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Semi bluffing in Poker

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Semi bluffing in Poker

Semi bluffing in Poker

Semi-bluffing is defined as betting with a hand that, if called, probably isn't the best hand at the moment, but has a chance to improve with more cards to come. It's a cross between betting as a bluff and betting for value, when you know there's not much value at the moment. Consider the following example:

You have The flop is K*843^. You might now raise as a semi-bluff. This play is a good one because three different factors are working for you all at the same time:

  1. You might actually have the best hand at this point, and everyone will fold. Another player could be holding another 8 with a bad kicker. He might fold, not knowing he has you beat.

  2. Your raise could induce the other players to check to you on the next round, thereby giving you a free card and an opportunity to check again. You now get to see both the turn and the river cards for free, if all goes well.

  3. You can improve your hand. If you hit an ace or another 3, you will probably win the hand.

A fairly advanced tactic paid off for you in this instance, and you can see why it's useful. If you're going to try raising as a semi-bluff on the flop, there are four important things you should know:

  1. Your real goal is to win the pot right then. If there's any chance that you will get a caller or two, however reluctant they are, you should generally not raise to semi-bluff. The exception to that rule is if you know your raise on the flop will induce your opponent to check to you on the next round, even when he has a very good hand.

Semi-bluff opportunities arise very frequently during the course of a hold 'em game. It's very important that you understand and truly believe that your real goal in semi-bluffing is to win the pot right then. If you misplay your hand in these situations, you'll have a big leak in your game, because situations like this arise so frequently. I'm therefore going to restate the above rule to make it very clear how to play:

If you're in a semi-bluff situation and you feel that your raise will not win the pot for you right then, you should usually fold rather than raise (or call).

  1. Semi-bluffing does not work well when you are facing a lot of players, regardless of what the flop is. If there are a lot of players to see the flop, someone will usually think he has the right odds to see the next card, whether there was a raise on the flop or not. Semi-bluffing also doesn't work against players who habitually play every hand and call every bet.

  2. Semi-bluffing does not work well when the flop is ofob vious help to anyone who should be holding high cards, like players in early position or players who raised before the flop. In other words, if you can tell by a player's position and the cards on the flop that he'll be calling any bets, you should not bet as a semi-bluff.