Tuesday, August 14, 2007

You’ve got to know when to fold ‘em

Man, I'm good lucky!

Now, theologically speaking, I'm of the mind that what is not explicitly prohibited is permissible with all the attendant caveats about idols, covetousness, making your brother stumble, and especially the lesson that all things should be done in moderation. So I am not opposed to gambling when it is a form of fellowship.

For example: if I am at an event that has a 50-50 raffle, I would not, as a matter of principle, take the position "I'm a Christian and I don't gamble." The bigger lesson I would see here, absent an explicit prohibition, is to be all things to all people.

So with that introduction, I'll describe the results of the last three times I gambled.

I entered a "survivor" football poll. This is where, to advance to the next week, you can pick any team to win—but the catch is you can only pick any given team once during the contest. On the last regular season weekend there were three of us left. Alas, being somewhat foolish, I had no teams left to pick from the set of teams that were headed to the playoffs, so even if I advanced I would be out the following week by forfeiture. But wait! On that last regular season Sunday my pick won while the other two players picked losers! Game over man! I won $400.

A couple months ago I was on a business trip to Palm Springs California. I had never been in a casino—but after dinner that is what my colleagues wanted to do so I went along. I decided I would play the slots one time only, for $5, and bada-bing, I won $40.

A couple weeks ago I was in San Diego on business. This time my colleagues invited me to play Texas Hold 'em, which I roughly understood from ESPN—although I hadn't watched enough to appreciate the finer points of small and big "blinds" and the like.

Well—I wiped 'em out! I won everything! ($120).

Any risk here? Well the football polls, to me, are just to join in the fun. And to show that Christians aren't all dour legalists. And the Casino—well I can now say: been there done that—it was something of a curiosity thing. I would go back if I was with a group of friends, but any desire to try a slot machine has been quenched.

But the Texas Hold 'em—man that is some game. It involves an intoxicating combination of luck, memory, mathematics, and psychology. That game is dangerous—that game is one that could suck me in. That is "capital T" Temptation.


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