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First slump of the new year

Although I'm feeling a little under the weather (and have been for a week while fighting off this stupid cold/disease), I decided to play some poker last night. As my wife would say, "What a surprise!". I probably should have stuck with playing Katamari Damacy instead (for those of you who like playing weird f*cked up Japanese games, I highly recommend it).

First off, I decide to check out TigerGaming's $5 NL tables. These are full ring games with blinds of 5 cents and 10 cents - high rollers indeed!

In the first hour of playing, I doubled my buy-in on the strength of two hands - KK and A8s. With the cowboys, I ended up all-in on the flop when I bet big, another guy jammed and I called. He held KQ for a pair of queens (top pair) but his hand was no match for mine. A few hands later, I pick up A8s and hit the nut straight on the turn.

However, things got ugly a little while later when, after sitting at a new table, I picked up T9s on the button. With the number of callers in the pot, I was in for 10 cents. Flop comes 9c 8c 9s. Everyone checks to me, so I bet out $0.50 into the $0.65 pot. Only one caller. At this point, I'm putting him on an eight or a draw. Turn is a blank and I bet $1 when checked to and again I'm called. River is the ace of clubs. Damn...I wimp out and check. I had a feeling I was beat...until my opponent pushes all-in. I quickly re-assess the situation: if the guy had hit his flush, he would have probably put out a smaller bet. He could have nothing and was just trying to scare me off. So I called the bet, going against my instincts and I was punished - I'm shown an 89o for the flopped full-house.

What did I do wrong? If I think a guy is on a flush draw, why would I call all-in when the draw comes in? I guess it's just hard to lay down trips - it's something I'll have to work on I guess.

So, for my efforts, I was down a total of 35 cents for all my NL play.

I then launched up Interpoker for some limit play. Well, there was only one full ring game of 0.50/1.00 running. I played about 35 hands there and another 20 or so hands at a 0.25/0.50 table. I stopped playing after that - I need the extra incentive of earning my re-deposit bonuses in order to play limit. I'm not good enough to make money on my play alone. And at Interpoker, you really need to multi-table 0.50/1.00 and above in order to clear your bonuses at a reasonable rate. Still, I was up about $1.70 after 15 minutes of play.

Then, it was on to PokerStars for an SNG. My avatar is finally up and running - I went with a cool looking Batman logo. I think Batman's cool and the logo is easily recognizable. I like it!

Anyway, after taking an early chip lead, my bad luck (or others' good luck) really kicked in. In five straight all-ins to knock out the smaller stacks, I lost in a dominating position. My AK lost twice to an A6 and an A3. My AQ lost twice to an AT and an AJ. And finally, my Hilton Sisters lost to a suited AJ when the guy hit his nut flush on the turn. All five of these hands were all-in pre-flop.

In addition to that type of bad luck, the two other big stacks were unable to knock out the two smaller stacks as well. In the end, I pissed away all my chips when going up against the guy who'd survived 4 all-ins against me. I had 97o in the BB and got to see the flop for free. Flop comes 7c 8c Tc. I have an open-ended straight flush draw! I check trying to induce a bluff, but none is forthcoming. When the turn is a 6 of hearts, I put out a big bet hoping to induce the all-in. We're fairly even stacked at this point, so if I took this guy out I'd be the huge chip leader. Well, my opponent goes all-in and I call. He turns over J9 (no clubs) and I'm down to T240 when no flush comes on the river.

Should I have folded to the all-in bet? Probably. I could have been drawing very slim to a flopped flush. Then again, this guy was terrible! He constantly overplayed hands and kept "correcting" everyone's play at the table. He was also one of those "zzzzzzzzzzzzzz" players - I hate those guys! Any hand where I was up against him, I'd purposely delay in order to rile him up. Well, I guess he got the last laugh.

So far, 2006 has not been my year for poker. But we're only 5 days in, so no worries. If I play tonight, I may check out some limit play at one of the other sites I frequent. Or I may give the $5 NL another try at TigerGaming. I can't feel too bad about losing one buy-in to a trips vs. full house situation. It happens, I guess.

If any good players are reading this, please let me know how you'd handle any of the situations I listed above. I'm curious to know how good players handle these tough situations.

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