Poker Church

I will start off with a curious little bit of trivia about the Poker Church in Cody, Wyoming. Yes there is such a thing as a poker church. I say that because most of my spiritual friends have a deep seated ill-will toward the game of poker. Poker is thought of as gambling and they have been preached at their whole lives by men claiming to know the truth, the will and the way of God. I heard the story in a poker game and was compelled to go to the internet to read up on the Poker Church.

I will quote directly from a blog here, At Home in Wyoming. This blog is about life in Cody, Wyoming, a small western town about 50 miles from the east entrance to Yellowstone Park. Topics to be discussed are Christian living, old houses, seasonal decorating, church, family, gardening, flower arranging and other topics related to building a Christian home. Also featured are photo essays of sights around Cody and Wyoming. The author does not have her name in her biography other than to say she is a 53 year old retired grandmother living in Cody. In her post on the Poker Church she quotes the plaque located outside the building.

According to the plaque outside the building…
“This little church building, the first in Cody, was funded in 1902 by the last hand of a famous poker game. The players, including Buffalo Bill Cody, agreed that the pot was too large for any one man and should be given to the winner’s church. Cody’s friend George Beck won and directed that the winnings be used to build this Episcopal Church. Through a loving circle of friends and parishioners, it was furnished with the first pipe organ in Wyoming as well as stained glass windows and a belfry bell. All who visit and come to pray with us are welcome.”

I believe this goes to show that people who believe in God have played poker for many years and that poker winnings have been used to do Gods’ work for many years. This flies in the face of people like Joan Rivers who had only terrible things to say about poker on The Celebrity Apprentice. I have to excuse her for she knows not of which she speaks.

Certainly poker in the wild-west earned a really bad reputation for being a game of cheaters and other social low life played in the local saloons. Poker in America did see a boom on the Mississippi riverboats and wealthy people travelling on the riverboats were often cheated by a card sharp that travelled the river just for that purpose. Poker was always played by good people and the bad reputations were earned during a time in the west where life was much rougher and even the good people were just a tad surly.

Major poker tournaments are played on Sunday and that keeps many religious people from attending. At the World Series of Poker which runs for six weeks there are early morning services held in one of the small conference rooms. These services are lightly attended and put on by a team of volunteers. I have never pressed the issue of players religious beliefs so I have no idea how many regularly attend church or read a bible.

My poker and church lives crossed paths many years ago and I can honestly say it was more train wreck than ships crossing in the night. I was playing poker almost full time and helping support my mother and my niece with my poker winnings. From a very early age my niece understood that I left for the poker tournament in the evening and would usually not be home until morning. She also figured out that when I won the tournament I usually treated her and Grama to something special. At six years old she would say, “Uncle if you win the tournament could I get a new bike?” I was never sure how much of that was her and how much coaching from my mother.

One Sunday morning my niece went to Sunday School with her other grandmother and they stayed for services and did not come home until late afternoon. When her grandmother brought her home, I got an earful. Apparently there were prayer requests as part of Sunday School and my niece had a special prayer request.

“Jesus please let my Uncle Victor win the poker tournament tonight.”

Not only was I a terrible person for playing poker, I had corrupted the innocent mind of a six year-old.

I am not sure the conservative people of Fresno are ready to accept poker as a hobby like say gardening, but I have already written stories and told the world that I am tired of hiding the fact that I play poker.

I also believe that Jesus died so my sins could be forgiven.

So, yes, I believe in the Poker Church.

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4 Responses to “Poker Church”

  1. Emma Says:

    I loved reading your blog, and I understand completely. I too go to church most Sundays (unless I have a big tournament… in which I pray on the way!) with my two little girls, 5 and 7yrs. I once had my youngest pull out a poker chip I won from my handbag at church and I was frantic to put it away. However since winning a seat to play at WSOP and seeing how much the good the poker community does.. i am proud to be a spiritual poker player. My daughters go to a Catholic School and I have had nothing but praise and support from our principle (who I found out holds a regular cashie, which I have not been invited to yet!) to our tuck shop lady and they are always asking how my poker is going… infact I have been roped in to organizing a james bond poker fund raising nite for our school. So to all those out there who love your poker and love your spirituality… decide to hold your head high and may the sky be your limit and may you be “all in” in everything you do!!

    • victorshaw Says:

      Thank you Emma for taking the time to read my blog and for taking the time to comment.

      I will always write what I feel and the world will either accept or they won’t. i will not pretend to be other than what I am.

  2. victorshaw Says:

    Reblogged this on Tells-n-Lies and commented:

    A story I love

  3. Choctaw Casino Resort Says:

    Thank you for posting this. You have no idea how this will help me.

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