis or the unexpected comes. We will panic and fight, trying to get out. It is human nature to do so.
But Holy Spirit filled Christians forget, we cannot get “rid” of the Holy Spirit by ignoring Him. We also cannot access the power He wants to give us by ignoring Him.
When we surrendered our lives to God, and hopefully we have, Jesus said the Holy Spirit would come to live inside of us. This is the power of God Almighty Himself that has meshed together with your spirit and soul, caught up in the fabric of your being.
What does any of this have to do with poker?
Everything. When you live with the Holy Spirit, the power of the Living Almighty God inside of you, you are holding a Royal Flush in your hand! This unbeatable hand is yours, you cannot loose, but do we live like this? Or do we walk, and talk defeated, living in fear?
If we hold the unbeatable hand, that means when we walk into any situation, we hold the power of the room because we hold the power of the Almighty God at our disposal, He is our Royal Flush, our Ace in the hole. We contain His discernment, His knowledge, His care. When you walk into the room with the Almighty God, you are an atmosphere changer. The atmosphere in that room will change just because you are there bringing the power of God with you.
This goes for friendly rooms and unfriendly rooms, even hostile rooms – you still hold the Royal Flush, you are unbeatable. In terms of persecution what is the worst that could happen? You could die, Hallelujah! Stepping from this world to the next is not punishment for those who know Jesus.
I was thinking of the book of Daniel and the 3 men who were thrown into the firey furnace. You know what they said to King Nebuchadnezzar and the rulers who “were going to make them bow down to their royal statue?”
“King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and He will deliver us from your Majesty’s hand. But even if He does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” Daniel 3:16-18
What is your fire today? Money, job, persecution, family, sickness, pain, fear.
The Bible states that when we walk through the fire we will not get burnt. Isaiah 43:2
You hold in your hand a Royal Flush because you belong to the family of God and a Royal Flush wins any hand, every time.
Your opponent or enemy can be standing there threatening to beat you, and you may have lost a couple rounds, perhaps a lot of rounds, but the game is not over, sit back and take stock, look for the tells, know whose you are and steady yourself knowing your God is capable, and you can be assured that in the end, at the end of the game, you will walk away the absolute winner. You hold all the right cards.