Semi Bluff

A semi bluff is a bet made on the flop or turn designed to pick up the pot immediately or improve by the river and win at showdown. It’s usually a bet made with a straight or flush draw or with two overcards to the board.

Let’s look at an example:

The blinds are 50/100 and you raise to 225 with Ts 9s and called by the big blind. The flop falls Js 8s 2c. Your opponent checks, you bet 325 and he raises to 1,100. You decide to move all in for 5,200. Your opponent folds.

Now, at this exact moment you have ten high but let’s look at the hand closer. You have an open ended straight flush draw giving you 15 likely outs to win the pot by the river or approx. 57% chance of winning hand if we assign your opponent a hand like Ace Jack offsuit. This is a perfect moment to semi bluff all in and either pick up the pot now or if you are called, win by showdown.

When to Semi Bluff
As always, position is important when semi bluffing, as is the stack sizes. It is usually a good idea to have deep stacks or sufficient fold equity when considering semi bluffing.
Trying to semi bluff out of position is not a simple as in position but it can be achieved by check raising and defining an opponent’s range. This allows you the opportunity to outright bluff later if you miss your hand. Naturally the benefit of being in position is seeing how your opponent acts before you decide to bet, this is not possible when you are first to act thus semi bluffing becomes tricky.

History and Context
Semi Bluffing is a tendency and behaviour habit. Weak players tend not to think about semi bluffing draws and will often call down or do crazy nonsensical bluffs. It’s important to be aware of what you have shown down in hands and think about the context of the hand and history with your opponent. Ask yourself questions below when considering semi bluffing lines in hands.

Do I play strong hands like this?
Have I semi bluffed this session and shown it down?
Is my opponent observant?
Is my opponent likely to fold here or later in the hand if I continue to bet?


Conclusion
Semi bluffing is another weapon in the professional’s arsenal that can be employed many times a session intuitively. If you have an aptitude for maths and observe your opponent’s closely, you too should be using the semi bluff often.

I hope you enjoyed this article on semi bluffing. Feel free to contact us at info@texasholdemquestions.com with any feedback or questions.

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Texas Holdem Questions

Check Raise

A play that used to be considered bad etiquette and still is in some old casinos. The check raise is a tricky and powerful move when used effectively in poker.

What is a Check Raise?
It is where a player will check (representing weakness) and then re-raise a bet on the same round of betting. Let’s took a look at an example:

Example:
Player A raises to £10 before the flop and Player B calls from the big blind. The flop comes 7s 8s 3d. Player B checks to the initial raiser. Player A bets £15 and Player B re-raises to £50.  
Notice Player B checked, then raised the bet hence “check raise”.

Why Check Raise?
There can many reasons a player may opt to check raise. It can be designed to build the pot up for bigger bets and value later in the hand. It can also be used to represent a strong hand and in fact be bluffing. It can be used to exploit an aggressive player and it can also be used to semi bluff.

Photo by Amanda Jones @amandgraphc

Perceptions of a Check Raise
An experienced player will usually identify strength with a check raise as the opponent is putting in more chips and money than necessary. Let’s face it, if a player wants to bluff to win the pot – they will usually just bet to try and steal it. I mean, why risk more than necessary right?

A weak player may not read much into a check raise and will probably just play the strength of their own hand so if you are trying an elaborate bluff against a beginner who probably has a top pair or better, it might be worth thinking twice before barrelling off.

Risks of a Check Raise
By checking to your opponent you are risking giving free cards that can beat you. It also makes it harder to bluff if you have nothing as your opponent has less streets to fold to resistance. You need to feel pretty confident your opponent will bet if you are considering a check raise.
Secondly, if you are trying a check raise on a bluff that you are investing more than a standard bet. Let’s face it, if your opponent is strong, the fact you check raised isn’t going to make much of a difference.
There is also the risk that you do this move too often, even an intermediate player will pick up on tendencies so be careful not to over use the check raise.

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Texas Holdem Questions