The Semi- Bluff

Remember about betting rules when you are afraid you do not have the best hand. The more methods to improve the hand, the more reason you have to bet. The extension of this concept is semi-bluff. From the other angle, it is an expansion of theories of bluffing which have been discussed in Chapters Eighteen and Chapter Nineteen. Semi-bluff has been defined in following manner: A semi-bluff is a bet with a hand that does not turns out to be the best hand at the moment but has a normal chance of outdrawing those hands that initially called it.

A semi-bluff of course, does not occur unless there are more cards to come. When you bet with a semi-bluff, you are preparing to win; as you are when you make a pure bluff. However, in opposite to a pure bluff, you can retain a chance of outdrawing your rival if you are called. Even if you bet with a legal hand, you are usually preparing to win immediately, but when you semi- bluff, you want your rival to fold because one of them might be folding the best hand.

The semi-bluff is one of the less understood tools of poker, yet it is a very precious and powerful weapon. It can be used in any game and all expert poker players can used it. It may be a bet, a raise, or even a check-raise. Significantly, you are representing a bigger hand than you really have, though, in difference to a pure bluff, your hand should have little chance of improving to the best hand.

Kinds of Semi-Bluff

The most frequently used form of the semi-bluff is betting on the come. You use a semi-bluff when you raise with a four-flush in draw poker. You want your rival to fold but if they do not, you may make you're flush and beat them. Raising with

in draw lowball is a semi-bluff, you want your rival to fold but never mind to call since you have a good chance to draw the best low hand. In texas hold'em poker, to bet after the flop with the third pair and an ace kicker or the third pair and an inside straight draw is also a semi-bluff. In such situation, you wish to win instantly, but when you are called you do have a chance of outdrawing your rival.

Suppose, in seven card stud a player representing kings bets on fifth street and you hold:


You can represent straight by making a semi-bluff raise. You can win but even you have a good chance of making a straight if you are called. However, when the king checks to you, you will definitely get a free card on the later round. If you do not make a straight, you can also probably win with two pair or three 4s.

Semi-bluff is often more complicated and different than just betting on the come. They are in between the pure bluffs, when your hand has some chance of catching up if your bet is called, to bet with a hand that may particularly be the best hand. At first situation, you think that you have a good chance of getting away with the bluff as with a pure bluff by considering the pot odds you get. At second situation, when you have the best hand, it is vital to bet from giving a worse hand a free card. In the first position, betting is precisely essential in that case you should follow the rule: If your hand is worth a call or seems a worth a call when somebody else bets, it is good to bet yourself, mainly when you are afraid of a raise and when there is little chance; you can win by making your rival fold.

Let's take two examples of semi-bluffs from seven card stud. Firstly, make a semi-bluff bet because your hand is worth a call if you check and your rival bet. Suppose, you hold

A queen raises you right off the bet. You think that the raiser is not a very ingenious player, but he can raise with a three-flush or a pair of 7s in the hole. You call.

The card next, you can catch an ace, gives your pair of 8s and an ace, king kicker. Your rival catches a small card. It is very significant to bet when you are high on board because with two over cards and a pair, your hand is usually worth a call if you checks and your rival bets. Further you can think your rival will raise because he now afraid that you have made a pair of aces or even aces up. Truly, your rival may be afraid of what you are representing so much that he might fold the best hand.

An added equity of winning when your rival fold, is a reason to semi-bluff. If you have check a pair of 8s with an ace, king and call your rival's bet, you would have a normal chance of making kings up, aces up, or three 8s to beat his queens or queens up. To bet instead of a check or call, you add to these chances the possibility of winning right away. Such possibility gives a semi-bluff great mathematical expectation than to check and call as it adds other way to win by winding up with the best hand in the showdown.

If there is no chance that your rival will fold a pair of queens, the semi-bluff becomes more disputable as the definition of semi-bluff is a bet where there is chance that your rival will fold a hand he had played. However, you would call your rival's bet, betting yourself has some advantages. Your bet represents more strength than you actually have. Let's say you are chasing two running 6s. When you bet with 8s and 6s, your rival will possibly fold a hand that he wouldn't have if he knew what you actually have. When a semi-bluff has no chance to make your rival fold instantly, it may later force him to fold when your board happens to improve to a better hand than you actually had. Such situation appears only in stud games, both in high and low, where your rival can see an "improvement" in you. It does not happens much in hold 'em where everyone shares common board, nor in draw.

In the second example of semi-bluff from seven card stud, you are more of an underdog if your rival has the hand that he represents. Nonetheless, a semi-bluff is indisputably the correct play: You have

Your rival has

You called with a three-flush and your rival raised on the first round. Now, when you pair fours, you should bet even if you are having only a small pair with no overcard and your chances to make a spade flush are only 9-to-1 against. Your rival will fold without making a pair, which would be your advantage and he might fold a higher pair, assuming you have made three 4s, which will be great. However, if he calls your bet, you do have many ways of beating him.

Benefits of the Semi-Bluff

Initially, according to the Fundamental Theorem of Poker the semi-bluff force your rival to play incorrectly. You probably do not have the best hand when you semi-bluff. The rival's correct play would be to raise if he's able to see your cards. As you represent anything with semi-bluff, rival will always prefer a call. Sometimes, they may make the worst play of all by folding the best hand.

Secondly, the hand, which you are semi-bluffing, is the best hand at the moment, by betting you do not make mistake of giving a worse hands free cards. As seen in last chapter, it is critical to bet the best hand with more cards to come in order to prevent giving people a free card. Not only a worse hand will fold, especially if the rival is getting proper odds to call but also a better hand will fold. When the better hand calls, you have the chance to improve to the best hand. But, instead of betting, you check and a better hand bets, your hand certainly justifies a call. Therefore, nothing will be gained by checking. You yourself do not get a free card. Thus, you would semi-bluff in first position rather than in last, where you have the opportunity of giving yourself a free card.

The third benefit of the semi-bluff is that it adds a huge amount of deceptiveness to your game. For instance, suppose in seven card stud you start with:

On fourth street the rival with

bets. You caught

which gives you Q, J showing. This is a good concept for a semi-bluff raise even if you are pretty sure your rival will call you. Why? Note what will happen if catch some cards on fifth street . If you catch a card like 9 or any card that can give you a straight or a flush, your rival will probably fold, if not a better hand, certainly a hand that was justified in calling against a pair of 7s. Suppose you catch a jack or queen, making a pair on board. Now, your rival will have to fold because of the strength showed by your previous raise. Thus, if he is having two kings, he will make a mistake by folding against two smaller pair. Finally, note what will happen if you catch one card that may make you to call, namely 7, which will give you three-of-a-kind. Because of you're earlier bet, that 7 will seem completely un disruptive, as if it hasn't helped you a bit. Now when you bet, your rival will do what you want him to do. On the whole, your semi-bluff raise on fourth street has made decent cards that help you look reasonably very critical, while it has made cards that may give you a big hand look unimportant.

This last point is the greatest advantage of the semi-bluff in stud games and mainly in hold' em. Sometimes, if you hit the card that makes your hand, very often your rival will misunderstand it because of your bet on the last round (Excluding the case where you directly bet on the come with a flush or a straight draw). Therefore, you can win more than you had expected.

Both the semi-bluff and betting an average hand rather than risk giving a worse hand a free card are case of the general principle that it is usually better to be betting than calling. While betting as a semi-bluff, you have a chance of winning the pot, something you are generally wishing to do and have shown a greater strength than you actually have. Catching any scary looking cards after been called, you still possess to win pots than you wouldn't otherwise have won. Now, when you bet, your rival is likely to fold. However, when you do not show an improvement and are caught in semi-bluff can cost an advertisement for the future.

As discussed in last chapter, the final benefit of the semi-bluff is that you can use it to get a free card. Suppose, a rival in hold' em bets on the flop and you raise with a four- flush. He is likely to check to you on fourth street, if that player calls your raise. If you do not make a flush, you have the option of checking after him for a free card.