John the Baptist was one of the most passionate people who ever lived. He was loyal to God and honored God and gave glory to God. Now as you read on in this article, you might find it odd that I will be analogizing John The Baptist to poker, or rather to astute poker players, but bear with me and you may learn a few things you did not know.
Passion is one word which exemplifies John the Baptists relationship with God. His passion was so great he went into the desert alone and lived there in solitude, to get closer to God. This was before he started his ministry.
He was bold, a radical. John the Baptist was not afraid to express his views loudly and publicly. To many, including the Pharisees, he was an eccentric with magnetism.
John C. Maxwell explains in The Maxwell Leadership Bible:
His passion for God made him this way and people were drawn to Him to be baptized—"preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins."—Luke 3:3.
What gives a person passion? With John it was God. It is worth noting that to be a winning poker player one has to have enough passion for the game to play well and to keep playing and learning the game.
John needed passion to fulfill his God-given calling" Every pioneer needs passion. Pioneers cannot be satisfied with mere maintenance, for they have nothing yet to maintain. They create from nothing.—The Maxwell Leadership Bible.
John was a pioneer in teaching the multitudes "about repentance for the remission of sins."
What gives you your passion for the game? Could you be a pioneer of the game? Could you be an ambassador to the card rooms you play at?
To be a great No-Limit Hold'em player you have to have the passion for the game and the passion to be a great player—a solid, winning player. Follow these seven lessons from John the Baptist and you might get everything you've dreamed about.
1. The Results of Solitude
John went into the wilderness alone and focused his energy on God in solitude. We all need solitude from time-to-time. To study and to retain information, we need solitude for concentration. As a committed poker player, you will need solitude to study and reflect on your past experiences at the table. Go somewhere quiet. Be alone. Read books on winning poker strategy. Reflect on past performance. Study the notes you have on other players. One hour a day of solitary study could make a huge positive difference in your game.
2. The Power of Diligence
John was a hard worker. He baptized in the Jordan and preached the importance of repentance. His message quickly spread. To be a great poker player you will have to work hard. To be great you will have to be obsessed. You might even be an object of ridicule, but obsession is good if it benefits you, your family and others. And when it benefits God, it's very good for everybody. How does your obsession with poker benefit God? Well, if you are a winning player, you can tithe 10% of your winnings. You can also play your game without being an angle shooter, a cheat, a foul mouth, or vulgar player. You can be polite, sober, courteous, and respectful of your fellow players. You can be helpful and not argumentative. You could donate time and money to worthy causes that God would be proud of. And you can thank God that you have the power to be diligent, if not physically, then spiritually.
3. Consumed With Your Mission
John was consumed with his mission. He knew he was called to pave the way for Jesus. He knew the Messiah by sight before he even saw Him. He knew He must become less important the Jesus more important.
"as it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet, saying:
"The voice of one crying in the wilderness:
Prepare the way of the Lord;
Make His paths straight.
Every valley shall be filled
And every mountain and hill brought low;
The crooked places shall be made straight
And the rough ways smooth;
And all flesh shall see the salvation of God."
A strong poker player must be consumed with his mission. There is no way around it. If your mission is to be a great (winning) No-Limit Hold'em player you will have to be fully engaged. Again, you must be obsessed on learning the game and everything about it. Once you become obsessed with your mission, success is all but imminent.
4. Magnetic Personality for Justice
John attracted people to listen to his words, to become baptized. Because he had a powerful personality he attracted many people and he also detracted others who did not want to repent or found him too unusual or radical. He told people to be just. His passion for God instilled in him a cause for justice.
So the people asked him, saying, "What shall we do then?"
He answered and said to them, "He who has two tunics, let him give to him who has none; and he who has food, let him do likewise."
Then tax collectors also came to be baptized, and said to him, "Teacher, what shall we do?"
And he said to them, "Collect no more than what is appointed for you."
Likewise the soldiers asked him, saying, "And what shall we do?"
So he said to them, "Do not intimidate anyone or accuse falsely, and be content with your wages."--Luke 3:10-14
All very good poker players have magnetic personalities. This does not mean all are boisterous, loud or extroverts. A winning player with quiet confidence can also be a magnetic personality. Other players, even losing players respect, good players. They might not show it or say it, but players recognize a just player, a player with integrity, who is void of arrogance and humble in winning—a player who plays a solid, intelligent game with verve.
5. Black or White, Right or Wrong
John saw thing as being black or white. It is right or wrong. Many strong personality types see life this way as well. In poker there are correct decisions and incorrect decisions—right or wrong. Much of the math and probability in poker tells us this truth. There can be no debate about this because the numbers speak for themselves. Good poker players will see situations in black or white, right or wrong. There is only one way to play a hand that gets the most money added to your stack after the hand is complete. This means, did your opponent do what you wanted him to do?
6. Action Oriented
John was a man of action. He did not wait for Jesus' coming before he started his mission; he prepared the way. All winning poker players became winners by taking action. They put in lots of hours of study, lots of time in live ring games and a lot of time thinking about the game, specific hands played and the people they played with.
Men of action are required in every field. In poker, men of action rise to the top; they take advantage of new opportunities in new areas and in new games. There is no substitute for taking action. Action creates results. Offensive tactics put you in charge of positive outcomes that benefit your games more often. Be the aggressor—be action oriented.
John was enthusiastic for the coming of the Lord. He did things that others thought were strange and many thought he was a prophet. Could he be Isaiah or the Messiah himself people thought? John was enthusiastic about his calling, about preparing the way, and the repentance of sin among the people and among Herod the tetrarch:
"Herod the tetrarch, being rebuked by him concerning Herodias, his brother Philip's wife, and for all the evils which Herod and done, also added this, above all, that he shut John up in prison.—Luke 3:19-20
John ended up in prison and die there, beheaded by Herod.
With some luck, you won't lose your head over any hand, however, if you want to be a winner, rate yourself on a scale of one to ten, ten being highest, about how you truly feel about poker, and No-Limit Hold'em. Are you enthusiastic about the game? Are you prepared to play your best game when you take a seat? Are you excited (not in a compulsive way) when you get to the game? Build your enthusiasm with John the Baptist. Don't give up, or give in when adversity hits. Stand by your convictions and play a smart game with confidence. And by the way, say your prayers. God's listening, always.