At an ecumenical conference for clergymen of various faiths, three of the delegates were relaxing one evening after the daily seminars. In other words, Father O’Connell, Reverend Wilson, and Rabbi Cohen were playing a little friendly game of poker.

Unfortunately, in their excitement they grew a little noisy and the hotel detective, in a burst of overzealousness, entered the room, confiscated the chips and cards, and held them for arrest under the strict anti-gambling laws of the town.

Now the Night Court Judge they appeared before was pretty embarrassed to see them. “Gentlemen, I’d rather this hadn’t happened, but there seems to be evidence of a misdemeanor, and since you’ve been arrested, I can’t dismiss the case without some investigation. Nevertheless, in view of your profession, I feel I can trust you to tell the truth. I’ll ask for no evidence other than your testimony. If each of you can tell me that you weren’t gambling, I’ll release you. Father O’Connell?”

The worthy priest said at once, “Your Honor, surely it’s important to be certain that we define what we mean by gambling. In a narrow, but entirely valid definition, what we describe as gambling is only gambling if the purpose of the game is to win money, rather than merely to enjoy the card game. In addition we might confine gambling to situations where the loss of money would be harmful. Otherwise, you could look at any loss as just as a variable admission fee to the night’s entertainment —”

“All right,” interrupted the judge. “I’ll take it that you weren’t gambling by your definition of the word. And you, Reverend Wilson?”

The minister straightened his tie and said, “I agree with my colleague, Your Honor. Also, I want to point out that gambling is gambling only if there are stakes involved. The detective saw money on the table, but there’s no proof that this money wouldn’t have been returned to the possession of each person who started with it. It could be that we were using the money to keep score since we didn’t have any chips to use—”

“Fine,” interrupted the judge. “You weren’t gambling,either. And now you, Rabbi Cohen. Were you gambling?”

The pious rabbi’s eyebrows lifted. “With whom, Your Honor?”