The Hand Less Played

“Aren’t you worried you’re under Satan’s influence? The Bible is very clear about the occult…” my dad said. I had been expecting one of my parents to ask this for quite some time, yet I still wasn’t ready to answer when he did. I was a devout Christian once, just like my parents. I stopped going to church around the time I got divorced but don’t feel I’ve strayed from God even though I no longer live by everything the Bible says. I wanted to give them an adequate explanation for how and why I’ve begun studying No Limit Hold’em poker using fortune telling with playing cards (and selling tarot transformation tools and decks). I wanted to explain why the Bible was wrong on this point but I couldn’t because it boils down to this: I am uncertain. I don’t think anyone really knows. Like Pascal’s wager says, we must choose to believe or not to believe. Faith is a gamble. 

I was skeptical and afraid I might be fed a pack of well packaged lies the day I got my first tarot card reading but her presence was anything but evil. The woman’s words were the most comforting things I’d heard in years. I left feeling God had spoken through her, though I wasn’t sure if it was because I wanted that to be true or because she really seemed to understand me better than I understood myself and knew things that I had not stated. One of the things she told me is that I was due for a creative explosion and would be a pathfinder of sorts. I never forgot the statement because “pathfinder” is a term my dad would use. 

About a week after I failed to calm my parents’ fears that I’m on the wrong path, I had a dream that a small spot of my roof was on fire. It was raging hot but not spreading. I stood directly beneath it holding my cat and staring in awe. The next night I dreamt we moved to a larger apartment where we were much happier. Two days later, I learned that I actually do need to find a new place to live by June 30th because my landlord has her own problems and is moving in to my studio.

There have been few dreams I have seen and remembered as vividly as the two I had right before receiving my eviction notice. The first time I had such a dream was the night I saw myself at the final table of the WSOP Main Event. The dream felt more like a vision from God, but I didn’t believe it could or would happen. I loved poker as much then as I do now, but I’m not the type to risk $10k. I couldn’t afford to then and I definitely can’t afford to now. Furthermore, I was just beginning to learn Texas Hold’em. In time, with practice, I came to believe that maybe someday I would possess the right combination of skill and luck needed to play in the WSOP and that perhaps the courage it took for me to embrace the dream could inspire others. 

I was a full time office manager and extremely part time candle maker and writer at the time. I wouldn’t have predicted that I would start making playing card collage paintings or resin jewelry… nor that I would start designing hats and shirts… and never would I ever ever ever have predicted I would try to read playing cards… especially to try to improve my poker game… because I do very much believe in the math of it all… but I had always felt there was something extra tricky about A♤9♤ when I played at the casino… and I stumbled upon a fortune telling with playing cards book at a thrift store one day, let my curiosity flip to the appropriate pages, and learned that A♤9♤ was likely the worst hole cards in the deck according to that system… and the fact I had felt strangely about those cards before learning that information felt significant. 

I bought the book but didn’t spend much time reading it over the years. I felt able to dream bigger after receiving my first Tarot card reading but still didn’t think I had any similar gifts. One random dark and lonely day during COVID times I got to wondering if poker could be used to prove whether or not fortune telling is possible. I pulled up some videos of memorable pro poker hands, wrote down the details, looked up the card meanings in my book… and had my mind blown. Hand after hand, the cards were speaking – predicting player behavior and giving hints about who would win. I was shocked and excited. On the one hand I felt conflicted about learning how to read the cards, especially because the book says fortune telling decks should never be used for games, but on the other hand everything I have been working towards suddenly made more sense. I have long felt my spiritual journey, love of poker, and desire to be a writer and artist were intertwined, but couldn’t really explain why. 

Even now, I don’t truly know that what I’m doing is right. I believe it is what God wants for me. I believe God sent that random stranger who convinced me that there are plenty of rich people with money who would love to invest in a long shot like myself so they could say they helped a nobody take down the Main Event. I believe God sent the friends and strangers who popped up at various times since then, giving me money to gamble when I couldn’t afford to play. I believe God created the opportunity for me to meet Jennifer Harman, James McManus, and Johnny Chan (and many other non-poker celebrities) – interactions which made me feel like the unknown member of the 1% and helped me have faith in myself. I believe God made silly stories about my four-legged children flow out of me now because I really needed some laughs to maintain hope… because I have never felt so down to “a chip and a chair” in my life. Most importantly, I believe with every fiber of my being that none of this would have ever happened if I had not believed.

I have absolutely no idea what to do about my current problems because I think I’m exactly where God wants me. I have found only one full-time job to apply for so far that truly excites me, but it doesn’t start soon and I haven’t heard back. I might like to move out of the area to somewhere less expensive, but I don’t know how to get an apartment there without a new job… and I don’t think I could find employment there first unless I’m capable of locating a place to rent, packing, and moving there within a week to start working whatever job I get. Of course the harder part for me is that either scenario likely involves a vast reduction of time and energy available for all the endeavors I’m convinced are my intended life path… just as I was beginning to feel I had unlocked my full creative potential. 

I have been completely honest with EDD about my self-employment and had hoped to eventually inform them of a big jump in income – enough to replace one or both of the jobs I lost – because I don’t really know how to take a new full-time job without feeling like I’m giving up on my dream. I am looking for one. I know I must pay my bills. I want to feel like a successful adult who contributes to society. I don’t want anyone to ever have to help me out. I hate asking for help more than I can explain. In general, I only care what God thinks of me… which is probably why my heart feels shattered right now. I don’t want to give up on the things I believe God wants me to do, but the odds currently indicate that is exactly what comes next. So, with only a hope and a prayer left, I’m explaining every bit I can behind my madness. I’m turning over my cards because I’m already all-in. I have nothing left to lose. 

Though it feels like I need a miracle to stay in the game, I believe I must do all I can to have faith that everything will work out as it should. I must scour the job boards far and wide for gainful employment and affordable housing, work hard to sell the products I have created, remember that God’s ways are not our ways, and hope that putting this information about my dreams out in the universe will help me accept whatever comes next. Failure is hard to accept but uncertainty is infinitely more difficult. The poker table is where I began to see that we have no choice but to accept it. No matter how much you know about any poker hand or moment in life, there are always unseen forces in play, whether or not you use God and Satan to explain the good or bad “luck” they bring. The only thing I really know is that I want to be an example of good and am playing my cards the best I can.

If you wish to be my Patron Saint of Long Shots but can barely afford a shirt… why not buy this design or something else from my shop to show your support?


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