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The Semi-Bluff

The Semi-Bluff 0001

If you want to be a winning poker player, you need to have a broad arsenal of moves. One of these moves is the semi-bluff.

A semi-bluff is a combination of two things: the bluff and the draw. Without the draw your semi-bluff is just an ordinary bluff.

One example:

Your hand:{a-Clubs}{10-Diamonds}

The flop:{9-Clubs}{2-Clubs}{k-Clubs}

Your opponent bets $100 and you raise to $300. In fact you don't have a made hand yet, but your opponent doesn't know that. His bet is weak, so you're trying to pick up the pot with a bluff. The difference between this bluff and a normal bluff is that you can still win the hand here because of the Ac in your hand.

Your hand:{5-Clubs}{10-Diamonds}

The flop:{7-Diamonds}{2-Hearts}{k-Spades}

Your opponent bets $100 and again you raise to $300. This time you don't have a draw, so if you get called here it's probably best to let the hand go. A call by an opponent on this flop means that, 9 out of 10 times, you will be up against a King, so the only way you can win this hand is by making your opponent believe that you're holding trips or aces, which is a bit of a long shot.

The semi-bluff is a very powerful weapon. It seems like a simple move, but let's check out the results of a semi-bluff.

You let your opponent fold a made hand.

Let's look at that first example again.

Your hand:{a-Clubs}{10-Diamonds}

The flop:{9-Clubs}{2-Clubs}{k-Clubs}

Your opponent bets $100 with {a-Diamonds}{9-Diamonds}. You raise to $300 with your semi-bluff, which leads to your opponent folding his hand because he his scared of the flush or the {k-Clubs}.

You get a free card on the turn.

Let's stay with the same example for now, but this time, let's imagine your opponent doesn't have {a-Diamonds}{9-Diamonds}, but a made flush with {6-Clubs}{7-Clubs}. With a hand like that he might be worried that his flush is dominated by a higher flush, and since you're holding the {a-Clubs}, he's not too far off.

Your raise on the flop scares him, but he still makes the call. The advantage of the semi-bluff becomes apparent on the turn. Your opponent checks and gives you the chance to see a free river card.

Deception

By betting your draw as if you already have a made hand, you are sending off the wrong signals to your opponent. This could end up being very profitable in this hand.

Your hand:{7-Diamonds}{8-Diamonds}

The flop:{a-Hearts}{5-Spades}{6-Clubs}

Your opponent bets $100 with {a-Diamonds}{9-Diamonds}. You raise again with your open ended straight draw. He thinks for a couple of seconds and decides to call. Your opponent is probably putting you on an Ace.

The turn:{9-Spades}

You hit your straight, but what's even more important: your opponent hits his two pair. Usually your opponent would now be afraid of the straight, but because of your semi-bluff he tends towards putting you on a different hand. He will probably put you on a hand like {a-Clubs}{j-Clubs} and is now starting to feel comfortable with his top two pair.

As you can see the semi-bluff is a weapon with a lot potential. The stronger your draw, the more effective the semi-bluff can be. Simply just check-calling with your draws is by far not as profitable as using the method described above

In position you can semi-bluff with a much wider range of hands, for example with two overcards, gut-shot straight draws and backdoor flush draws. I personally would only semi-bluff these weaker draws in position, as you can follow the actions of your opponent first. The last thing you want is to be raised all-in with a gutshot.

Try experimenting with the semi-bluff. You will soon realize that it is a tool you will want to use more often.

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