Explore and learn Semi-bluff in Online Poker
A “semi-bluff” occurs when you bet after the flop or turn with the hope that you are not called. However, if you are called, you have outs that could give you the best hand by the river.
The semi-bluff is a move in online poker that resembles the bluff except it’s made while holding a draw. For instance, a bet made by a person holding a flush draw would be considered a semi-bluff. Semi-bluffing is a powerful tool that should occupy a place in every player’s arsenal.
Semi-bluffs may be powerful, but they can also be overused. As is the case with all moves in poker online, the semi-bluff must be used with discretion. It is not a tool to use willy-nilly like a few kind of maniac. Now, having said that, let’s get to the good stuff.
Remember that the primary goal in semi-bluffing is to make your opponent fold. Many times poker players get carried away with their semi-bluffs as they think “oh well, if my opponent doesn’t fold, I still have a chance to hit my draw.” That line of thought is factually correct, but that does not make it a good reason to go around making semi-bluffs at random.
Draws are called “draws” because they are not yet made hands. In most cases, draws miss and you end up having to fold your hand. So if you are going to semi-bluff, make sure you are doing so against an opponent who might actually fold. Otherwise, the only thing you are accomplishing is making it more expensive to chase your draw.
The best opponents to semi-bluff against are the same types of opponents you would attempt normal bluffs against: tight players who are looking for a reason to fold. When you make a semi-bluff, you need to have picked the right opponents and the right situation.
Ideal Hands to Semi-Bluff
Not all hands are ideal for semi-bluff. The idea is to have as much equity in the pot as possible in case you’re called. So that means you’re going to want to have good drawing hands such as:
Flush Draws: It is suggested that you are drawing to the nuts and have 4 cards to the flush. Semi-bluffing to backdoor draws is a bit of a stretch unless you have outs to other draws.
Open-ended Straight Draws: An open-ended straight draw is holding a hand like 56 on a flop of 3-4-x. Not only will a 2 give you a straight, but a 7 as well.
Combo Draws: The best kind of hand to semi-bluff is going to be a combo draw. These hands are drawing to a combination of two or more hands such as straights, flushes and/or over cards. In most cases, you’ll have 12 or more outs to hit your hand which is huge.
Power of the Semi-Bluff
Semi-bluffs have several advantages that make them such powerful moves. First of all, semi-bluffs are nice because they give you different ways to win the hand:
Your opponent may fold
If he opponent doesn’t fold, you still might hit your hand
That alone is a good reason to consider the semi-bluff against the right opponents. There’s always a chance that if your bluff doesn’t work, you will go on to improve your hand. This doesn’t give you free reign to make random semi-bluffs left and right, but it does serve as a nice backup plan.
Secondly, semi-bluffs help maintain your aggressive table image. If you are known to make the occasional semi-bluff, your opponents will have a hard time pegging you on hands. This makes it more likely that your opponents will make mistakes that result in extra money in your pocket.
Semi-bluffs are also great for disguising your hand. This is not a reason to bluff every time you have a draw, but it semi-bluffing does make it more difficult for your opponents to put you on a draw. If your opponent does happen to call your semi-bluff and you go on to improve, they will often never see it coming.
If your semi-bluff does get called, you gain the fortunate advantage that it starts building a larger pot. If your draw ends up completing, you’ll be able to make bigger bets on the turn and river thanks to the bigger pot. Once again, this is not a reason to make semi-bluffs all the time, but it is a nice little benefit just in case you have misread the opponent’s willingness to fold.
When to Semi-Bluff
Semi-bluffs should be attempted when you are up against tight opponents who are quick to fold. These players like to find reasons to fold, and you should be more than willing to give them a reason to fold. By bluffing these players, you give yourself a chance to win the pot right now instead of relying on good luck to complete your draw.
It is also best to semi-bluff when you’re only up against one or two opponents. If you attempt to semi-bluff any more people than that, there’s too great a chance that at least one of them has a strong hand. That can easily result in you just paying more for your draw after they either raise you or call your bluff.