I’m in late position when I look down at sbo┬áRockets. Up until this point, I’d seen pocket T’s, J’s and Q’s. The premium pairs were coming my way, and the first three were big winners. I had turned $200 into more than $400, and it was early. I figured the A’s would just keep me rolling.

I raised to $10 out of early position. Looking back, this was mistake #1. It’s that fine line between getting some money in the pot while not scaring everyone away. I got three callers.

The first card I see off the flop is the Ace of spades. Fireworks are going off in my head. that’s until I see the ten of spades and the two of spades to follow. It’s checked to me and I bet $20. I get one caller.

I think his name was Terry. He’s in the 9 seat, wearing a terrible toupee. He’s also got 9 gaudy rings on his 8 fingers (no thumb rings). He’s wearing an 80’s style windbreaker with a “shirt” of a similar material underneath. Both the jacket and “shirt” are zipped halfway down.

The previous hand, Terry had American Airlines himself. He was so excited by his cards that his hand shook like a washing machine as he moved his chips into the pot. I guess you could say he had a tell.

The turn is the 7 of diamonds. In my mind, I’m just begging for the board to pair, but I wasn’t going to assume I was beat. I’ve often felt that’s a problem I have, assuming everyone else has the nuts. He checks and I bet $30 this time, and he called again.

What should that have told me? Was he on a four-card flush draw? Did he already have it, and was slow playing me? Did he have a piece of the flop, but not enough to raise?

The river is another blank. Dammit. I’d like to think my trip A’s are good, but I’m not sure. Terry checks again. I pause. I should check here, right? If I’m beat, that means I won’t lose any more money. If he’s beat, he’ll fold to a big bet anyway, right? Or I could be just enough to get him to call, right??? Right???

Wrong. I throw $50 out this time. He immediately check-raises me for another $100, his hand frantically shaking the whole time. He’s got the flush. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind. If I had just check, I’d have saved myself $50. Of course, I shouldn’t compound my mistake by calling, right? Right???

There was $230 in the pot, and Terry’s $100 made it $330. That means I was calling another $100 to win that $330. It was a stupid call. But I made it anyway. He flipped over K5 of spades.

It was an extra $150 I just threw away on the river. I spent the next 10 minutes beating myself up over my stupidity.

  1. The Stone-Cold Bluff

I’m dealt AJo, and I raise to $10. A couple of people call me. The flop is A-6-3, two clubs. I’m in early position and I bet $20 with two callers. I’m not sure why I bet so little. The pot was about $40 and I had top pair with a good kicker. I’m pretty sure I was ahead at this point.

The turn was another A. Great! Now I know I’m holding a winner. I bet another $40. A young heavy-set guy at the other end of the table smooth calls. He hadn’t played many hands, so I didn’t have any kind of read on him.

The river is the third club. It’s exactly what I didn’t want to see. Suddenly, visions of that spade flush from earlier flashed through my head. And that’s when I made my big mistake.