When is a bluff not a bluff? When it’s a semi-bluff. As the name implies, you are not out and out bluffing on a hand you know doesn’t stand a chance. You’ve got a hand that might not be the best, or one that you can improve with the right draw. If other players at the poker table are holding nothing, a semi-bluff will chase them. If players are looking at decent poker cards, they still think twice because you are coming on so strong. And there’s no better feeling than pulling a beautiful draw and watching your semi-bluff turn into a sure thing.
Let’s talk about when to semi-bluff. If you’ve got a bluffing situation, that is the most effective time to semi-bluff in Texas Holdem. Poker players who are savvy enough to recognize a bluff probably won’t realize when you make your draw. The semi-bluff is more effective and more useful against a lot of players, unlike straight bluffing, because the odds are better. You want to be in a late position to use semi-bluffing, and you use it on the flop or the turn. It helps to have a mediocre flop. It also helps if the other players at the poker table aren’t really very good. But that’s always a help when it comes to playing winning poker.
Let’s say you’ve got a Jack of clubs and a Ten of clubs. The flop is the Ace of clubs, Queen of diamonds, Three of clubs. You are set up for the semi-bluff, even if you’re in a middle position instead of late. Because this hand gives you lots of draws. Any club will give you a flush. Any King will give you a straight.
Let’s say you have a pair of Fives. The betting pre-flop chases all the players away from the poker table except you and one other player who is in position before you. The flop is a whole lot of nothing. All different suits, spread ranks that are low. Now is the time to strike. The other player has something. And it’s probably a lot better than a pair of Fives. So you semi-bluff. Chase him and take the pot.