Jews and Poker (Part 2)


In a previous post about Jews and Poker I wondered whether there was a link between Judaism and the disproportionate number of Jews who are quite good professional poker players. I just read that the Torah prohibits gambling if it’s done as a profession or out of greed. This would count against the fact that there are so many good Jewish poker players.

However, gambling has been part of Jewish tradition for centuries. Dreidel Dreidel Dreidel. According to the newsletter “Beyond the Odds”, “early Jews” (I’m not sure what period ‘early’ refers to) would use dice to try figure out God’s will when serious decisions could not be made.  I’d love to know the thinking behind this.  I also wonder if one could use this as evidence to convince the religious anti-poker crowd in Congress that even  traditional games of luck, such as craps, may not be entirely games of luck.  That is, perhaps, pace Einstein, God does play dice.

Anyway, some conservative rabbi has embraced this Jewish poker tradition by having a Hold’em tournament in his synagogue (no it’s not called Temple Bet Hold’em), and he thinks he gets around the Torah and its strictures because the poker tournament is for fun and fellowship, even though it is being used to raise money and rewards winners with non-cash prizes.  Is this kosher? I think so. But what do I know? I’m no expert on Jewish law. So WWSD? What Would Schneerson Do?

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