If you have been playing poker for a while, and even if you have not been, then you are familiar with the bluff for sure, it is a very famous action in a game of poker. It is, of course, an act of delusion meant to bring over to your opponents that your hand is stronger than it really is — usually with the intention of getting them to fold right away, fearing that they will not be able to beat the hand you are representing with your bluff.
The Semi-Bluffing is a variation of that move, and it is a very important part of the game for any seasoned poker player.
The easiest way to understand what a semi-bluff is, is to think of it as a bluff with a backup plan, because it really is a bluff, insofar as you would like your opponent at the table to think you are stronger than you really are – and then fold as a result of your bet. But if it doesn’t succeed as a bluff, it still has a way to win – by having some potential to get better on the next card, or in the case of a pre-flop semi-bluff, on the next cards that are about to be dealt on the table.
Semi-Bluffing is when you bet or raise with a hand that is not the best at the moment, but you have many outs to outdraw your opponents if you get called or raised, although you are actually hoping to win the pot right there.
Here is a simple example of a Semi-Bluffing and an explanation of how it would work. Let’s say you have just seen the Turn, and you are in late position holding the As-Kh. You raise before the flop after one player called the blinds. After that you, the caller, the Big Blind and the Small Blind saw the flop of Qd Ts 2s. All three of them checked to you, and you checked as well. The Turn happens to be the 8s. Once again, everyone checked to you. Then you bet the pot, and so that bet appears as a semi-bluff.
Now the explanation of that bet – on the one hand, you will be very pleased if you win the pot right after your bluff. You have the reason to think you might succeed. All your opponents checked to you, that means their hands are weak. For all you know, they might fold to your pot-sized bet, afraid of that, that you made a Flush or even some lesser hand, that was still stronger than their hands. But even if the other players do not fold, and you get called, your hand may improve on the next card. For instance, if you see the River comes with a Jack or any spade, then you will have either the Nut Straight or the Nut Flush. And if your Flush card pairs the board you could give someone a Full House, but that is not very possible since no one bet their hand. The bottom line – you have two ways to win the pot by using Semi-Bluffing – you can force all of your opponents to fold when you bet without a made hand, or if they called the bet, you can improve your card on the River.
There is no way that you can make a semi-bluff on the River, because if course, there are no more cards to come, and it is clear that you can not improve your hand. On the river, a bluff is just that, a bluff. It could succeed or fail, and it has no chance of improvement.
Be careful with the Semi-Bluffing, it works in the long run when it is done carefully and selectively. When you are up against experienced poker players, they are wary at first, and may respect your large raises. But after that they eventually will catch on and will start calling you down, knowing that the law of averages is against someone who raises all of the time and with junk.
In the end it is important to mention that Semi-Bluffing is a necessary addition to your poker tricks. But be careful with that move, use it wisely, and you can rely on it as a very powerful tool in your poker game.