When and How to Semi-Bluff

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.

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