Playing poker from a Christian perspective

Playing cards can be a fun way to pass the time.

I’ve played spirited games of “War” and “Go Fish” with my kids like many parents. My ability to play euchre – although not necessarily well – has helped at family gatherings and was a good icebreaker with in-laws when my wife and I were first dating.

Poker, on the other hand, is not my game. I’ve played occasionally with friends over the years, and to put it nicely, I stink. I’m probably not the guy you want to take along on your next trip to Vegas, if such excursions are your thing.

This profile, though, in no way fits Nick Maimone.

At only 22, Maimone is one of the rising stars of professional poker. A piece in the Charlotte Observer talks about how in a matter of days the young North Carolinian walked away with $200,000 from advancing deep into the World Series of Poker. Offers to play internationally for big bucks are rolling in.

I don’t know about you, but at 22 I would have fainted if someone handed me a check for that amount.

The difference, other than age and the fact he gained his skills largely from online gaming, between Maimone and many of his competitors is that he is a devout believer. He is planning on spending time this year away from the card-playing circuit to work at an African orphanage and to give substantial portions of his winnings to charity.

Maimone also discusses how he hopes there won’t come a day when he abandons his faith to simply get lost in the excess of success. It wouldn’t be uncommon, but the fact he’s worried about it is a hopeful sign.

Gambling is everywhere. The days of having to hop a flight to Vegas or Atlantic City to find a casino are long gone. I could drive less than an hour from where I live to get to two horse racing tracks and gamble. This is hardly a unique situation.

My hope is that Maimone, or for that matter any number of Christians who toss a few bucks in the kitty playing poker with their buddies on Friday night, keep grounded in their faith and realize that their game is secondary to deeper priorities.


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