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Expectation And Hourly Rate The Fundamental Theorem Of Poker The Ante Structure Pot Odds Effective Odds Implied Odds and Reverse Implied Odds The Value of Deception Win the Big Pots Right Away The Free Card The Semi-Bluff Defense Against the Semi-Bluff Raising Check-Raising Slowplaying Loose and Tight Play Position Bluffing Game Theory and Bluffing Inducing and Stopping Bluffs Hands-Up On The End Reading Hands The Psychology of Poker Analysis at the Table Evaluating the Game


Remember what was said toward the end of the last chapter about casino betting when you are afraid you do not have the best hand. The more ways you have of improving to become the best hand, the more reason you have to bet. The semi-bluff is an extension of this concept.

From another point of view, it is an extension of theories of bluffing, which are discussed in Chapter Eighteen and Nineteen. I define the semi-bluff this way: A semi-bluff is a bet with a moment but has a reasonable chance of outdrawing those hands that initially called it. Obviously, then, a semi-bluff cannot unless there are more cards to come. When you bet as a semi-bluff, you are rooting to win right there just as you are when you make a pure bluff.

However, in contrast to a pure bluff, you still retain a chance of outdrawing your opponent if you are called.  Even when you bet with a legitimate hand, you are generally rooting to win instantly, but when you semi-bluff, you especially want your opponents to fold because one of them may be folding the best hand. The semi-bluff is one of the least understood tools of poker, yet it is a very valuable and potent weapon. All professional players use it, and it may be used in any poker game. It may be a bet, a raise, or even a check-raise. Essentially you are representing a bigger hand than you actually have; however, in contrast to a pure bluff, your hand must have more have some chances of improving to the best hand.


Betting on the come is the most commonly used form of the semi-bluff. When you raise with a four-flush in draw poker, you are using a semi-bluff. You are hoping your opponents fold right there, but if they don ’t, you may make your flush and beat them anyway. Raising with


in draw lowball is a semi-bluff; you’d like your opponents to fold but don ’t mind a call that much since you have a good chance of drawing the best low hand. In hold’em, betting after the flop with the third pair and an ace kicker or the third pair and an inside straight draw  would be a semi-bluff: In this case, you want very much to win instantly, but if you are called you still have a chance  of outdrawing your opponent. Let’s say in seven card stud a player representing kings bets on fifth street, and you hold:


You make a semi-bluff raise, representing a straight. You’d like to win right there, but you have a good chance of making the straight if you are called. Furthermore, you’re almost certainly get a free card on the next round when the king checks to you. Also if you don ’t  make the straight, you may possible win with two pair or three 4s.Semi-bluffs can be much more varied and often more complex than simply betting on the come.

They can range from almost pure bluffs, when your hand has little chance of catching up if your bet is called, to a bet with a hand that may possibly be the best hand. In the first case, you have to think you have almost as good chance of getting away with the bluff as you would with a pure bluff, taking into account the pot odds you’re getting. In the second case, when you may in fact have the best hand, it is essential to bet to keep from giving a worse hand a free card.

Betting is particularly important when you’re in first position, in which case you should apply the following rule: If  your hand is worth a call or almost worth a call when someone else bets, it is better to bet yourself, especially when you have little fear of a raise and when there is some chance you will win right there by making your opponent fold.


Advantages of the Semi-Bluff | Semi-Bluff and Pure Bluff

When Not to Semi-Bluff

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