Jewish Journal

Praying for poker

by Brad A. Greenberg

October 10, 2007 | 2:26 am

The World Series of Poker, which I’ve written about before—both homeless hero and Hollywood champ—is such a long event that nerves are understandably frayed by the time players reach the final table. But what I saw last night on ESPN was just plain odd.

Jerry Yang, who went on to win the event and receive the world champion bracelet, was all-in against the most seasoned pro remaining, Lee Watkinson. Suddenly, Yang and Watkinson’s girlfriend entered a pray-off.

She: “Come on, Father! In Jesus’ name, no weapon formed against You shall prosper.”

He: “Come on, Lord. You know your purpose for me. Come on, Lord, have a purpose for me today.”

She: “Come on, make him a believer. Make me a believer, Father.”

That’s when color commentator Norman Chad deadpanned: “I’m not sure who the Lord is listening to, but Watkinson needs a seven or he’s done.”

Then Yang returned: “Father, in the name of Jesus Christ, let me win this one.”

He does, and the cameras pan to his exultant mother, who is lifting her hands to the heavens and whispering, “hallelujah.”

A couple hands later, when Yang catches a miracle card to take control of a hand, he tells God, “Let people see Your miracles. I believe in You.”

Forget the complications of such prayer and praise (does God really care how his children fare against each other at the poker table?), these players are actually quoting scripture as if the devil is tempting them in the desert. I’m a big fan of involving God in every aspect of your life. And I would hate to underestimate the power of prayer. But this really rubs me wrong.

Yes, I do think this is different than my request that people pray for the quick recovery of Kevin Everett. And, by the way, I played poker at Hollywood Park after the World Series; I could have used some prayers.

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Since launching the blog in 2007, I’ve referred to myself as “a God-fearing Christian with devilishly good Jewish looks.” The description, I’d say, is an accurate one,...

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