Recently I played in the first-ever World Poker Tour event in Philadelphia, at the Parx casino.
It was a $3,500 event with re-entry, and for the first four levels practically everything fell my way, and I had more than doubled my 30,000 starting chips to a little over 60,000, mostly by making very strong hands when someone had a slightly less strong hand.
It wasn't until the end of the fourth level that something went wrong, and I never recovered from the hand that began my descent.
About an hour before the hand occurred, a new player was seated at the table.
He was a well-dressed, middle-aged Asian man who was friends with the cheerful and boisterous Tuan Lam - which indicated something about the way he was likely to play.
While Tuan is a pretty active player, he also shows some caution when he gets involved in larger pots, a trait his friend lacked.
After watching him for a while, it became apparent that I was dealing with a highly aggressive player.
Near the end of the 200-400 level, I finally found a spot in which to play a big pot with him. I made it 900 under the gun with As Js, and it folded to a player in middle position who called.
Then it folded around to Tuan's friend in the big blind, and he called as well.
The flop came Jd 5h 3d, and after the big blind checked, I bet 1,500. The player between us folded, and after a moment of consideration, the big blind raised to 3,350.
I thought that I almost surely had the best hand, as it was unlikely he had two pair on a board of that texture, and sets are difficult to flop.
There were a ton of draws he could have been raising with, including A-4, 6-4 and numerous diamond flush draws.
I called, intending to call down on almost every run-out that didn't include another diamond.
I suppose there could have been some insane circumstances in which I might have folded even if a diamond didn't come, such as him making a gigantic bet on the turn, then shoving on the river with his hand visibly shaking the whole time and him launching into some speech about wanting to go home.
But beyond all that, he was most certainly getting called.
The turn was a Qh, adding even more draws, and my opponent made a large bet of 7,200.
I pretended to think about my decision, then made the call, praying I got a safe river. Instead, the river peeled off the truly awful 10d, and my opponent quickly bet 10,000.
Half a second after his chips hit the pot, I threw my cards into the middle in a frustrated manner, then settled back into my seat and watched in horror as my opponent turned over 9-6 offsuit for a total bluff.
That's not to say I felt as if I had made the wrong fold, but any time you find out you folded the best hand in a big pot, you feel a little sick to your stomach.
Especially when your opponent has bluffed you on three streets with stone-cold zero equity.
Tony Dunst is a poker professional who hosts the "Raw Deal" segment on World Poker Tour telecasts. Catch him every Sunday night on FSN.