So I've found another interesting, yet obvious way of helping pay down my debts: poker. Having so much knowledge of the game, strategy, rules, and player tendencies, I'm surprised I hadn't thought sooner of becoming a semi-professional poker player as a supplement to my income.
Before you start thinking: "What in the world are you doing? You wanna be a priest!" I do have several ground rules that I follow. As a pitboss, I see people throw away money each day I work because they lack the discipline or the self-control when playing cards. These "rules" suit my current situation, but if you are a poker player or just the occasional gambler, these rules might be of some use to you as well:
1. Know what you can spend. Tonight I went in, knowing I could lose $110 and still pay all my current bills as well as a few past bills that still reside on my credit report. I bought in once for 60, then for 50.
2. Set your winning point. The timeline on any poker player is bust if they don't know when to walk away as a winner. My goal was to either double up or call it quits when the $110 was done. After I doubled up, I decided that I would move my winning limit up to $340; the amount of the past-due bill I needed to pay.
3. Be patient. There's always the lure of "donking" chips away on hands like 9-4, J-7, or Q-8. All the poker books in the world cannot teach you to be patient and wait for your hands to come to you. If you spend too much time trying to chase a flush draw, you will end up broke. It took an hour and a half before I turned my last $30 into $412.
4. Walk away when you are done. That doesn't just include your winning limit; if you're tired or you have other things on your mind, do the smart thing and cash out. When I started to backslide from the $400, I left before I dropped under the $340 mark.
5. Give back. I make it a habit to tithe all of my winnings. Sometimes the collection plate gets more money than other weeks, but I make a conscious note to give at least 10% to my church. I don't do this because I'm trying to thank God for making sure my Aces didn't get cracked, I do this because they are poker winnings. It is extra money. Most people would gladly give to charity if they won the lottery, why not give if you only win $300?
6. Remember why you're playing. If you're sitting down to play poker with buddies and you're just there to have fun, you can probably throw out everything I just typed, with the exception of #5. I play because it fun, but more importantly it is something I am good at, and if I can pay off my debt faster by spending time at the No Limit cash tables, then I can use poker as a tool to reach a loftier goal.
Tonight was a good night at the poker tables, and with the extra money, I have money left in my bank account after all my bills are paid. I know the Food Pantry at my church is in need of more food, so I may spend another $60 at Aldi's to help them stock up on soup and canned vegetables. I don't know what St. Francis would think, but I do my best to follow the four major rules regarding gambling per the Catholic Church. Perhaps in the end, the experience, like all others, will help me serve others with gambling problems. Or maybe if they feel they can tell a priest their bad beat story, they can come to him about other things.