Jesus and the WSOP

Most of us–unless we’re Phillip Pullman–would like to think that God, or Divine Providence, is on our side. It’s comforting to think that, in the words of Pharaoh Sanders, “The Creator Has a Master Plan,” and that you are part of it.

But we usually keep our mouths shut about it. Apparently, this year’s WSOP winner was pretty insistent about asking for God’s help during the final table, and that’s got Jeff Simpson irked. From the LV Sun:

This year’s winner, Jerry Yang, a Laotian-American from California, was way more likable than the obnoxious Gold, but the unassuming therapist found a way to annoy me during his final table triumph.

Yang, it seems, is a devout Christian. Good for him.

But there’s something unseemly about a gambler, in the middle of a gambling event, beseeching God for help.

Among Yang’s televised remarks at the final table were: “Let people see a miracle “; “Thank you Lord, Thank you God “; “Lord, you know you have a purpose for me “; and “I will glorify your name.”

During one particularly tense hand, after all the chips had been pushed into the middle but a couple of cards had yet to be dealt, Yang asked for help.

“Father, in the name of Jesus Christ, let me win this one,” he murmured.

Maybe it’s me, but it just seems wrong to be asking God to deliver a card.

Las Vegas SUN: Jeff Simpson notes that the past two winners of the World Series of Poker’s main event haven’t been great for the game

Actually, in my research for Roll the Bones, I happened across a description of a Roman dicing board dating from the early Christian period that said pretty much the same thing as Yang. Here’s the relevant text:

If after this manner one should play at the throws of the alveus, Jesus Christ gives victory, and assistance to those who wrote his name, even in such trifling matters as playing this game.

That’s from James Christie. An Inquiry into the Ancient Greek Game Supposed to Have Been Invented by Palamedes, Antecedent to the Siege of Troy. London: W. Bulmer and Co., 1801.

My point is that this has been going on a long time. Even back then, they thought it was inappropriate to ask for divine intervention into gambling, but they kept on doing it. It’s easy for us to say that it’s just a game, but I’m guessing that when you’re a the final table of the WSOP, it seems like anything but a trifle. Still, this might be a prayer better offered without words–at least ones that everyone else can hear.

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