Many are interested in learning what the Bible teaches about poker and gambling so that they can make an informed choice on what is acceptable.

The Bible does not directly mention poker or gambling, but it does list vital principles that can help us make decisions.

So, what does the Bible say about poker?

Check out this article if you’re looking for where to play poker in Vegas for your next gambling excursion.

Free From the Love of Money

In Hebrews 13:5, Christians are encouraged to be “free from the love of money” – American Standard Version.

Playing poker does not automatically mean we love money. However, playing poker out of a strong desire for riches is not compatible with Bible principles.

In addition,1 Corinthians 6:10 warns that “by reaching out for this love [of money] some….have stabbed themselves all over with many pains” – New World Translation.

The love of money could result in us adopting unethical or unhealthy practices in pursuit of riches, which could ultimately be damaging.

What Does the Bible Say about Poker? Love of Money
What Does the Bible Say about Poker? Love of Money

Not Covetous

So, what does the Bible say about poker and being covetous?

1 Corinthians 6:10 warns that covetousness is not acceptable for Christians.

The word “covetous” has fallen out of modern usage; some Bible translations use the word “greedy.”

The two terms are similar but subtly different:

  • Covetousness involves desiring something that others have.
  • Greed involves an insatiable desire for more than we need or deserve, especially regarding material wealth or possessions.

Of course, in poker terms, playing the game does not automatically mean that we are greedy.

But, playing poker with the desire for excessive wealth conflicts with bible teachings.

Not Brought into Subjection by Anything

In 1 Corinthians 6:12, the apostle Paul says he is “not going to be brought into subjection by anything” – Byington Translation.

Some translations render this: “I will not let myself be controlled by anything”.

Gambling and poker carry the risk of addiction.

Addiction is a controlling force that can completely take over someone’s life.

Of course, most poker players are not addicted to the game.

But the Bible warns us to keep our habits in check, so they don’t become an addiction or controlling force.

If Any Would Not Work, Neither Should He Eat

What does the Bible say about poker and hard work?

What Does the Bible Say about Poker? Hard Work
What Does the Bible Say about Poker? Hard Work

The Bible teaches in 2 Thessalonians 3:10 that we should work hard to provide for ourselves and others.

The scripture reads, “If any would not work, neither should he eat” – King James Bible.

Sometimes, players are accused of avoiding hard work and simply hoping to get lucky with their poker hands.

In some cases, this supposition may even be true. If a lazy person hopes to get lucky through gambling, the Bible teaches that they are not even deserving of his food.

However, there are at least two situations where this is not true -

  1. A person also has a secular job and provides for themself and their family.
  2. A professional poker player does not generally hope for luck but rather to profit through hard work and skill (similar to other professions like day trading).

A professional poker player who grinds in a disciplined way from 9am to 5pm will likely take exception to the suggestion that they are “avoiding real work” and “just hoping to get lucky”.

Love Thy Neighbour as Thyself

What does the Bible say about poker and loving your neighbour as yourself?

Some might say that playing poker does not show love for your neighbour because of the following –

  • We are taking chips from other players or even ‘coveting’ their assets.
  • Some of the players we take chips from might have gambling addictions.

However, others don’t believe this type of reasoning is valid.

Just because we win chips from a player does not mean we necessarily " covet” their assets. 

What Does the Bible Say about Poker? Love Thy Neighbour
What Does the Bible Say about Poker? Love Thy Neighbour

For example, with any regular job, you get a paycheck. This fact does not mean we are 'coveting' our employer's assets. 

The desire to earn money is clearly not necessarily the same as covetousness or greed.

While gambling addiction is a real problem, poker rooms have safeguards to protect problem gamblers. We could also argue that it is irresponsible to sell alcohol simply because a small percentage of drinkers are addicted to alcohol. Views differ on this topic.

Our opponent might feel bad if they lose chips on a wet poker board. However, the same might be true of any competitive game, regardless of whether money is involved.

Ultimately, both players have agreed to play the game, fully knowing the potential risk/reward.

Otherwise, following the same line of reasoning, we might accuse stockbrokers of “not showing love for neighbour” because some of their customers make losing investments.

Unfortunately, the issue is not entirely black and white, and it's down to individuals to decide for themselves. 

Decide for Yourself

Ultimately, what does the Bible say about poker?

Since the Bible does not explicitly create laws on the topic of gambling, it's likely a good idea to avoid enforcing our viewpoint on others.

What Does the Bible Say about Poker? Decide for Yourself
What Does the Bible Say about Poker? Decide for Yourself

We need to make an informed decision on whether playing poker is acceptable.

  • We can likely see why many choose to avoid gambling entirely, although it’s crucial to acknowledge that the Bible does not condemn gambling directly.
  • Instead, the Bible warns against love of money, greed, and addiction, which are concepts that are sometimes associated with gambling and poker.

We might treat professional poker play and recreational gambling as separate topics when formulating a viewpoint. 

It's easy to see why some might consider recreational gambling as a vice – up there with strip poker. The potential for squandering resources and causing ourselves and others financial difficulty exists.

On the other hand, professional poker play is an activity that many might consider comparable to investing rather than gambling. 

Finally, poker can be enjoyed with play money. It's difficult to condemn this type of activity.

The only accurate accusation here is that play money might encourage players to gamble for real money in the future.

With over 10 million registered members worldwide, 888poker is the fastest growing online poker room, with a new player signing up every 12 seconds. 888 has been a forerunner in the online gaming industry and a pioneer of safe and responsible gaming since 1997. We are one of the biggest and most trusted brands in the world, providing one of the largest selections of games, high value tournaments and exciting live events for poker players around the globe.